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German Autumn by Stig Dagerman
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German Autumn (1947)

by Stig Dagerman

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133390,390 (4.07)1
  1. 00
    On the Natural History of Destruction by W. G. Sebald (Mouseear)
    Mouseear: Two rare books on the topic of allied air-bombings of German cities and German post-war suffering. Dagerman is actually one of few foreign witnesses to the conditions immediately after the war mentioned in Sebald's book.
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Dutch (2)  English (1)  All (3)
Dagerman is a Swedish writer and journalist who accepts a commission to write about the condition of post-war Germany. He travels through bombed out cities, from Hamburg to Munich, and small towns in the country. His description of the neighborhoods, communities and lives laid waste is all the more powerful because there is no accompanying noise of battle, no drama to make the suffering make sense. This is a period when the German recovery is nothing more than the picture of a loaf of bread on a political party poster. Survival is the only force and it distorts everything except Dagerman´s cool narrative. Dagerman´s Swedish origin seems to give him credibility as he talks with Germans about their attitudes and experiences with the English and US occupying forces, their views on politics, the past and very obscure future. Yet the abiding memories of this slender book are not ideas or declamations, but word pictures such as the woman who has collected four bags of potatoes from the fields in the country before she realizes she can only carry one back to the city, and of the internal refugees driven from one part of Germany to another, living in leaking railway carriages in a bombed out Essen shunting yard. They are waiting for... but neither they nor Dagerman can say. Dagerman´s touch is so very light but penetrating. He labors no points, but assembles out of the smallest observations a portrait of a nation utterly crushed. Dagerman seems to be little known outside Sweden, although there are works in translation. I strongly recommend that the reader goes back, after reaching the end, to the forward and translator´s notes. One is left to wonder at the untold story of the story outside the story - that is the life and early tragic death of the author. The book is very highly recommended; a reminder that for both the defeated and the victorious nations of Europe the war did not stop so neatly in April 1945 as we might imagine. ( )
1 vote nandadevi | Mar 26, 2012 |
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Stig Dagermanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Woudstra, KarstTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Undoubtedly Stig Dagerman's most unusual assignment as a journalist was when a Swedish newspaper asked him to go to Germany in the autumn of 1946. German Autumn gathers together these articles, and remains one of the most unusual documents of life in Germany immediately after the fall of the Third Reich." (book jacket)
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