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Hans Fallada (1893–1947)

Author of Every Man Dies Alone

134+ Works 7,160 Members 237 Reviews 19 Favorited

About the Author

Hans Fallada is a pseudonym of Rudolf Ditzen, who was born in Greifswald, Germany, in 1893. Many of Fallada's works, including the posthumously published The Drinker, were about his life, which was rife with addictions and instability. Another subject of his works was his homeland Germany. Earlier show more works, including international bestseller Little Man, What Now?, show a Germany that would allow itself to become a Nazi nation under Hitler. Later works deal with the aftermath and guilt of this decision. He died on February 5, 1947, in Berlin. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Hans Fallada

Every Man Dies Alone (2009) 3,652 copies, 159 reviews
Little Man, What Now? (1932) — Author — 1,009 copies, 27 reviews
The Drinker (1950) — Author — 439 copies, 13 reviews
Wolf Among Wolves (1937) 339 copies, 5 reviews
Nightmare in Berlin (1947) 190 copies, 7 reviews
Once a Jailbird (1934) 177 copies
A Small Circus (1931) 171 copies, 2 reviews
Iron Gustav (1940) 123 copies, 2 reviews
Ein Mann will nach oben (1953) 79 copies, 2 reviews
Short Treatise on the Joys of Morphinism (2011) 76 copies, 3 reviews
Damals bei uns daheim (1941) 68 copies
An Old Heart Goes A-Journeying (1936) 51 copies, 1 review
Geschichten aus der Murkelei (1979) 50 copies, 1 review
Heute bei uns zu Haus (1943) 32 copies, 1 review
That Rascal, Fridolin (1959) 25 copies, 3 reviews
Once We Had A Child (1980) — Author — 20 copies
Der Jungherr von Strammin (1943) — Author — 19 copies
Aquest cor que et pertany (1939) — Author — 15 copies, 2 reviews
Seul dans Berlin (1947) 13 copies
Liefde en puin (2018) 13 copies
Der ungeliebte Mann (1986) — Author — 12 copies
Wolf Among Wolves, Vol. 2 (1970) 10 copies, 1 review
Wolf Among Wolves, Vol. 1 (1972) — Author — 10 copies
Erzahlungen (1980) 7 copies
Märchen und Geschichten (1985) 7 copies
Lilly and Her Slave (2022) 7 copies
Frühe Prosa 1: Romane (1993) 5 copies
Ltenweihnachten (2005) — Author — 3 copies
I en ulvetid 3 3 copies
Gesammelte Erzählungen (1967) 3 copies
Obras 2 copies
Malheur-Geschichten (2019) 2 copies
Kleiner Mann, Was Nun? {video} 2 copies, 2 reviews
Wizzel Kien : der Narr von Schalkemaren (1995) — Author — 2 copies
Marerittet 1 copy
Ensam i Berlin del 2 (2019) 1 copy
Ensam i Berlin del 3 (2019) 1 copy
Ensam i Berlin - Del 4 (2019) 1 copy
2005 1 copy
Ensam i Berlin del 1 (2019) 1 copy
Senza amore 1 copy
Ricominciare 1 copy

Associated Works

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Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Fallada, Hans
Legal name
Ditzen, Rudolf Wilhelm Adolf
Other names
FALLADA, Hans
DITZEN, Rudolf Wilhelm Adolf
Birthdate
1893-07-21
Date of death
1947-02-05
Burial location
Fallada-Park, Carwitz, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
Gender
male
Nationality
Germany
Birthplace
Greifswald, Pomerania, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Place of death
Berlin, Germany
Places of residence
Leipzig, Germany
Education
Königin-Carola-Gymnasium, Leipzig, Saxony, Germany
Gymnasium Fridericianum, Rudolstadt, Thuringia, Germany
Occupations
interim mayor (Feldberg ∙ Germany)
journalist
clerk
bookkeeper
novelist
potato grower (show all 7)
estate agent
Relationships
Putnam, George (publisher)
Organizations
Wandervogel
International Order of Good Templars
Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD)
Short biography
Hans Fallada's life story reads like an outsized novel. Before World War II, his novels were international bestsellers and his first big success Little Man, What Now? (1933) was adapted into a Hollywood movie. After the rise of the Nazis to power that year, his work was banned from being sold outside Germany. He refused to join the Nazi party and was arrested by the Gestapo; although released, he was regularly interrogated by the Nazis about his writing. He refused to flee the country. The pressure took its toll and as he resorted to drugs and alcohol for relief; he was eventually imprisoned in an asylum for the criminally insane. He survived and was freed at the end of the war. But he was a shattered man and died in 1947 at age 53. He remained a popular writer in Germany after his death, but outside his own country he faded into obscurity for decades. Then in 2009, American publishers began reissuing his works in translation and his talents were rediscovered.

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Reviews

“They were standing right up to the shop window, well-dressed people, respectable people, people who earned money. But reflected in the window was another figure: a pale outline without a collar, in a shabby coat, with trousers besmirched with tar. And suddenly Pinneberg understood everything. Faced with the policeman, these respectable people, this bright shop window, he understood that he was on the outside now, that he didn’t belong any more…”


Unemployment was at 42% in Weimar when Hans Fallada published this tender and often charming novel of Germany between the wars. In a country being devoured by hyperinflation, with more and more people falling into a nameless, faceless nothingness where they no longer mattered to any one, the newly installed Chancellor cut unemployment support. Nine days later, Little Man, What Now?, a book written in only sixteen weeks, was published, giving the downtrodden a voice. Fifty German newspapers serialized the book, and it became a worldwide sensation. It also brought Fallada disfavor when it was turned into a wonderful film in America, starring the luminous Margaret Sullavan as Lammchen, and the underrated Douglass Montgomery as Pinneberg. The film, you see, was made by Jews in Hollywood…

Fallada’s focus in the novel is a young German couple with a child on the way. The reader only knows the unborn child by the affectionate term used by Sonny and Lammchen — Shrimp. Through Pinneberg and Lammchen’s struggles, and their slide downward, we see peripherally a people desperate to latch onto either the lofty ideals of Communism, or the promises of jobs proffered by the Nazi Party. In a novel nearly apolitical, because it’s focus is the little guy, we see the conditions that give birth to what happened, and get a glimpse — not from hindsight, because this was published in 1932 — at an ugliness that would only grow more fervent, until it threatened to engulf the world.

There is a soft neorealism to Fallada’s narrative, which is tremendously intimate, and terribly charming. Yet interspersed with this realism is the kind of loveliness such as one might find in one of Remarque’s novels:

“The white curtains moved gently against the windows in the wind. A soft light radiated through the room. An enchantment drew them towards the open window, arm in arm, and they leaned out. The countryside was bathed in moonlight. Far to the right there was a tiny flickering dot of light; the last gas-lamp on Feldstrasse. But before them lay the countryside, beautifully divided up into patches of friendly brightness, and deep soft shade where the trees stood. It was so quiet that even up here they could hear the Strela rippling over the stones. And the night wind blew very gently on their foreheads.”

In essence, the entire novel is made up of realistic vignettes, the love story of a couple who marry upon discovering that Emma (Lammchen) is with child. Johannes Pinneberg (Sonny) very much loves his Lammchen, and has to work in a different town just to survive. Their struggles are not unlike any newly married couple’s problems, but poverty and the growing unrest and desperation in Germany between the wars begins closing in on them, inch by inch. Fallada shows in great detail how such times bring out the best in some people, but the worst in others. He also shows how employers, knowing how valuable having a job was, took advantage. All this is done with great charm, humor, and slice-of-life moments which are universal. Pinneberg must even play up to a girl and keep his marriage to Lammchen secret in order to keep one job. No job is safe, however, and no matter how hard Pinneberg tries, the couple slowly move toward the gutter. Pinngeberg’s pessimism, and his desperation to take care of his Lammchen, is perhaps best represented by this apolitical passage:

“There was a wild, wide, noisy and hostile world out there, which knew nothing of them and cared less.”

In many ways, Lammchen is the stronger of the two, and she knows it. Pinneberg knows that despite his job, they are one step from hopelessness, and joining his comrades. The slide is so gradual, their day-to-day struggle so consuming, it is the reader who sees it best, through Fallada’s remarkably intimate and charming vignettes. Even as they are relegated to a tiny loft above a cinema, and then Lammchen must spend hours darning socks for just a small amount to feed the Shrimp and themselves, because Pinneberg can no longer find work, there is charm, and some hope. But Pinneberg knows that it is only his friend Heilbut’s kindness that is keeping them from the gutter. Lammchen’s Sonny boy, is losing himself, and his dignity.

Lammchen senses this, but knows that one day things will be better, if they can hang on. Her greatest fear is that her Sonny boy will do something before they are back on their feet which will stain him, and haunt him long after the tide has turned. She reveals this to the lovable scoundrel Jachman near the end of the book, while they are waiting for Pinneberg to arrive. But Sonny is very late, and her fear for him is growing. It brings about an open-ended conclusion that is terribly moving. It is also terribly lovely, one of the most beautifully written scenes you’ll ever come across in literature.

Fallada, whose own life was fraught with adversity, both outward and inward, based Emma (Lammchen) on his wife Anna Issel, and it is easy to see that Pinneberg is much like Fallada himself. This novel had tremendous success, easing Fallada’s own financial problems for a time. Though it perhaps takes too long to get to its moving conclusion, few will be sorry they read it. One of the most remarkable things about the book is that it was penned during the events, as these things were happening to Fallada and others. Fallada lived this, and the intimacy of Sonny and Lammchen’s story affords readers a bird’s eye view of what was really happening. In doing so, it gives us a better understanding of history.

For those interested, there is a good article about Fallada here: http://hansfallada.com

Someone was forced to take down the youtube link I had previously posted for the charming Hollywood film (there was one made in Germany also) based on the book. It stars Margaret Sullavan, who is luminous, and Douglass Montgomery, who is equally wonderful. It ends differently from the novel, however. For modern readers, it is a strange circumstance where I would almost recommend viewing the lovely 1934 film first — if possible — because it will help you get into the older style of Fallada’s intimate narrative of Little Man, What Now?
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Matt_Ransom | 26 other reviews | Oct 6, 2023 |
My second Fallada and it's brilliant in every way. The writing/translation is crisp, the characterisations realistic, and the storyline itself astoundingly simple and compelling.

The way the lives intertwine in such a simple way and unravels so naturally can be fully attributed to how well Fallada motivated each character. He wound them up so effectively at the beginning, imbued them with their personalities and flaws, before releasing them on their often-crisscrossing paths across the city over the years.

The aptly-placed afterword only served to elevate my admiration for this book and the author's abilities. The afterword could potentially serve as a novella itself, the way it made me gasp out loud and also reevaluate the entire story I had just read.
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kitzyl | 158 other reviews | Sep 17, 2023 |
We all know about the autocracies committed by Hitler and the Nazi Party. But have you ever wondered why the German people not only accepted, but openly embraced the madness of Hitler and his henchmen. This novel explains goes a long way in explaining this disturbing phenomena. The novel is based on the true story of a humble German couple, who at great risk to themselves, distributed hundreds of pamphlets denouncing Hitler and The Nazi Party. The Gestapo was under the belief that the distribution of these pamphlets was the undertaking of a very large and well organized resistance force. Sadly, this was not the case. Just one nobel man, and one very brave woman were behind it all. Because, the sad fact is that driven by fear and paranoia, not only Hitler and The Nazi Party, but of their fellow Germans as well; the vast majority of German citizens succumbed to their basic human survival instincts and did whatever they had to survive. No matter what horrible things they had to do, or agree to, they did so in order to survive.… (more)
 
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kevinkevbo | 158 other reviews | Jul 14, 2023 |
Extraordinary story, based on real life, of a couple who circulate hand-written anti-Hitler postcards in Berlin. Eventually they are caught. Have they influenced anybody, since most were handed over immediately to the police? Or is it sufficient that they did what was right even though it would have little effect?
 
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jgoodwll | 158 other reviews | Jun 19, 2023 |

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Jenny Williams Foreword, Introduction, Editor
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Elizabeth Shaw Illustrator
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Geoff Wilkes Afterword
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Statistics

Works
134
Also by
6
Members
7,160
Popularity
#3,425
Rating
4.1
Reviews
237
ISBNs
537
Languages
23
Favorited
19

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