Alone In Berlin by Hans Fallada

Alone in BerlinAlone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

1940 Berlin. Amongst the fear and conditions that the people of Berlin are living in, Otto and Anna Quangel get news that there son had been killed in the war. Spies are everywhere, few people can be trusted. Otto didn’t want to join the “party”, it was expensive and it made you different. Yet defeatist talk and being awkward could get you put in a concentration camp.

This book is about people on the inside, some thought it was disastrous for the German people to follow The Fuhrer, but it was very dangerous to voice your opinion. There was heroic resistance to the Nazi regime at all levels of German society and Hans Fallada has drawn on the true story of Elise and Otto Hampel. He shows the tensions between the people’s struggle to survive and the world around them.

Otto and Elise, represented in the book as Otto and Anna, were a couple who started a three year campaign against Nazi Germany. In that time they wrote and dropped hundreds of postcards calling for civil disobedience and workplace sabotage.

This book was written in just twenty four days by an author with a shocking history who himself barely survived time in a Nazi insane asylum. It is an emotional book and one to leave the reader thinking about the past and where we are today. This is one of Penguin’s Modern Classics.

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I thought I’d throw you a question about individual people….

Fear drives people to extremes, many of the characters in this book acted on fear, yet others were very brave. From your own knowledge and what you’ve read and seen about the war, does it surprise you that a resistance  was working in the heart of Germany?

8 thoughts on “Alone In Berlin by Hans Fallada

  1. Not at all. I think there were many people who didn’t like what was happening and wanted to do something about it. Good review BTW. Sounds like an interesting read. 🙂


  2. You catch an idea of this resistance in the Book Thief, and this book confirms it. I had never come across any information on a resistance inside Germany before, and the bravery of these people is astounding. While there may have been many Germans who knew what was going on and didn’t like it, fear and prejudice kept them from doing anything about it. It leaves you wondering whether if you were in such a situation, what would you do?


    • Absolutely! Do you put yourself first? Or your family and friends? Is it just a survival instinct? Or would you live by your ideals? Of course it would depend on what choices individuals had. I found it both sad and a very interesting book.


  3. Thanks Rosie – many brave people resist evil and lay their lives on the line. In all the wars this has been so – Schindler and many others come to mind. Closer to home and here in South Africa during the liberation struggle …
    Yes, definitely an interesting question about whether one’s self was in the same situation, what would one do. Can we put ourselves in the shoes of the other is a a profound question.
    Thank you.


  4. Good review, thx. This book is on my to-read pile, bought in Berlin after a visit to Sachsenhausen camp. It is so difficult to know what we would do when put into such a terrible world, I think fiction is so important in exploring this area of history. 🙂 SD


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