Alone 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?