Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Every Man Dies Alone

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Every Man Dies Alone

By Hans Fallada

Every Man Dies Alone
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2009,
    543 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2010,
    544 pages.

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Elise and Otto Hampel
Elise Every Man Dies Alone is inspired by Elise and Otto Hampel, a blue collar couple. Elise and Otto eluded the police and the Gestapo from September 1940-42, "leaving hundreds of postcards calling for civil disobedience and workplace sabotage all over Berlin."

EliseOne of the frequent subjects of the Hampels' postcards was the Winter Relief Fund, a seasonal charity backed by the Nazis, but widely suspected of being open to graft. A considerable public show was made of the fund, and not contributing to it was seen as a form of disloyalty. The Hampels used the fund as a touchstone of their opposition in part because "pressure to contribute was considerable, and armbands and pins were distributed for public display to identify donors -- and thus, non-donors. Much of the money was siphoned off by the party, and scholars have noted that it kept the populace short of extra cash and acclimated to the idea of privation." (Fallada)

Other characters in the novel, ...

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