When we talk about the Holocaust, we often admire the resilience it must have taken to maintain one's dignity in the face of horror. Like many readers, I was first introduced to the literature of the period through The Diary of Anne Frank
, and later, through the work of Jewish writers like Primo Levi. I had never considered the German perspective on the Nazis, so when I first began reading Every Man Dies Alone
, I wasn't sure what to expect. The novel is not, as I'd imagined, a portrayal of atrocities, though there are certainly beatings and Gestapo interrogations. Fallada doesn't dwell on the more visible signs of war like bombings, marches, or political rallies. Instead, the scale is domestic. Petty opportunism, betrayals, and the strain of family life combine to weave a story that is sometimes frustrating in its meandering, but often revealing in its depiction of a...
Beyond the Book
Elise and Otto Hampel
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."
One 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...