First published in Germany in 1947, Every Man Dies Alone is a true masterpiece from a bestselling writer who saw his life crumble following his decision not to flee Germany and his refusal to join the Nazi party. The novel presents a richly detailed portrait of life in Berlin under the Nazis and tells the sweeping saga of one working-class couples decision to take a stand when their only son is killed at the front. With nothing but their grief and each other against the awesome power of the Reich, Otto and Anna Quangel launch a simple, clandestine resistance campaign that soon has an enraged Gestapo on their trail, and a world of terrified neighbors and cynical snitches ready to turn them in. In the end, Every Man Dies Alone is more than an edge-of-your-seat thriller, more than a moving romance, even more than literature of the highest orderits a deeply stirring story of two people standing up for whats right, and for each other.
Every Man Dies Alone
The postwoman Eva Kluge slowly climbs the steps of 55 Jablonski Strasse. She's tired from her round, but she also has one of those letters in her bag that she hates to deliver, and is about to have to deliver, to the Quangels, on the second floor.
Before that, on the floor below, she has a Party circular for the Persickes. Persicke is some political functionary or other Eva Kluge always gets the titles mixed up. At any rate, she has to remember to call out "Heil Hitler!" at the Persickes' and watch her lip. Which she needs to do anyway, there's not many people to whom Eva Kluge can say what she thinks. Not that she's a political animal, she's just an ordinary woman, but as a woman she's of the view that you don't put children in the world to have them shot. Also, that a home without a man is no good, and for the time being she's got nothing: not her two boys, not a man, not a proper home. So, she has to keep her lip buttoned, and deliver horrible field ...
Although it isn't a perfect novel, I would recommend it for Fallada's talent in showing us that sometimes the most frightening part of a war isn't dramatic at all -- it's the psychological game, that tension arising from waiting for something to happen, and wondering if it ever will, that slowly begins to wear the spirit down.
(Reviewed by Karen Rigby).
Full Review (979 words).
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 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 ...
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