Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Alone in Berlin - Hans Fallada

About the Book

Title: Alone in Berlin - UK/Every Man Dies Alone - US (Jeder stirbt für sich allein - Original title)
Author: Hans Fallada
Publication: 1947
Summary: Set in WWII this is a story of an ordinary couple who choose to do something extraordinary. 

What I Think

Based on a true story Hans Fallada writes the story of Otto and Anna Quangel, a quiet and ordinary couple who are living in Germany during WWII. He is a foreman, she is a housewife and when they lose their only son to a Russian bullet they decide to fight back: by distributing anti-Nazi, anti-Hitler messages carefully written on the back of postcards. 

Using an omnipresent narrator we follow the lives not only of Otto and Anna, but also the other residents in their apartment block, various police officers and SS inspectors who are trying to catch the "Hobgoblin" (their code name for the writer of the mysterious postcards) and other people who are in some way related to the narrative. I felt this left me less attached to the main character(s). I also felt that some of the characters were unnecessary and this led to a slightly sluggish start to the novel. 

By no means a light read, in subject matter or in length, it was, however, extremely interesting. Having read a fair few books (based on true stories or fictional) and having lived in Germany, the novel was peppered with countless little details that made it seem very real. 

Recommended to anyone interested in the period and/or Germany. 

About the Author

Hans Fallada (21 July 1893 – 5 February 1947), real name Rudolf Wilhelm Friedrich Ditzen, was a German writer. Fallada's pseudonym derives from a combination of characters found in the Grimm's Fairy Tales: the protagonist of Hans in Luck and a horse named Falada in The Goose Girl. Other novels are Little Man, What Now? (1932)

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