One of the great testimonies of our century. . . . Klemperer's ability to grasp moods and attitudes has a truly Dickensian quality. --Los Angeles Times. What has been called one of the most remarkable documents to come out of the Second World War turns out to be one of the most compulsively readable books of the year. The San Diego Union Tribune. For the next generation of historians, Klemperer's diaries will be required reading.--Gordon Craig, The New York Review of Books. To read his almost day-by-day account is a hypnotic experience; the whole, hard to put down, is a true murder mystery--from the perspective of the victim. --Peter Gay, The New York Times Book Review
The epic, astonishing Diaries of Victor Klemperer, written in Dresden almost every day during the 12 years of Nazism, are a monument to survival and the triumph of the human spirit, and Klemperer risked his life in writing them.
They are completely enthralling, and as you read, you quickly find yourself right 'there', in Germany, in Dresden, in that house, experiencing the daily-increasing shocks and trials that a tyrannical regime is imposing on its citizens, particularly the Jews, during those years. This is the real thing.
In addition these Diaries are a wonderful portrait of human beings under extreme pressure: the reader gets to know Victor, his foibles and bravery, his stressed wife Eva, his exasperating neighbours in the same house, his friends and acquaintances who are, one and all, falling victim to the demands of the regime and of war.
Here are gripping descriptions of nerve-wracking house-searches by the Gestapo; the daily trecks for food; the confiscation of their property (and even their cat!) by anti-semitic law; the dreadful experience of imprisonment and the terror of deportation; and a stunning picture of the fire-storm destruction of Dresden.
Don't miss these essential, incomparable Diaries, which are amongst the most unforgettable human documents of the 20th Century.
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This is the first of three volumes of diaries of life in Germany from 1933 to the 1950s covering the Hitlerite tyranny. Victor Klemperer was a Jewish-Christian convert who married an Aryan wife and had served as a Front-soldier. The latter two facts helped him survive the war in Dresden, though it was a close call even then. The day to day detail he records has an intense drama, though it must have been tedious and very stressful to live through. In 1933, he loses his job as a professor, then he is forbidden to use the library and public transport and eventually he and his wife lose their house. You feel like you are living through the times day to day. To take one story, if he cannot find evidence of his military service his job, then his life, are at stake. It is the string of such little insect stings that tell the story, as he says. The author later wrote a book on The Language of the Third Reich, noting its use of boxing metaphors and such like, but it is this account that tells us the most about his era in Germany and the range of responses of ordinary people to the ideologies and events of the day. To anyone interested in this era, I can't recommend this book and its companion volumes highly enough.
While the daily routine of someone else' daily life can start getting monotonous in an ongoing personal diary, the repetitiveness of these diaries is worth working through.
We are mostly used to looking at Word War 2 and its build-up from a military/political perspective. These diaries show us daily life in Nazi Germany, told by a Jew who lived through those years.
The daily gradual erosion of freedoms, and the daily additions of orders which increasingly made life unbearable for those Hitler wanted to eliminate, are an essential read at a time when government seems to be eroding our liberties in the name of protecting liberty. We need to defend freedom of speech passionately, before we are only allowed to say what the government approves of.
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