on 13 November 2011
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.
on 6 September 2015
These were recommended by a reader of history in the family. I have read both volumes and believe my understanding of the period is greatly expanded. These volumes were gifts to another reader of history in the family who requested them. I think that makes 3 recommendations.
Klemperer describes events and his own experiences but especially the language used by the regime to inculcate (sic) the Nazi world view. The repeated lie becomes, if not true, at least indisputable.
on 2 March 2010
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.