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Diary of a Man in Despair Hardcover – Jan 1970

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: MacMillan Publishing Company (Jan. 1970)
  • ISBN-10: 0026014009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0026014007
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,723,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came across this from references in Richard Evans' trilogy of the Third Reich and Germany, and in an American account of the White Rose. Despite quoting him at length, Evans is rather disparaging of Reck, implying that he had to some extent mis-sold himself as a Prussian aristocrat while being more of a nouveau riche upstart. Having looked up various sources, it seems that the 'Malleczewen' was added in reference to the area of his upbringing, but there's no doubting that he was a man of culture, connections and deep sensitivity, whatever his background.

This edition of the diary doesn't seem to differ from any other, in that it begins in 1936 and ends in 1944. There is disagreement about how he died in Dachau (for the period of the journal, he lives in Bavaria) - whether of illness or an SS bullet - but again, the relevant factor seems to be that his life was ended, one way or another, by the Nazis whom he so loathed. Despite an introduction and a foreword by the translator, it isn't clear whether what is published constitutes the whole journal or merely sections chosen by editors. Chapters are headed by month and year, and were sporadically written; nor are they too forthcoming about Reck's daily life or personal circumstances, while encompassing anecdotes past and contemporary, the weather and so on. His tone is scathing: he admits he lives and breathes hatred for the regime that has degraded his beloved Germany, and he has only a dry and bitter humour to help him through it.

The point that Evans makes about his being far from an obvious hero is a good one, in that Reck was a staunch conservative, a supporter of the old monarchist order that inadvertently allowed Hitler the power he craved.
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By A Customer on 17 July 2001
Format: Paperback
Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen's "Diary of a Man in Despair" evidences many traits that would probably justify his description as an unreconstructed reactionary of the old school. He was an admirer (and friend) of Oswald Spengler. He was an aristocrat and a monarchist (although of a Wittelsbach rather than Hohenzollern bent). He thought highly of the inner decency of the Bavarian peasant (although he himself came from Junker origins). What makes this book fascinating is that such a man was also a fervent anti-nazi, whose chief regret was not having shot Hitler when, early in the Third Reich, he had had a chance to do so in a restaurant in Munich. This is surprising to a modern sensibility, which associates mental attitudes such as Reck-Malleczewen's with an innate proto-nazism. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Michael Burleigh has shown in his emblematic "The Third Reich", Hitlerism was a truly revolutionary creed. Its main contenders were on the right, not on the left. We must remember that the conspiracy to kill the Fuehrer in August 1944 was led by aristocrats in the army. A refined, sensitive, individualistic, cultured man like Reck-Malleczewen, having seen the regime's true face from very early on (he owned a palace in Schleissheim, just a few kilometers off Dachau), could never reconcile himself with its vulgarity, violence and inner nihilism. While many "progressives" easily transacted with the nazis, sympathising with many of their worthier goals (such as social security and work for the masses, or a strong Germany for a strong German people) it was left to reactionaries such as Reck-Malleczewen to realize the cosmic evil that had been unleashed, and to wallow in the pits of existential despair at their powerlessness to stop it.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Less despairing than the title suggests.... 20 Jun. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
There have been many personal memoirs describing aspects of the second World War, however this book, although not especially well-written, is unusual in that the author did not have the benefit of hindsight. This is a personal and highly idiosyncratic description of the events leading up to the war and of conditions and attitudes in Germany during the war. Despite the title, the author managed to avoid a tone of despair, and instead conveys a passionate loathing of the regime and a fervent belief that the Hitler era would be ended, although at great cost to Germany. Reck-Malleczewen was a nationalist whose great love of his country did not blind him to the sinister use by Hitler of German pride. He remains coherent despite the realisation that he is impotent to act against the regime, and documents in great detail (sometimes, with hindsight, lacking in historical accuracy) some of the more ridiculous and darkly amusing occurrences in Germany. The book is typified by intellectual arrogance, and the assumption that the author's background and education enables him to see beyond the trappings of the Nazi structures, and to attempt to comprehend the madness engulfing his country. Nevertheless, one is left with the impression that Reck-Malleczewen was essentially a very humane and thoughtful person whose attempts to understand the flaws in his own country make for a fascinating, if somewhat macabre, read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly Moving, Witty, Wise and Rueful Account of a World Sunk in Psychosis... 29 Mar. 2013
By Mark Daniel - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is an important, terrible book by a sane, sad, angry man. As he sat in his six hundred year-old Bavarian schloss, gazing out upon a valley threatened by Nazi expropriation, Reck wrote these diaries only to bury them each night in his woods. He is a snob, as must be all sane people confronted by the dull, insensate barbarism of 'mass-man'. He yearns for Cicero's 'otium cum dignitate' but is surrounded only by otiose boorishness, cruelty and soulless ambition. His hatred for Hitler and for the bourgeoisie who unthinkingly sustain the Reich is overwhelming. He confesses that it nigh overwhelms him daily. For all that, his beautifully cadenced, rational prose sings of love - for Germany, for England, for Russia, for the nobilities and kindnesses of gross humankind - which elevates these diaries far above the level of a mere rant against the quotidian monsters lording it on his every side.

Reck tells a good anecdote. He turns a witty, vicious phrase in order to express his despite. I bought this book on Kindle and have regretted it, so often have I wished to underline passages or make marginal notes, because this is a prophetic book. Not only does Reck foresee from the outset how the Nazi nightmare must end, but his diaries are nigh as pertinent today as when they were written. The demise of otium (where is the schole in our schools?), the decline of spirituality (and even its cognate sensuality), the joyless materialism, the willingness to follow the mass into a mechanised hell sooner than assert individuality or values, all are familiar today as we allow our politicians once more to surrender democracy and fair-play to yet another bureaucratic, German-dominated empire.

Reck is a Catholic. He foresees a renaissance of non-rational spirituality after the demise of Nazism. Thus far, he has been proved wrong in this alone. Whether his prophecy will be fulfilled this time round remains to be seen.
5.0 out of 5 stars The most astonishing cri de coeur of outrage by a ... 12 July 2015
By Edna Selan Epstein - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The most astonishing cri de coeur of outrage by a well educated, self- described mid 50s, "conservative" and "monarchist" (not Wilhelm II, but the former King of Bavaria) Bavarian aristocrat against everything the Nazis represented. He fully recognized their thuggery, their brutality and despaired over the "canaille" that followed them. It is obvious that he had friends in common from allusions in his "diary," which is not a daily journal at all, but entries months apart. It restores one's faith in humanity to know that there were such among those Germans who remained in German and did not emigrate in 1933, many because their lives were in danger. He had thought of how to restore decency to Germany after the blood bath that he foresaw as clearly as did Churchill, was over. He was not given the opportunity to do so by the Nazis who deported him to Dachau in october 1944 and shot him there in february 1945.

If you have an interest in the subject, you may wish to watch a documentary interview with Marlene Dietrich (who left when the Nazis came to power) by Maximillian Schell, called Marlena...she says it all: "of course I left. For goodness sake they were killing children."
3.0 out of 5 stars Not yet read 24 Aug. 2016
By Janet L - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have yet had time to read, but know something about this sad story.
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