Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Recent Read: Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

On the plane back from Germany I started a book I ordered used online last year called Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada (though in some places I've seen the title listed as Every Man Dies Alone). It turns out it was the perfect time to read this novel, one of only two I've rated with five stars on Goodreads this year.

The book takes place in Berlin in 1940 (since I'd just been it was fun to recognize some of the street and place names in the book) and is focused on the residents of an apartment building: an average working couple, a family of Nazi supporters, a pacifist retired judge, a Jewish woman whose husband has already been taken away, and the mail carrier who delivers to their building. A lot of the story focuses on the couple, Otto and Anna Quangel, who is their grief over losing their son in the war, takes an extraordinary stand to oppose the war and Hitler's rule over Germany and most of the rest of Europe. It is a beautiful and terrible story based on a real working-class couple who had remained uninvolved in politics and activism until the death of their son became their call to action.

There is a German Resistance Memorial Center in Berlin that I now wish I'd gotten to visit. If I ever get to visit again, I'll be sure to see it.

Read this book. Alone in Berlin is a powerful, powerful statement of how regular people can do bold things, even it means putting their lives at risk but makes a difference, if only for a few others.  

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