Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada
Alone in Berlin was written in 1947 and is loosely based on the true story of a married couple who placed postcards containing anti-Nazi messages all around the city of Berlin during the war. Unfortunately the main reason we now know the identity of this couple is because they were caught by the Nazis and hanged.
This book was not translated into English until 2009 which is surprising given the anti-Nazi message and the fact that books on this topic tend to do very well.
The novel contains a wide range of characters from the low-life criminal Emil, the Pro-Nazi Persicke family, the brave Trudel Baumann to the fiancée of the Quangel's dead son. The author here gives a wide-range of responses to the regime, from total loyalty through to heroic resistance and to the people that will do anything to look the other way and survive it. The paranoia hanging over Berlin and its residents is well portrayed and as a reader I did feel nervous for the characters when they dared, in their own way, to defy the authorities. I’ve read many books set during this period but this one did offer a different perspective.
However it did go very much into thriller territory towards the end. The police investigation and how they eventually caught the couple was very interesting but the thriller genre isn’t something I particularly enjoy. I wouldn’t let this put you off, it’s only my personal preference but I would have preferred it if the novel stuck to the more physiological and historical aspects.
The notes contained in the back of the book gives information on the real life couple the novel was based on. This section includes photographs, police reports and photos of the postcards that were dropped around Berlin.
Posted by Jess