It is Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the nervous Frau Rosenthal, the bullying Hitler loyalists, the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming working-class couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels ...
It is Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the nervous Frau Rosenthal, the bullying Hitler loyalists, the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming working-class couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the devastating news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of his quiet existence, the usually taciturn factory foreman Otto is provoked into an action that will endanger both his and Anna's life.With her help, he begins to drop hundreds of anonymous postcards attacking Hitler in stairwells and offices all over the city. If they are caught, they will be executed for treason. As their silent campaign escalates, the cards come to the attention of the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between them. When petty criminals Kluge and Borkhausen also become involved, blackmail, deception, betrayal and murder ensue, gradually tightening the noose around the Quangels' necks!
Fine in Fine jacket. Book. Signed First UK Edition Thus, First Printing. This true first edition, first printing of the Penguin Classic edition (first impression) with a full numberline to the copyright page to indicate a true first print in a fine Dust Jacket, a touch of rubbing to one lower corner. Signed by the translator Michael Hofmann to the title page. Laid in loosely is a flyer to the event which included the event where the book was signed.
First and foremost this is an absolutely captivating novel. As exciting in its choreography of brilliantly sustained dramatic tension as the best thriller. What it lacks in artistry is made up for by its streamlined vitality and the pulsing urgency of its narrative. There's something Dickensian about this energy, just as there's something Dickensian about its characters, all of whom are exaggerated, even caricatured but who nevertheless are always large and vivid with humanity. The Nazis too are powerfully caricatured. At one point a Nazi character says, "I don't care about emotions. I'd rather have a proper ham sandwich than all the emotion in the world." This statement is very much in keeping with Nazi priorities within the parameters of the novel where not only the banality of evil is brilliantly dramatised but also the banality of good.
Alone in Berlin is based on a true story. Otto and Anna Quangel in the novel are based on Otto and Elise Hampel who, to begin with, are not by any means hostile to the National Socialists. This changes when Elise's brother is killed early in the war. The Hampels now begin leaving hundreds of postcards all over Berlin calling for civil disobedience. In the novel it is the death of Otto and Anna's son that sparks the change of stance towards the Nazis. Otto, a foreman in a furniture factory that soon will be turned over to making coffins, is provoked into resistance. He spends his Sundays writing anonymous postcards against the regime and dropping them in the stairwells of city buildings. "Mother Don't give to the Winter Relief Fund! - Work as slowly as you can! - Put sand in the machines! - Every stroke of work not done will shorten the war!"
The overriding and unanswerable question about the Nazis remains how did it happen? How did an entire nation allow themselves to be swept up in a tsunami of racial hatred and vengeance? We're usually told there was nothing one individual could do to oppose this orchestrated regime of terror. The brilliant achievement of this novel is to show how two simple working class people did oppose the Nazis, but, from every practical point of view, in an utterly futile manner. The postcards they wrote - lacking any intellectual sophistication and often containing grammatical errors and misspellings - were almost all immediately handed in to the Gestapo. They terrified anyone who had the bad luck to stumble across one of them. They did no political or military damage whatsoever. This husband and wife were risking their lives for, what in practical terms, was an utterly futile commitment to a series of all but useless gestures. Anna herself questions the "smallness" of the gesture but Otto points out that, if caught, they will pay with their lives and no one can sacrifice more than her own life. Fallada's great triumph is to show us that their actions, in the sphere of ethics, were far from futile. They acted in accordance with conscience, to preserve their moral integrity even though they knew that to preserve their self-respect would mean losing their lives. Otto's moment of triumph comes at his (sham) trial when he stands up to the infamous real life Nazi judge most famously portrayed in the film Sophie Scholl. Although Otto doesn't believe in God what he does is as much a religious as a political act. He is acting as though his every gesture is being monitored by a moral overseer
Oct 6, 2011
Book as described
I have not read the book yet, but did glance through it. I believe I will enjoy it. Book in excellent condition.
Apr 8, 2011
This book should be read by everyone! I know that sounds odd but this book really has it all...suspense, thrills,shocks,romance,gripping 'can't put it down moments' and moments when you just cannot bear to turn the page because you fear for the hero/heroine!! A must-read for those of us who appreciate fine writing.
Alibris, the Alibris logo, and Alibris.com are registered trademarks of Alibris, Inc.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited, Baker & Taylor, Inc., or by their respective licensors, or by the publishers, or by their respective licensors. For personal use only. All rights reserved. All rights in images of books or other publications are reserved by the original copyright holders.