Sep 20 2014
I was a bit afraid of reading this novel, it sounded quite intimidating.
Once I began I had trouble putting it down. I became completely engrossed despite the serious topic and the fact that it was clear that there would not be a happy ending.
The point of view is so different from other books about the second world war. This book was written shortly after the war by a German author who had suffered the Nazi regime first hand.
Before I read the book I thought that “Alone in Berlin” referred to the isolation of those who dared to defy the regime, who refrained from becoming party members. However, by the time I finished the book my understanding of the title had changed. I now feel that the book emphasizes how the Nazi regime isolated everyone, encasing them in their bubble of fear. No one could trust anyone, it was best not to be in contact with others (nor to confide in them). It was an atmosphere straight out of 1984 – you never knew who would denounce you. Every word could be used against you. Even the party members and high-ranking officials were not exempt from these fears. At any minute they could fall from favor and get the same terrible treatment they had been administering.
I was a bit disappointed to discover just now that the original title in German was “Every Man Dies Alone”, which may not support my theory at all. Alone in Berlin made more sense to me.
What a book!
It reminds me a bit of “The Day Lasts More Than A Hundred Years” by Aitamtov, which I read three years ago. Also powerful, also very authentic, but “Alone in Berlin” is a much easier read, style wise.
I recommend them both!