Nigel Jones

Behind the Wire

Under Two Dictators: Prisoner of Stalin and Hitler


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Although its tragic and harrowing subject matter makes it a daunting read, Under Two Dictators is one of the most significant memoirs of the twentieth century, and remains a wake-up call to anyone who might still fall for the totalitarian temptation in the twenty-first. It should be required reading for any serious student of history and politics.

The author, Margarete Buber-Neumann, was born in 1901 to a good bourgeois German family in Potsdam, outside Berlin. Though we learn little of her background and early life from the book, the young Grete Thüring – as she was before her marriage – seems to have suffered the typical Prussian curse of a harshly authoritarian father; she received more understanding from her liberal mother.

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