Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada (Translated by Michael Hofmann) - review by Julian Preece

Julian Preece

Nineteen Forty-Four

Alone in Berlin


Penguin 568pp £20

The first question that came to mind after reading the first few pages of this fascinating novel was, why don’t I know it already? Hans Fallada wrote it immediately after the war, basing the story on a genuine case of a working-class couple who defied the regime. It was published in German just about as soon as possible in 1949, which was two years after Fallada died. Over the years it went through numerous reprints and was filmed for cinema and television in the West and the East, Fallada being an author that the Nazis, in his lifetime, and the Communists, after he died, felt they could get along with.

I remember the original title (roughly translatable as Everyone Dies for Himself) from a long-running West Berlin stage version in the 1980s. But it must have been written up so as to put off visiting foreign students hungry for scraps of German high culture. And that is surely

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