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BOOK REVIEW: EVERY MAN DIES ALONE
BY HANS FALLADA
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This book is based on fact with the names changed. The main people in the story are the Quangels, Anna and Otto, who live in a small apartment as so many did in wartime Germany. Their lives are not private as are their political affiliation. If anyone didn’t join the “party” or one of the offshoots of Nazi Germany, they were considered traitors and couldn’t be trusted. One never knew who would report anyone else to a party official or one of the German military groups such as the SS. In the same apartment building lived some official party members, as well as a little old lady trying to hide herself since she was Jewish and she would be thrown in prison if she was found, as were far too many in the entire country if they were suspected of anything that the official government ordered.
When the Quangels received word of the death in battle of their son, Ottochen, they decided to try to actively do something to awake the people as to what was going on in their nation and how bad their Hitler and company leadership was hurting everyone. They devised a plan to carefully hand write postcards to leave anonymously in various areas around the city. At first they only printed one card, carefully placed it secretly somewhere it would be found. This gradually increased to more postcards each week but it was so hard to place them where the Quangels would not be seen before or after placement. Otto fought his wife at first not wanting her to get mixed up in dropping the cards but he eventually gave in and let her place a few.
Otto was a foreman in a furniture factory. Being the only worker not belonging to the “party” he was frowned upon and finally was replaced as foreman when he would not join. He continued working but his heart and soul was not in his work of building coffins. No one could look cross-eyed at another in public whether working or just out taking a walk, or going to ones apartment. No one knew when someone would take their expression as one against the party. The lives the Germans endured during the years starting in 1933 when Hitler first came into power became less their own with every passing week. No one was safe unless they repeatedly spouted Hitler’s propaganda or a “Heil Hitler” to practically everyone.
German Inspectors were in charge of local police matters. When the postcards started evolving they were determined to find the person that was placing this “wrong information” for the public to read. After a period of time inspectors were changed as one after another was replaced since they could not find the culprit.
The standard of living in Germany during these times was terrible. No food, clothing, decent housing, privacy, or personal expressions of thoughts were available or allowed. People were arrested and thrown in prison for little or no reason. The prisons were disgusting and contained even worse conditions than the worst housing. No one knew when their time was coming to be exterminated since release was so seldom granted they knew their futures were uncertain. Most of us have read or heard about WWII and the atrocities occurring in Germany and caused by the Germans throughout Europe. We have nothing that we know of in today’s world that we could relate to those times.
I highly recommend that anyone interested about this period in history read this book. It is well written and will give you chills as you read “Every Man Dies Alone.”
REVIEWED BY CY HILTERMAN
DO NOT REPRINT
WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, CY HILTERMAN
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