Berlin, 1940. The city is paralysed by fear. But one man refuses to be scared.
Otto Quangel, an ordinary German living in a shabby apartment block, tries to stay out of trouble under the Nazi rule. But when he discovers his only son has been killed fighting on the front he’s shocked into an extraordinary act of resistance and starts to drop anonymous postcards attacking Hitler across the city. If caught, he will be executed.
The story tells of Otto and Elise’s care and calculation as the cards are methodically dropped throughout Berlin. It also reminds you of the anguish they feel for their son and the fear of being discovered by the Gestapo. The people around them that are also affected, tell their parts of the story and their own deprivation in Hitler’s Berlin.
Soon this silent campaign comes to the attention of ambitious Gestapo (the Nazi police force) Inspector Escherich and a murderous game of cat-and-mouse ensues. Whoever loses, pays with their life.
Alone In Berlin is a Modern Penguin Classic. The story itself is based on the true story of Otto and his wife, Elise Hampel who left postcards around Berlin that condemned Hitler.
It is an unrivalled and vivid portrait of life in wartime Berlin. Told through a multiple narrative it shows the hardship the Nazi rule brought to Berlin and how the common people counteracted the gloom. The book is said by many, and I agree, to be one of the most extraordinary and compelling novels written about World War II.
Hans Fallada, whose real name is Rudolf Wilhelm Friedrich Ditzen, was a German writer in the first half of the 20th Century. He is known for novels such as Little Man, What Now? and Every Man Dies Alone.
I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 14. It is a book that is driven by suspense and will grip you until the very end. Happy Reading!
“What do you think will happen to our cards?” asks Anna.
“People will feel alarmed when they see them lying there and only read the first few words. Everyone’s frightened nowadays.”
“That’s true,” she says, “Everybody is…”
By Florence G