Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Postcards from a sad edge

By J. Thomas Duffy

If the Teabaggers think they have it tough, being called names, dissed, and otherwise, not taken seriously, it's a walk-in-the-park compared to others.

At least they are not being murdered for their opposition, for slandering the President, the government

Roger Cohen, in today's NYT Op-Ed page, has a great read - "The Banality of Good";

What was it like? I would ask myself, the years I lived in Berlin. What was it like in the leafy Grunewald neighborhood to watch your Jewish neighbors — lawyers, businessmen, dentists — trooping head bowed to the nearby train station for transport eastward to extinction?

With what measure of fear, denial, calculation, conscience and contempt did neighbors who had proved their Aryan stock to Hitler’s butchers make their accommodations with this Jewish exodus? How good did the schnapps taste and how effectively did it wash down the shame?

How's them apples for an opener?

Cohen quickly elucidates;

Now I know. Thanks to Hans Fallada’s extraordinary “Every Man Dies Alone,” just published in the United States more than 60 years after it first appeared in Germany, I know. What Irène Némirovsky’s “Suite Française” did for wartime France after six decades in obscurity, Fallada does for wartime Berlin. Like all great art, it transports, in this instance to a world where, “The Third Reich kept springing surprises on its antagonists: It was vile beyond all vileness.”

Fallada, born Rudolf Ditzen, wrote his novel in less than a month right after the war and just before his death in 1947 at the age of 53. The Nazi hell he evokes is not so much recalled as rendered, whole and alive. The prose is sinuous and gritty, like the city he describes. Dialogue often veers toward sadistic folly with a barbaric logic that takes the breath away.

"Vile beyond all vileness ..."

I don't know if you can even begin comprehending, processing such a magnitude of evil.

The book is based on the true story of Otto and Elise Hampel, whose postcard campaign — “Hitler’s war is the worker’s death!” — frustrated the Gestapo until the couple’s capture in October 1942 and subsequent beheading. Fallada, a sometime morphine addict who lived in and out of asylums, got hold of the Hampel police files through a friend in late 1945, wrote a journalistic account that year, and then, in a burst of creativity, the novel.


The book pulses with the street life of a terrorized city, full of sleaze, suspicion, drunkenness, desperation and murder. It proclaims the bestial sadism of which man is capable and the enormous moral stature of decency. It has something of the horror of Conrad, the madness of Dostoyevsky and the chilling menace of Capote’s “In Cold Blood.”


From Elizabeth Bachner;

If Primo Levi told me to crawl underneath the Brooklyn bridge, naked, and read the graffiti there -- if he were here to suggest that -- I’d be swinging over the side of that bridge right now, even though it’s 30 degrees and the middle of rush hour.


So when I heard that Primo Levi had declared Hans Fallada’s long-obscure Every Man Dies Alone to be “the greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis,” I tucked into its 500 pages with a feeling of razor-sharp glee mixed with dread, worried and hopeful that it would make me unable to live in the same way anymore.


Himmler planned on the Holocaust being an “unwritten page of glory.” Every unearthed manuscript or reprinted book like Every Man Dies Alone defeats that plan.

Go check out Cohn's entire article, it's a good one.

Bonus Links

Hans Fallada, From Wikipedia

Video of Anne Frank Surfaces on YouTube

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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  • i venture into shaky ground when i say -- too much of what is going on with the right, teabaggers and even "mainstream" republicans (with their media allies) - is parallel to 1932-33 Germany......

    we are ready for a full fledged "blame the immigrants" [instead of the jews

    By Blogger Distributorcap, at 7:55 PM  

  • Thanks DC, good point ... I already had a Teabagger, on another site where this is crossposted, miss the point, completely ...

    By Blogger 13909 Antiques, at 9:03 PM  

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