Book Review ‘Alone in Berlin’ by Hans Fallada published by Penguin


When I first began reading this novel, I wanted to discard it. Life is too full of unpleasantness already, did I want to spend my leisure time reading about a degenerative society? Not really. But then I realized that this is one of those books that you should really read, because it is based on facts and on the history of a time that should always be remembered as a warning that unless we are careful, it could easily happen again.

The characters are believable people with their own idiosyncrasies, problems and relationships. The time is in the time of Hitler and society in Berlin had become one driven by fear and the rise of bullying, torture and cruelty as a way of life. Within this world of suffering, an ordinary couple decides to make a stand in their own simple way by writing postcards of defiance and distributing them secretly within the city. It is inevitable that they will be caught and executed because of this and they know it.

Events unfold in a credible way and in short enlightening chapters we are introduced to the mindset of these people as they battle with a world that is becoming more and more alien. No one is safe from the clutches of the Gestapo.

While I can’t say I ‘enjoyed’ the book, it certainly made an impression on me and contained salutary lessons for us all. Whatever is said in the future, there is no doubt that Hitler and his regime of bully boys existed and their willingness to condone if not participate in the murder of often innocent people culminating in a policy of extermination of the Jews, will haunt us well into the future and remind us that we must guard against anything like this happening again. We should all take care and hope that we too can stand against such tyranny with the same defiant courage the people in this book displayed.

Rosemary Westwell  

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