Alone in Berlin

By Hans Fallada,

Book cover of Alone in Berlin

Book description

A gripping portrait of life in wartime Berlin and a vividly theatrical study of how paranoia can warp a society gripped by the fear of the night-time knock on the door.

Based on true events, Hans Fallada's Alone In Berlin follows a quietly courageous couple, Otto and Anna Quangel who,…

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Why read it?

7 authors picked Alone in Berlin as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This novel is based on a true story and written by a German who lived through the Nazi period. This authentic perspective had me enthralled from start to finish.

A factory worker, Otto Quangel, writes on postcards urging Berliners to rise up against the regime. A cat and mouse game ensues where a Gestapo policeman, Inspector Escherich, hunts for the perpetrator of these repeated acts of defiance.

The story is fast paced, riveting, and heart-breaking. It conveys the atmosphere of fear and dread that many Germans experienced under the Nazis, and it stayed with me a long time after I…

Often overlooked by today's readers, this fine novel of 1940 Berlin by an author who never left Nazi Germany offers a realistic and touching portrayal of ordinary working citizens. A married couple whose life is upended by the loss of a soldier son encounters persistent Nazi propaganda discrediting their sacrifice. Inspired by actual historical figures, the protagonists courageously turn to modest acts of resistance, drawing the unrelenting focus of a Gestapo inspector determined to solve the case to further his career. Fallada's masterful storytelling and unforgettable characters…

This is the consummate political thriller. First published in 1947, but not translated into English until 2009, the story (based on a real incident) is set in war-time Berlin. It tells the story of the Quangels, a respectable, working-class couple who, prompted by the death of their only son Otto, distribute hundreds of hand-written post-cards critical of Hitler and the Nazi regime. As the Gestapo close in, it is as if the streets themselves become narrower and more oppressive, and the networks which have surrounded the Quangels, become tighter and more intricately interlinked. The city becomes a metaphor for the…

The story of the resistance to the Nazis in wartime Berlin is made up of small acts of courage. This novel, which is based on a true story, is a devastating depiction of just such an act. I love Alone in Berlin for the quietness of its characters: Otto and Anna are the last people you would expect to stand up to the terrifying might of the SS and the Gestapo and yet the campaign of defiance they embark on is totally believable. They have lost hope and so they have lost fear, and their personal tragedy becomes a liberation.…

From Catherine's list on stories set in Berlin.

This book was originally published (in German) in 1947, shortly before the death of the author. Fallada was a well-known German writer and an anti-Nazi who somehow survived the war in Berlin, despite being imprisoned during it. This is a work of fiction, though one based on the true story of a working-class couple in Berlin who begin a campaign of low-level resistance against the Nazi regime after hearing of the death of their only son while fighting in France.  The book gives a real sense of Berlin at war and of the lives of ordinary people during it.  The…

Alone in Berlin, is inspired by a true story and set in 1940 Berlin. The book was written in 1946 (but not published in English until 2009) and is a brilliant depiction of a lowly, working-class couple’s dangerous attempt at resistance to Hitler’s regime. It is not only a grippingly written thriller which shows unflinchingly the excruciating level of violence and fear under which the population lived, but the book continuously poses questions of morality. The couple’s resistance to the seemingly all-powerful Nazi war machine at times seems infantile and futile, but they keep going, not knowing if the danger…

From Louise's list on Nazi Germany.

A moral question that lies at the heart of my fascination with the city and Germany. How would I – and you -- have measured up under Nazis or Communists? Would we have resisted the dictators, or cheered them as we marched off to war? 'Alone in Berlin' tries to answer the question.

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