Alone in Berlin - Hans Fallada
Every so often we pick up a book that is truly unputdownable, a book that is so well written, a book that has so much feeling and emotion it lives in the memory for a very long time...Alone in Berlin certainly did that for me. I was attracted firstly to the cover of this book in various books shops around Bristol and Bath and being a penguin publication the print, pages and binding were superior. I then noticed that it was originally published in 1947 and had just been republished here in the UK, the subject matter intrigued me as did the author Hans Fallada. When we consider stories set during WW2 very few are written from the German point of view and naturally we are inclined to believe that most Germans/Berliners were happy to support Hitler as he appeared to have put their country on a sound economic footing following the very lean years after the 1st WW. Alone in Berlin looks at one mans extroadinary and single handed stand against the forces of Nazism. Berlin at this time was a city of treachery, intrigue, deceipt and suspicion, citizens were encouraged to report on any unnatural activities that might undermine the word of the furher. Into all of this steps Otto, an ordinary German living in an apartment block in Berlin, when he receives a message that his only son has been killed fighting at the front. He's shocked and saddened, and decides to carry out an extroadinary act of resistance. He begins to drop anonymous postcards attacking Hitler across the city knowing that if he is caught or betrayed not only will he be tortured and killed but so will members of his immediate family. There evolves a silent war between Otto and and an ambitious Gestapo Inspector called Escherich. The prose the use of dialogue the sense of atmosphere and the enevitable sad conclusion all come together to make this a fantastic and emotional read, a read that never loses pace or sense of direction, and a read that I would certainly recommend as one of the memorable and intelligent novels of 2010.