Diary of a Man in Despair
julie doceanie wrote:Diaries of Victor Klemperer, in three volumes, detailing life in Germany from the '20s thru the '50s, from the point of view of one of the victims of a society experiencing a psychotic break with reality.
His description of his experience being firebombed in Dresden in 1945 was one of the most harrowing things I have ever read.
A time of inhumanity recounted by a man of humanity., 22 Feb 2000
By George A. Webster (Scotland) - See all my reviews
Ignore Norman Stone's confused and obscure introduction and go directly to this 'lost' masterpiece, available for the first time in its unexpurgated form. The author, Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen, was a minor nobleman of Prussian origins - a man of impeccable korrektheit. Unlike others of his caste, Reck-Malleczewen not only perceived the Nazi's for the guttersnipes they were, but said as much right from the outset. This man saw these vulgarians as a national shame - and sardonically remarked in his diary upon those who encouraged them when their vicious philistinism was manifest. For his opinions, Reck-Malleczewen was denounced several times to the Gestapo; his final internment at Dachau ending with a bullet through the neck just weeks before the end of the war. On a purely literary level, Reck-Malleczewen is a masterful, prejudiced and incisive commentator on the hideous carnival that was Hitler's Third Reich. It is Germany's good fortune that the contemporary observations of diarists such as Reck-Malleczewen and Victor Klemperer
have survived. Not only do they bear witness to a modern Dark Age, but they reassure us that throughout it all there existed another Germany - a Germany which younger historians such as Daniel Goldhagen culpably ignore.
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling, eye-opening and agonisingly honest, 3 April 2000
By A Customer
Much has been written about the history of Germany under the Nazi Party, but genuinely honest and critical accounts by Germans themselves have very rarely made it into the English language. This account by Friedrick Reck-Malleczewen, a Prussian noblemen who lived in Bavaria during the Hitler years, is marked by his complete despair with the German people for falling for the tricks and scams of Hitler.
This book is the first I've read by a German which seeks to explain - but not excuse - the way the German nation reacted to Hitler in terms of mass social-psychology, or sickness and disease as metaphors for the collective loss of what the author saw as the virtues of the German nation in more socially secure times. Hitler is referred to as a boil, a virus, an abortion; clearly, he associates Germany's mental collapse with the diminished human status of a satanic Hitler. His perspective as a Prussian aristocrat mourning for the loss of old virtues might, to some readers, diminish his capacity to comment on the willingness of a people to subject itself to tyranny. But I found that this does not get in the way at all with his assessment, progressing from 1936 right up to his arrest in 1944, of why Germany acted as it did.
His assessment of the drifting of the German nation into the hysteria and banality of "mass-man" psychoses is vitriolic and escoriating in its condemnation of all the elements of the - at that time - modern society. His scorn is reserved for the industrialists and petit bourgeousie who he felt had thrown their lot in with Hitler and, in so doing, betrayed the positive characteristics of the German nation. He uses his knowledge of German philosophy to portray how far the Nazi party deviated from the virtues of the old European cultures, to powerful effect. However, I found the most satisfying elements of this account to be his observations of how deeply scarred German society became, how divorced from its former, moral self. For instance, he talks despairingly of innocent young Bavarian farming girls becoming prostitutes to service the SS elite, and of petty criminals reaching the upper echelons of power, previously manned with honour by men of Reck-Walleczewen's social class.
Not so much a diary, more one man's attempt to recalone with Hitler, in a beer cellar, in which the author was armed and had the opportunity to shoot Hitler, but did not, is one of those classic "what if" moments from history. It is powerful stuff, and gives a fantastic insight into just how deeply the virus of nationalism and racism, and amoralism, permeated the characters of average Germans, turning bakers into mass murderers and criminals into Field Marshalls. The vitriol and hatred of the Nazis is unmistable on every page. I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to really understand why the German nation acted as it did.
4.0 out of 5 stars The suffering of an antinazy in Germany during WWII, 10 Feb 2001
(Zaragoza, Spain) - See all my reviews
It is the first time that I read a book in which it is described the fact that there were some Germans who were absolutely against Hitler's regime. In this diary the author shares with the reader his feeling, attitudes and ideas during the Second World War. It was incredibly difficult not to be an ardent nazi during those years in Germany. A wonderful description of Nazi Germany from inside.
5.0 out of 5 stars "Diary of a Man in Despair" by Fritz Reck-Malleczewen, 20 Oct 2010
By VIKTORIA M. RECK-MALLECZEWEN (REAL NAME)
This book was written by my father, whom I witnessed hiding the entries in our orchard from the Nazis. So to me, who is biased, it is the BEST account ever written about this time. He wrote with a passion that even one, who blissfully has not lived in those days, cannot help but being moved by.
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly wonderful book, 9 May 2000
By A Customer
This book is by turns horrifying, very funny, beautiful and poetic. The subject matter is of course fascinating but of even more interest for me was the glimpse into the mind and heart of a true "Nobleman". The beauty and humanity of the man, (despite his very un pc views to today's ears), shines through the degradation and shame he felt on behalf of Germany. Because of this, despite the horror and pessimism, one is left with a vision of hope and comfort and a wish to be a better, (nobler), man.
Stupid Evil vs Regular Evil....
Don't know who to root for in that war.