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Every Man Dies Alone

Every Man Dies Alone - Hans Fallada What makes Every Man Dies Alone more terrible than Orwell and Kafka, though, is that it isn’t wholly a work of fiction. The novel is based on the case of a German couple, Otto and Elise Hampel, who dropped anti-Nazi postcards around Berlin for two years and were executed in 1943. Hans Fallada survived internment in a Nazi asylum, and the novel demonstrates his intimate knowledge of Nazi police and prisons, as well as the network of petty informants and tattlers who helped keep the regime in power. It’s a surprisingly non-ideological novel: the Quangels, who lost their son in the war and are driven to their desperate act of resistance by grief, are not motivated by political or social goals loftier than common decency. And few of the Nazis they encounter and evade are true believers, either: they tend to be thugs or petty potentates driven by power, or decent men who have made painful compromises from which they cannot now escape. Fallada brings the broad sweep of history down to an intimate scale, and offers complex characters who are making their way in brutal circumstances.full review