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I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years 1942-45 (I Will Bear Witness #2)

4.32  ·  Rating Details ·  1,002 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Destined to take its place alongside The Diary of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel's Night as one of the great classics of the Holocaust, I Will Bear Witness is a timeless work of literature, the most eloquent and acute testament to have emerged from Hitler's Germany. Volume Two begins in 1942, the year the Final Solution was formally proposed, and carries us through to the Alli ...more
Paperback, 576 pages
Published April 3rd 2001 by Modern Library (first published 1995)
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An astonishing document that's unlike anything else I know that might fit under the heading of Nazi period memoirs. The perspective it provides — that of a Jewish academic and his "Aryan" wife living in Dresden during a time of state-sponsored racism — is unique. Moreover, it's very well written. Do read both volumes.
Jun 04, 2010 Meaghan rated it it was amazing
This is the second volume of Klemperer's diaries (you don't need to read them in order, but you ought to). It's January 1942. The war is swirling around him and the deportations have begun in earnest. One by one Klemperer's friends are arrested, deported or commit suicide; he himself expects to be picked up at any time and contemplates ending his life. But he is determined to live, to "bear witness" to the atrocities around him, the many greater and lesser agonies he and other Jews endure. He is ...more
Thomas J. Hubschman
Jan 09, 2014 Thomas J. Hubschman rated it it was amazing
I Will Bear Witness, 1933-1941 & 1942-1945
A Diary of the Nazi Years
By Victor Klemperer

Victor Klemperer was a professor of French literature, specializing in the Enlightenment, employed at the Technical University of Dresden at the time the Nazis came to power in 1933. At that point in his career he already had a few scholarly works in print and was planning another, a project on the 18th century he continued researching and writing until circumstances forced him to postpone that work. But he
Nov 08, 2010 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Klemperer, Victor. I WILL BEAR WITNESS. A DIARY OF THE NAZI YEARS. 1942-1945. (1995). ****. This is the second volume of Klemperer’s diary spanning the years of the rise of Nazism to the final days of the conflict in Europe. It is, as is the first part, an almost day-by-day account of the horrors he and his wife – and the rest of the Jewish population of Dresden – went through. As the war progressed, more and more restrictions were placed on the Jews. At one point, he lists thirty-one of the res ...more
Jul 17, 2011 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one was tough to get through at times, but I'm glad I pushed on and finished it. Overall, this was a fascinating first-hand account of being a Jew in Nazi Germany.

Victor Klemperer is a former professor and is Jewish. He's married to Eva, who is Aryan. Being in a "mixed marriage", Klemperer enjoys more freedom than if he were married to a Jewish woman. He was an extensive diarist (there are books documenting the years before and after the years covered in this book), chronicling minute deta
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 07, 2009 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: Tata J
Shelves: 501, memoirs
It was a challenge to read this diary-book because it is as if you are given privy to a long (500+ pages) personal diary which is unstructured. However, I admire Professor Klemperer for having the courage of keeping the journals despite the threat of being persecuted by the Gestapo just by maintaining it. I mean who is in his right mind put his own life just for the sake of maintaining a diary? Anne Frank was in a hiding and she had nothing to do behind the cabinet by Professor Klemperer was out ...more
Sep 11, 2012 Okokok rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Victor Klemperer Diaries
Of the many so-called memoires about Jewish life during WW2 this has the advantage of actually being written by a Jew – apparently not all were, there having been quite a few people who sought this way to cash in on others’ misfortunes (as mentioned in Norman Finkelstein’s “Holocaust Industry”). The strange thing is that this particular book was published very, very many decades after the events described. One can only surmise that this was because it didn’t fit into the
Aug 17, 2008 Jo rated it it was amazing
In April 1935, Klemperer (1881-1960) was a Protestant professor of French literature at Dresden University and a veteran of WWI. By early May, he was simply a Jew and, like other Jews, forcibly retired. His marriage to an Aryan woman gave him some small protection. By 1945, he was one of only 198 registered Jews left in Dresden. Through it all, Klemperer kept a diary, that was not intended to be published. It is a detailed account of living under the Nazis, indignity piled on indignity, all that ...more
Oct 12, 2009 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've always wondered, what did the "average" German know about the "Final Solution" during WWII. Victor Klemperer, a professor in Dresden before the war, survived and kept a secret diary from 1932 - 1945. He was of Jewish descent, married to an "aryan" - and his story is a deeply compelling one. He is a gentle, thoughtful, often dispassionate chronicler of the Nazi party and its careful campaign of marginalization, mental and physical torture and murder of the Jews. He was a linguist, and paid p ...more
Apr 01, 2016 Lysergius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
This second volume of Victor Klemperer's diary covers the period from the beginning of the Holocaust to the end of the war, telling the story of the Klemperer's increasing isolation, their growing awareness of the Holocaust as friends and associates disappear. Finally chronicling their near miraculous survival as the war ends and they make their way back from Munich to Dresden.
Ian Major
Sep 11, 2016 Ian Major rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just as fascinating as the first volume, 'I shall Bear Witness' (1933-41). I've found these two volumes very enlightening on the various responses of human nature to State-terrorism. Why would Jews choose to stay in Germany when they could see a direct threat to their livelihoods and liberties when others of them cut their losses and left? It is now plain why. And the complexities of opinions and prejudices among the Jews and the Aryans they encountered!
I found the diaries so valuable, not only
Andrew Davis
Aug 27, 2015 Andrew Davis rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
The second volume of Victor Klemperer's history of his survival during the war years. Records his daily life, continually increasing restrictions, opinions and encounters with Jewish and Arian people in Dresden. Klemperer was one of the few lucky survivors who survived thanks to his marriage to non-Jewish wife and as veteran of the first world war. However, as Nazis continued to disfrenchise any remaining Jews he would be most likely killed before Hitler's fall, if not for the bombing of Dresden ...more
Sep 26, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all
Recommended to David by: WSJ
These comments apply to both Vol. I (1933-1941) and Vol. II (1942-1945). I also read his 1945-1959 diary, entitled "The Lesser Evil," which I shall review separately.

"I Shall Bear Witness" Vol. I & II, taken together, are an eye-opening account of the every day life struggles of a German Jew who wasn't even religous and was married to a Christian (the latter fact contributed to Klemperer's escaping some of the deadly effects of the Third Reich, at least until the very end). I say eye-opening
Klemperer's diary helps us to understand Nazism. Klemperer dairies give a first hand account of the atrocities faced by Jews during the reign of Hitler over Germany. His prose also chronicles many events giving explanations to why many ‘ordinary’ Germans accepted or denied the actions of the NSDAP. It is definitely proof that many Germans who later claimed not to know about the terrors associated with the Nazi regime actually knew about them by either, participating, resisting or being a bystand ...more
Mar 14, 2012 Sunny rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war
shocking but incedible book. about 500 plus pages and from day one of this incredible diary you get a sense of a long arduous marathon that Victor had to go through, through hell. it descibes his almsot daily turmoil in Dresden between 42 an 45 (this is part 2 - part 1 was also excellent), he was old, had to worry about food, water, the SS, calls to concentration camps, he had to see his friends taken away around him one by one month after month. you get used to him asking when it will be his tu ...more
Mark Colenutt
Aug 11, 2013 Mark Colenutt rated it it was amazing
This is the second volume of Klemperer's diary and the tension begins to heighten as the reader's benefit of historical hindsight coincides with the approach of 1945 and the inevitable end to the war. However, what will be the fate of the writer and in what ways will the perceptions of those around him begin to change as the realisation that Germany will eventually surrender begins to take root?

This is the added dimension to the diaries, which are the most important addition to the study of Nazi
Aug 19, 2011 Mimi rated it it was amazing
Second volume of Dresden languages professor Klemperer's secret diary which he kept from 1933-1945. He was spared deportation because he was married to an Aryan woman, but they were still deprived of their home, job, books, typewriter, radio, newspapers, etc. A fascinating view of the war from ground level and from those kept in the dark about what was happening, except for rumors. Klemperer and his wife amazingly survived the war (and the destruction of Dresden). His second wife compiled and de ...more
Elizabeth Brown
Mar 01, 2015 Elizabeth Brown rated it it was amazing
This is as readable and absorbing as the first volume in the series. By the beginning of this volume, Victor is mostly housebound and much more isolated. I appreciated the nuances and care in explaining the details of daily life, as many movies on the Holocaust tend to show more dramatic events. In particular the decrees and the effect of each one on him is keenly felt.

The final section where the Klemperers escape Dresden and the final months of the war is especially compelling, as the bureaucr
Jul 04, 2008 Pam rated it really liked it
I had to read volume 2 find out whether their house in Dresden was still there after the war was over and they finally got home. Otherwise their lives only got more and more restricted, terrifying and depressing as the war drags on. It took real courage for the author to write as it was illegal to do so and he could have faced death if discovered. For that reason alone, we should read his account.
Aug 09, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing
I can't give this less than five stars, I just can't. Although a little repetitive it is a fantastic memoir of living through WWII as a Jew in Germany. Something entirely unimaginable. Although intended to be written as an observer the raw emotion is clear in most of the daily struggle, struggle to find enough to eat, to keep below the radar of the Gestapo, to stay alive. It's fantastic and I have to get my hands on Vol. 1.
Victoria Stevens
Aug 04, 2013 Victoria Stevens rated it it was amazing
In the second of the three diaries, Klemperer has passed from German citizen, through targeted Jew, back- almost- to German citizen, as the Allied draw closer to Dresden. The small hopes on which he and his wife survive draw near to extinguishment. His small entries read resoundingly. My favorite of the three diaries.
Ann Riley
Oct 29, 2012 Ann Riley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was going to take a break after reading volume 1 of this, but I couldn't put the story on pause and had to continue with volume 2.

Klemperer's diaries are some of the best on the Holocaust that I've read. He never went to a camp, as a Jew married to an 'Aryan' wife is what saved him. "I Will Bear Witness", the title, tells the reason behind his diaries.
Linse Daugaard
Sep 07, 2014 Linse Daugaard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
En tysk professor af tysk-jødisk oprindelse, men arisk gift, fortæller om årene 1933 - 41 under nazistyret, og hvilken betydning det fik for ham og familien, og med masser af iagttagelser. Et absolut must read, hvis man interesserer sig for perioden, og/eller den nazistiske styreform i praksis.

Bind 2 dækker årene 1942 - 45.
May 21, 2016 Matthew rated it really liked it
Heart-wrenching tale of the ex-professor and his wife as the Nazi regime crumbles and he faces deprivation, cruelty and the possibility of being killed at any moment because of the myriad restrictions placed on Jews by the 3rd Reich's madmen in charge. Highly recommended.
Aug 14, 2010 Tilmann rated it really liked it
It is a very unusual picture of life in the Third Reich. Victor Klemperer was jewih, he survived because he was married to a non-jewish woman. Ironically, at the very end of the war the Dresden Firestorm save his life.
Elizabeth Garnar
Jul 03, 2011 Elizabeth Garnar rated it really liked it
These diaries really do bear witness to the fear of the Jewish population of Dresden during the Nazi era. A first hand account of daily struggles. Klemperer draws the reader in, partly because like all human beings, he has his flaws. We sympathise, are irritated, but are compelled to read on.
Jan 26, 2013 L rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A very sad, true , account of the daily struggles of so many , although many Jews were even worse off- of course some repetition but it a huge struggle to stay alive

Oct 21, 2007 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many extraordinary things about the quality of Klemperer's life and story, but to mention one: the detailing of the incremental accretion of one horrific indignity after another.
Mar 29, 2013 Mashehu rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
Sehr interessanter Einblick in das Leben eines privilegierten Verfolgten und dessen Beobachtungen der Veränderungen. Soundtrack: Max Richter - Sarajevo
Aug 16, 2016 David rated it it was amazing
How did Victor and his wife Eva survive the risk of deportation and death, deprivation and Dresden? An amazing memoir and a reminder how determined the Nazi's were to achieve their final solution.
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Victor Klemperer (9 October 1881 – 11 February 1960) worked as a commercial apprentice, a journalist and eventually a Professor of Literature, specialising in the French Enlightenment at the Technische Universität Dresden. His diaries detailing his life under successive German states—the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic—were published in 1995. His ...more
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Other Books in the Series

I Will Bear Witness (3 books)
  • I Will Bear Witness, Vol 1: A Diary of the Nazi Years 1933-41
  • Ich will Zeugnis ablegen bis zum Letzten: Tagebücher 1933-1945

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“March 18...[1945]
Brief morning reflection arisen from great love. In fact, the main point after all is that for forty years we have so much loved one another and do love one another; in fact, I am not at all sure at all that all this is going to come to an end. For certain, nothingness--en tant que individual consciousness, and there is the true nothingness--is altogether probable, and anything else highly improbable. But have we not continually experienced, since 1914 and even more since 1933 and with ever greater frequency in recent weeks, the most utterly improbable, the most monstrously fantastic things? Has not what was formerly completely unimaginable to us become commonplace and a matter of course? If I have lived through the persecutions in Dresden, if I have lived through February 13 and these weeks as a refugee--why should I not just as well live (or rather: die) to find the two of us somewhere, Eva and I, with angel wings or in some other droll form? It's not only the word "impossible" that has gone out of circulation, "unimaginable" also has no validity anymore.”
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