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Every Man Dies Alone

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  12,346 Ratings  ·  1,740 Reviews
This disturbing novel, written in 24 days by a German writer who died in 1947, is inspired by the true story of Otto and Elise Hampel, who scattered postcards advocating civil disobedience throughout war-time Nazi-controlled Berlin. Their fictional counterparts, Otto and Anna Quangel, distribute cards during the war bearing antifascist exhortations and daydream that their ...more
Kindle Edition, 544 pages
Published August 9th 2009 (first published 1947)
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Elijah Kinch Spector
[Cross-posted on my blog, with some great pictures!]
Well holy fuck that was one of the best books I've ever read.

When I started Every Man Dies Alone, I had two fears: one, that it would be too dark and do too good a job of taking a depressing look at how terrible humans can be, and I wouldn't want to keep reading it; or two, that it would show the main characters' personal rebellion -- a series of postcards with anti-Nazi slogans dropped around Berlin -- as a regime-changing act of genius that
May 04, 2012 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, german, top-10-2012
Loved this.

But first, some context:

Hans Fallada is the pen name of Rudolf Ditzen. At the age of 18, Ditzen and a friend went out in the countryside and, in the manner of duellists, fired guns at each other over some adolescent sexual rutting. The friend missed, but Ditzen's aim was true. Taking his friend's gun, Ditzen shot himself in the chest, but survived. For the first of many times, Ditzen was committed to a sanatorium for the mentally ill. Released, Ditzen turned to alcohol and narcotics.
Jan 08, 2010 brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
after losing their son to the war, berlin residents otta and anna quangel launch a mini-revolt against the reich and fuhrer in the form of postcards around the city which speak subversive messages directly to the people. read in the age of twitter and viral videos, this seems, at once, awfully quaint and particularly profound. there was a time, i gather, when words mattered; when there didn't exist a barrage of partisan wingnuts flooding the zeitgeist with nonsense. but lemme skip the cranky old ...more
Sep 19, 2011 Praj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I should express thanks to Gudrun Burwitz, for if it was not for her ruthless news, I would not have found a brilliant book that stands for every belief which Ms. Burwitz expels from her very survival. Couple weeks ago, a news article describing Burwitz as the new “Nazi grandmother” made me explore further for its validity. Ms. Burwitz who at the ripe age of 81, still strives hard to support and nurture the most modern breed of Nazis ,keeping alive the malicious work and memory of her father Hei ...more
Apr 23, 2013 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some books make you work for it. They're not easy, they're difficult, they're sprawling and slow and undecided. Until they're not. Until you feel the gigantic heart beating at its nervous center, its unabashed humanity and intelligence.
It took me 250 pages to fully get into this one, and suddenly it took a turn and I was hooked like never before by its vital urgency. The characters were full-fleshed, fully realized, flawed and magnificent at the same time. The novel rushed towards its inevitabl
Violet wells

"Then he picked up the pen and said softly, but clearly, "The first sentence of our first card will read: Mother! The Führer has murdered my son."....At that instant she grasped that this very first sentence was Otto's absolute and irrevocable declaration of war, and also what that meant: war between, on the one side, the two of them, poor, small, insignificant workers who could be extinguished for just a word or two, and on the other, the Führer, the Party, the whole apparatus in all its power
Nov 20, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After having started 2011 with a couple of disappointing novels this one blew me away. Written in 1947 but set in the middle years of the war it follows a number of different characters ranging from the noble and kind through the naive and tragic to the utterly loathsome making a few stops at the fairly disgusting. All emotions are here and this reader certainly experienced quite a few of them himself.

The hero and heroine,(Fallada speaks of people in their fifties or even late forties as being
Non conoscevo affatto né l’autore, né il romanzo. Sono stata indotta a prenderlo in mano dopo aver letto le recensioni di Sandra e di Roberto. E ho fatto bene a seguire i loro consigli, perché merita. A malapena riuscivo a posarlo, la sera, per andare a dormire. E sempre con dispiacere. Perché, nonostante lo stile asciutto, scevro da lungaggini, quasi “spartano” direi, ci si immerge poco a poco in un’atmosfera fatta di paura, di costante timore, di angoscia. Una cappa desolante di sfiducia, in c ...more
Esteban del Mal
Nazis: history's equivalent to that team that always gets trounced by the Harlem Globetrotters, the Washington Generals.

Every time you see Nazis in a movie or read of Nazis in book, you know that they're gonna get theirs in the end. It's akin to something like culturally accepted wisdom to dismiss them as caricatures. But they aren't caricatures (Godwin's Law notwithstanding) -- they existed (DO exist), and for a while there it looked like they might even run things. The period of their ascenda
If I could have given this six stars, I would have.

Maybe it was because I read it in a day, or maybe because it was based on a true story, I know I will not forget this book for a long time.

Much WW2 literature is written from the view point of the English during the blitz, the French heading up the Resistence or the Nazi's wreaking evil. I think there is only Alone in Berlin and The Book Thief that I have read, which has given an insight into the dire situation that the ordinary Germans lived t
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I read this while I was also reading Robert Fisk's The Great War for Civilisation The Conquest of the Middle East . Bad idea. Very bad idea. Note to self: Reading two depressing books at the same time does not do good things to one's mood.

There has been a surge of interest in the German experience of World War II, particularly the experience of those who tried to resist the war mongering. This novel joins works like The Song Before It Is Sung A Novel , Valkyrie The Plot To Kill Hitler , and
This has got to be the best book I've read in months, at least. Certainly the best novel. I had been waiting for it for months (the library had only one copy and others were ahead of me), and it was worth it. I sat down and read the whole book in a single day.

The premise is excellent -- a perfectly ordinary, working-class German couple carries on their own private campaign of resistance by dropping postcards with anti-Nazi messages. I knew this was going to be a great story. But even more impres
Oct 04, 2010 Chrissie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Having read through 185 pages and disliking every minute spent with the book, I am stopping. All of my criticisms remain. Fallada wrote this book in 24 days. It shows. IF SOMEONE WANTS TO READ THIS BOOK - CONTACT ME, MAYBE WE CAN SWAP bOOKS!

P.S. I went back and reread the Kirkus review. I should have read the review more carefully. It is clearly stated that the characters are "archetypal to a fault". I recommend that carefully read Kirkus's review. Here follows a link to that review:
Mar 06, 2016 Tasos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Χρονικό της μάταιης (;) αντίστασης ενός ηλικιωμένου ζευγαριού Γερμανών ενάντια στο ναζιστικό καθεστώς το βιβλίο του Fallada είναι αποκαλυπτικό ως προς την απεικόνιση της γερμανικής κοινωνίας στην περίοδο του Β παγκοσμίου πολέμου και δεν χαρακτηρίστηκε τυχαία από τον Primo Levi ως το σημαντικότερο βιβλίο για τη γερμανική αντίσταση στους Ναζί, καθώς τίποτα επικό και υπεράνθρωπο δεν εξιστορείται εδώ, αλλά η αντίσταση είναι ο μόνος φυσικός τρόπος του ανθρώπου να διατηρήσει την αξιοπρέπεια του στη φρ ...more
Sep 08, 2015 Roberto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lo scrittore tedesco Rudolf Ditzen, noto come Hans Fallada, tossicodipendente, alcolizzato, finito più volte in galera e in manicomio, scrisse nel 1946 in soli 24 giorni le 700 pagine del romanzo, basandosi sui fascicoli provenienti dalla Gestapo sulla vera storia dei coniugi Otto ed Elise Hampel (Quangel nel libro), lui operaio e lei casalinga, che decisero di opporsi al nazismo semplicemente lasciando per le vie di Berlino cartoline che invitavano i tedeschi a ribellarsi al nazismo.
Un atto che
Mar 14, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hans Fallada is the pen name of German writer Rudolf Ditzen. Starting his writing career in the 1920s, Fallada continued to write through the fall of the Weimar Republic, the Great Depression, and the rise of the Nazi Party to its rule of Germany. He stayed in Germany after the Nazis took power and managed to survive the war becoming an author of some note in Soviet-occupied Germany after the war.

Every Man Dies Alone looks at one couple's small act of resistance to the Nazis during the war. At t
Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone is the fictionalized account of Otto and Elise Hampel’s unsuccessful localized propaganda effort against the Third Reich during World War II. When the author, Fallada first read about the Hampels’ unspectacular and unsophisticated ‘postcard campaign’ immediately after the war, he was not impressed. Of the 287 hand-written and badly spelled cards, 265 were immediately turned into the Nazi authorities. Compared to (say) von Stauffenberg and his associates’ attem ...more
Panos Lettas
Apr 07, 2016 Panos Lettas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Qualche giorno fa ho visto alcune scene del film di Francesco Rosi “tre fratelli”, ed una in particolare mi è rimasta addosso, non riesco a togliermela dalla mente. Philippe Noiret interpreta un magistrato che lavora sotto costanti minacce di morte, il quale, tornato al suo paese nelle Murge, al bar della piazza incontra i vecchi compaesani che lo interrogano su come comportarsi in caso si assista a un fatto di reato, se parlare o tacere. Lui risponde, citando l’operaio Guido Rossa, che ha avuto ...more
Talmente sconvolgente, questo romanzo, nella sua semplicità, che, a fine lettura-ormai tre anni fa, non sono stata abbastanza lucida da formulare un benché minimo commento: avevo bisogno di tempo per assimilare... Eppure lucida era stata la lettura, coinvolgente e intensa; la scrittura è immediata e asciutta; la storia essenziale e pulita. La sua forza sta proprio nel contrasto tra la semplicità, quasi tenera ed ingenua, dei protagonisti e il mondo cinico e crudele che li circonda e li opprime; ...more
Jan 15, 2016 Gautam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
-Picaresque, flat, unnecessary characters that add almost nothing to the story.
-Bland characterization of the protagonists.
-550 pages novel which could have been much shorter.
-This is a thriller that fails to thrill.


2 stars solely for the actual couple for their audacity against the brutish Nazis.

2 stars on 5!
May 28, 2014 knig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: whatthe-hell, 2014
At first, I was like: Not another WWII book. Please. Just no. The horse has been flogged to bloody death, its flesh has been run through the grinder so many time even Asda won’t stock it, what more is there to say, right, and if you want to still say it, go ahead with your own life, leave me alone

But. I somehow paid 4.99 in a moment of insanity and downloaded the bloody thing and now its like: well, I have to read it to get my money’s worth (cause I’m cheap like that). (and inebriated enough. (
Mar 10, 2011 Sophie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A really powerful novel set in Berlin during the Third Reich, based on a true story. It's the story of an elderly couple who, after the death of their son, realize the true horror and wrongness of the Nazi regime, and as a consequence they become resistance fighters. Their resistance is a small one; there are no planned assassinations or big events. Rather, they write postcards that detail the wrongs of the regime, in order to make other people realize that what is going on is wrong. They leave ...more
Falada se zapanjujuće brzo čita kad se ima u vidu tema :| Vidi se šta je rutiniran pisac: pripovedanje jednostavno, sve pregledno, preovlađuju dijalozi... i op, ode šest stotina stranica za tri-četiri dana.
A tema... eh. Najupečatljiviji i najtužniji momenat u knjizi jeste kad policijski komesar pokazuje uhapšenom mapu Berlina sa obeleženim tačkama: od 285 rukom pisanih letaka protiv Hitlera koliko je on stigao da ispiše, građani su Gestapou odmah dostavili... 267. Reda mora biti.

Sve ostalo je tu
From BBC Radio 4 - Classical Serial:
From the Novel by Hans Fallada. Dramatised for radio by Shelagh Stephenson

Primo Levi's declaration that Alone in Berlin is "the greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis" is bold and unequivocal. English readers have had to wait 60 years to explore the 1947 novel in which Otto Quangel, a factory foreman (Ron Cook) and his wife Anna (Margot Leicester) believe themselves morally obliged to take on the full might of the Nazis.

When their son

There is good reason to skip the category of books known as Historical Fiction, and sometimes the reason is obvious. The dutiful re-imagining of epic, faraway historical circumstances, conversation intimately exchanged there, often on the dizzying verge of tragedy or sacrifice ... is the stuff of melodrama or daytime tv, not good fiction. The difficult aspect to sustain across the length of a novel is that 're-imagining' part, wherein the author privately has no idea of the world he's busy orche
Overall, reading “Alone in Berlin” was a deeply thought provoking and chilling experience. It’s a book that drove home to me the sheer awesome immensity and frightening reach of World War. The first part of the book sets, as it were, the scene, introducing the characters and their relationships. At times I struggled to maintain interest. But Part 1 should not be lightly skipped through, because it introduces the reader to the foundational relationships that so solidly underpin parts II, III, &am ...more
Jun 30, 2009 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must have read dozens of thrillers set in Germany during World War II, but even the best of them (possibly Marshall Browne’s Eye of the Abyss) cannot touch Fallada’s unforgettable novel of life under and in the midst of the third Reich. The death of their son in the conquest of France provokes taciturn factory foreman Otto Quangel and his meek wife Anna into an act of resistance that is no less dangerous for its smallness and ineffectuality. They drop subversive postcards around the city like ...more
May 23, 2010 kit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful, absorbing book detailing the small, personal rebellions and resistances against Nazi Germany by a handful of its citizens, at the forefront Otto Quangel and his wife Anna. One of the reasons I enjoyed Alone in Berlin is that Fallada does not attempt to elevate the Quangels' resistance to an importance it does not deserve - while Otto is hopeful that his postcards are having an effect, it is later revealed his efforts have been largely futile. In this way, the novel is largely unforg ...more
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Bright Young Things: April 2014 - Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada 66 48 Aug 25, 2014 02:48AM  
A unique view from inside ? What did you feel? 13 121 Jan 11, 2013 09:21AM  
  • Diary of a Man in Despair
  • The Oppermanns
  • Pavel & I
  • Transit
  • Visitation
  • A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary
  • The Blindness of the Heart
  • Billiards at Half-Past Nine
  • Defying Hitler
  • What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933
  • The Invention of Curried Sausage
  • The German Lesson
  • The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman
  • Green Henry
  • Silesian Station (John Russell, #2)
  • I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years 1942-45
  • In Times of Fading Light
  • Comedy in a Minor Key
Hans Fallada, born Rudolf Wilhelm Adolf Ditzen in Greifswald, was one of the most famous German writers of the 20th century. His novel, LITTLE MAN, WHAT NOW? is generally considered his most famous work and is a classic of German literature. Fallada's pseudonym derives from a combination of characters found in the Grimm fairy tales: The protagonist of Lucky Hans and a horse named Falada in The Goo ...more
More about Hans Fallada...

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“As it was, we all acted alone, we were caught alone, and every one of us will have to die alone. But that doesn’t mean that we are alone.” 62 likes
“Not that she's a political animal, she's just an ordinary woman, but as a woman she's of the view that you don't bring children into the world to have them shot.” 60 likes
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