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The End: Hamburg 1943

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  160 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
One didn't dare to inhale for fear of breathing it in. It was the sound of eighteen hundred airplanes approaching Hamburg from the south at an unimaginable height. We had already experienced two hundred or even more air raids, among them some very heavy ones, but this was something completely new. And yet there was an immediate recognition: this was what everyone had been ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published December 31st 2006 by University Of Chicago Press (first published January 1st 1948)
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(showing 1-30 of 354)
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Dec 01, 2014 TK421 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays-auto-bio
My heart is broken after reading this slim memoir about the firebombing of Hamburg in 1943. What makes me saddest is the realization that humanity has not learned anything from the atrocities of WWII. I pray that my children will never have to endure something like this. I wish I could pray that no child would have to experience this but I know that would be a fruitless prayer.

Jeff Bursey
Dec 27, 2015 Jeff Bursey rated it really liked it
A sombre retelling of the bombing of hamburg by someone who lived through it. Well-written with sharp visual imagery.
Apr 29, 2015 William rated it really liked it
Nossack's work originally appeared in Interview mit dem Tode (1948) and was titled 'Der Untergang,' a word which in itself presents a translation difficulty. Translator Joel Agee points this out in his well-written introduction and defends his decision to translate this word as 'The End.' Untergang (literally 'down-going') has a sort of apocalyptic connotation to it, a word that has been used as the title for the 2004 film which depicts the Götterdämmerung end-game of the Second World War, and I ...more
Nov 07, 2013 James rated it really liked it
Personal accounts like these are best when they are passionate, descriptive, and most of all, concise. "The End" accomplishes all of these goals while eloquently describing the horrific burning of Hamburg. Nossack effectively conveys his story while admitting to the shortcomings of his narrative caused by poor memory and how he is limited to only is his personal experiences. Great worthwhile read that will only take you a day or two to finish.
Kris McCracken
Jan 04, 2015 Kris McCracken rated it liked it
An interesting little book that captures the feeling of returning to one's home (or lack thereof) in the immediate aftermath of destruction. The writing offers a very sparse examination of the effects of on the remaining inhabitants and offers a number of seemingly incomplete vignettes of life.

As such, don't expect too much beyond a certain feeling or tone.
Mary Warnement
Oct 19, 2016 Mary Warnement rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, germany
This slim volume, which includes a foreword by Joel Agee (also translator) and photos by Erick Andres, packs a punch. Nossack is a writer who lived in Hamburg when it was destroyed by allied bombers in 1943. He happened to join his girlfriend at a cabin in the country--out of the ordinary for him--and thus missed the bombing. They heard the planes. I hadn't ever thought about the sound that 1800 planes make, "like an oppressive weight." (7) I hadn't realized it took more than one raid, that it h ...more
Diego González
May 07, 2016 Diego González rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: iigm, ensayo, reportaje
Pequeña crónica de la desolación moral y psicológica que siguió a la destrucción sistemática de Hamburgo por parte de la Royal Air Force en 1943. Murieron cuarenta mil personas, pero eso no lo sabía el autor cuando vio como la ciudad ardía hasta los cimientos desde un pueblo cercano. Tras constatar la destrucción de su casa (y de toda la manzana, el barrio y la ciudad) el autor se convierte en refugiado, y en ese viaje se asoma al alma destruida de los que, como él, lo han perdido todo, pero tam ...more
Steve Scott
Feb 24, 2016 Steve Scott rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I didn't appreciate Nossack's surrealistic musings about what he saw and experienced. I founded it tedious and at times incoherent.

Understand that this is a reflection of my tastes in literature. You might find it just zippy.

In any case, a starker, more grounded set of observations might have moved me more. At times Nossak does this, as when he describes the thirty-seven people who were trapped in a bomb shelter that was directly adjacent to a coal bin that had caught fire. They roasted.

But no..
Christiane Alsop
I read this for research purposes and it's worth it: I got the details I needed about the aftermath of the bombing in Hamburg in July 1943. However, Sebald's assessment nails it. The author all too often takes off into excessively inflated metaphors. For all too understandable reasons, of course. He wrote his account four months after the events (in November) and was clearly still in shock.
Dec 29, 2015 Kristen rated it liked it
I found Nossack's surreal account of the aftermath of the bombing of Hamburg interesting from a literary perspective but also chilling. In particular, his account of what one feels to both be a refugee and to accept refugees seems particularly relevant in our current age.
Colin Szechy
Apr 16, 2016 Colin Szechy rated it it was amazing
Fantastically written viewpoint of a near post-apocalyptic, real life event, and the emotional and psychological toll it exerts. Plus, a great perspective on the victimhood that Germans felt post World War 2.
Mar 15, 2010 Genjiro rated it it was amazing
This eye-witness account of the destruction of Hamburg, one of hundreds of cities in Germany targeted during the Second World War, is a profoundly horrifying and tragic tale of human savagery. Written with no trace of rancor or enmity, this straight-forward depiction and description of the carnage and devastation leaves no doubts as to the barbarity and blindness underlying the Allied bombings campaigns. Much like the historic baroque city of Dresden, Hamburg and its residence become helpless vi ...more
Jun 30, 2015 John rated it really liked it
chilling account of 400,000 people killed in one night...
Margaret Sankey
Jul 29, 2011 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german
Hans Erich Nossack, writer and coffee merchant, former student Communist, watched the bombing of Hamburg from a rural vacation cabin and returned to a city of rubble. His short reflection is a study of the mindset of catastrophe--why do survivors sweep the stoop in front of a collapsed building? "Just eight days previously, who would have thought that Misi and I would be standing on the street drinking from a bottle with a man we hardly knew? But actually the concept of 'street' no longer existe ...more
Jul 28, 2011 Brittanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII history enthusiasts, history majors
Recommended to Brittanie by: Phoenix library
This book has beautiful word choice and descriptions of one man's experience during and after the Hamburg bombing by the Allied forces in 1943. Originally written in German and kept from a widespread audience for years, this offers a rarely seen apolitical point of view from "the other side" of WWII - the Germans'. It also includes many photos taken around the destroyed Hamburg that only adds to the narrative. I would recommend this for anyone interested in WWII history.
Dec 09, 2012 angela rated it it was amazing
A most moving book written so lyrically that a year later I still see the images Nossack paints via language. One may ask for more, but this truly is just a snapshot of an event and the aftermath. It isn't meant to be a complete historical account, but as a personal documentation of one immersed in a tragedy that is but a shard from the millions that never shall be inked. Grateful for the translation of this little book -- truly a work of prose poetry. ~
Lee Razer
Jan 26, 2009 Lee Razer rated it it was ok
As a description of the Allied firebombing of Hamburg during WWII, this slim volume doesn't offer much in the way of details. It is not a terribly useful history, and definitely not the "remarkable firsthand account" promised by the publisher. As a Germanic philosophical musing on the aftermath of great disaster, it is perhaps more successful.
Feb 20, 2011 Nick rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Short and powerful. I wanted more description of the horror and the sights in Hamburg, but oh well. This man was deeply affected by what he saw; a writer witness to the apocalypse. His prose does well to highlight life before and after the terrible firebombing of Hamburg.
Dec 02, 2009 Adam rated it it was amazing
A short but powerful reflection on living through the firebombing of Hamburg in 1943, probably one of the best pieces of writing on the Allies bombing campaign written in Germany. To draft something this honestly contemplative so proximate to the experience is staggering.
Jan 21, 2013 Elaine rated it it was amazing
This is a difficult book to comment on. Nossack describes what it was like to escape the bombing of Hamburg at the end of the second World War - the shock of having one's world destroyed, of trying to grasp the incomprehensible. Strangely he manages to succeed.
Oct 06, 2009 Sherif is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Great book, letting you live the 3rd German Reich last days w/ the Fuehrer himself, according to his secretary.
I'm really touched. It's far above the shallow american movies like the rise of the evil, the boy in strpped pijamas, and Valkyre.
Mar 16, 2014 Kaitlin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014
This is a wonderful, true, first-person telling of a civilian's experience of war. HIs emotions felt very real and the descriptions were vivid. Everything a memoir should be. Don't look at the pictures before bed.
Sep 18, 2011 Sal rated it really liked it
a haunting book, about the end of the world, or so it must have appeared when Hamburg was destroyed by a firestorm of allied bombing in 1943. almost a dream sequence, made more horrific because that nightmare was real.
David Levine
Oct 17, 2012 David Levine rated it it was amazing
Brutal. Absolutely brutal. Nossack and a friend watched the firebombing of Hamburg from afar and then had to go back and deal with it. Not that the Germans didn't deserve it...
Jul 08, 2012 Audrey rated it it was amazing
The true stories of Hamburg's undoing. Haunting and accurate, detailed and ominous, tragic in every way, but an account that should be read of the horrors of war.
Apr 28, 2013 Karl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Not to be read as a perfect historical account, but as a beautiful collection of the fragments of a life blown apart by one of history's most complex tragedies.
Mark Selby
Apr 22, 2013 Mark Selby rated it liked it
More of the writer's philosopy than actual events.
Jun 11, 2009 James rated it it was amazing
Astonishing document--an act of writing beyond writing.
L marked it as to-read
Oct 18, 2016
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Hans Erich Nossack war ein deutscher Schriftsteller, der zunächst als Lyriker und Dramatiker, später jedoch vor allem als Prosaautor in Erscheinung trat.
More about Hans Erich Nossack...

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“Why go on? I mean, why record all this? Wouldn’t it be better to surrender it to oblivion for all time? For those who were there certainly don’t have to read it. And the others, and those who will come later? What if they read it only to enjoy something strange and uncanny and to make themselves feel more alive? Does it take an apocalypse to do that? Or a descent into the underworld?” 3 likes
“Some will come and say: That’s how it always is, and this is what it means to be male: we have to destroy in order to create. But what if the earth were to say: I gave birth to you because I longed to be more than earth. Where now is your deed?” 2 likes
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