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The End: Hamburg 1943
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The End: Hamburg 1943

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  116 ratings  ·  22 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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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.

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
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.
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.
Kris McCracken
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.
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
Margaret Sankey
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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...
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.
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
More of the writer's philosopy than actual events.
Astonishing document--an act of writing beyond writing.
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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?” 2 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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