Aaron's Reviews > I Will Bear Witness, Vol 1: A Diary of the Nazi Years 1933-41

I Will Bear Witness, Vol 1 by Victor Klemperer
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's review
Sep 24, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: history, non-fiction
Read in September, 2008 , read count: 1

What a ridiculous turn of events that produced this thing. Due to his marraige to an Aryan and a ton of luck, Klemperer, a Jew, managed to live out in the open in Dresden from the beginning of the Third Reich until the Dresden bombings, which gave him and his wife the cover to escape. Kemperer was one of less than 200 Jews who managed to stay in Dresden that long. Thousands of his fellow Jews were "deported." And then, according to the intro, on the very day he was added to the deportation list, Dresden was leveled.

How amazing, then, that a guy like this, a highly literate man (he was a French literature prof.) would hang around in the Third Reich for so long, recording conversations he had around town, opinions on the Third Reich, and, of particular interest to him, the way the Nazi propaganda machine crafted ideology through language.

What was particularly interersting, to me at least, was the evolution of taxation and law under Hitler as it applied to Jews. When I thought of Jews under the Reich, I tended to think of thuggish SS men, police, and widespread prejudice as the primary force by which Jews were manhandled. I don't think this is an uncommon notion. But as Klemperer records, the Nazis forced Jews into a tiny corner with an avalanche of laws -- laws that, little by little, stripped them of their propery, their savings, and eventually, their right to move about in the neighborhood.

This volume, by the way, only goes through the end of 1941. I sped through to the end, anticipating an account of the Dresden bombing, and now feel like a total idiot.
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message 1: by Lilo (new) - added it

Lilo Even as a preschooler (I was born 1939), I could not understand why our family did not leave Germany during the war, and we were not even Jews. As an adult, I realized that it wasn't all that easy. Yet the majority of Jews missed the chance to leave Germany while they would still have been able to, just as the majority of non-Nazi Germans missed doing something against Hitler while it was still possible.

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