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I Will Bear Witness 1942-45 A Diary of the Nazi Years

(I Will Bear Witness #2)

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  1,299 ratings  ·  55 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.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
This is exactly the same review that I left for "I Will Bear Witness 1933-41 A Diary of the Nazi Years". Why? Because the review still stands for this second volume. To say this book was a fun and enjoyable read wouldn't be accurate. To say that it's worth reading would be accurate. This is the second volume of the diary kept by Victor Klemperer - a Jewish-born Christian academic married to an 'Aryan' wife living in Dresden, Germany - during the Nazi years. This volume covers the years from 1942 ...more
Thomas J. Hubschman
Jan 09, 2014 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 did
May 29, 2010 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
Greg Brozeit
“Eva does not like to hear me talking about Hitler; I myself am as intensively concerned with him as a cancer researcher is with cancer.”
This second translated volume of Victor Klemperer’s diaries, covers the years 1942-1945, which spans the period when the “Final Solution” was implemented through months after the end of WWII. In the first volume, Klemperer’s despair continued about the fate of him and his wife Eva continued to grow. His diary entries document the ever increasing number of indig
Jul 17, 2011 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
May 18, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: Tata J
Shelves: memoirs, 501
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
Oct 12, 2009 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
Jan 25, 2012 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 describes his almost daily turmoil in Dresden between 1942 an 1945 (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 h ...more
Sep 11, 2012 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 14, 2008 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
Apr 01, 2016 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.
Gripping. Again, easier to read in the knowledge that the author survived, but so hard otherwise. Almost everyone who was in the three Jews' houses with the Klemperers either died or was deported to Theresienstadt or Auschwitz, and it is particularly hard to read about the main "deportation", in which around 300 people from Dresden were removed to barracks and then sent away, as we now know to almost immediate death (50 of this group actually made it into the camp, and 10 of those survived). By ...more
Eric Secrist
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me 9 months, but I finally finished this, and I am glad I did. I must say that my lack of German geography, culture, and politics made this a tough read. I actually quit on this book a couple of times, but kept renewing it through the library because I really wanted to finish it.

I wanted to understand more fully what happened in Germany at this time in history, why it happened, and how it happened. I am not sure there is a clear answer, but Klemperer's words are the truth, written by so
Jeremy Booty
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was, without doubt, the better of the two volumes of Kemperer's diaries. The diaries begin with what seems to be an endless chain of misjudgments and short sighted behaviors culminating with his refusal to even consider leaving Germany despite years of Nazi rule. His constant complaints about his life, although justified, are grating. That said, his dedication to his life's work is, in the end inspiring. His diaries leave us with a ground level view of life in Nazi Germany. This volume part ...more
Chara Skwah
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A continuation of the first set of journals, Victor Klemperer continues to capture readers through his precise observations made as objectively as possible, this time during the actual war years. Stark, unforgiving and an abject lesson in man's inhumanity to man.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This took a long time to read because there was a lot to finish. The ending of a diary of a Jew married to an Aryan, and never being put in a concentration camp. To bad there isn't a 3rd installment of what happened after, and before they passed away.
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: male-authors, ebook
The banality of horror and suffering.
Richard Foster
A diarist without illusions or pretensions (at least that I could see) who can tell more about wartime Germany, for all the Germans, not just the Jews, than a dozen other histories.
David Jones
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in WWII and holocaust
This book pulls you into a life and the reader can share in the growing sense of despair felt by Dr Klemperer over the course of the Nazi era. The reader begins the journey in 1933 in a decent yet mundane world full of middle-class pedestrian concerns and slowly but constantly strips away all wealth and comfort, and then descends into injustice and despair, where the human drive for survival progressively eclipses every other concern. Not only was Dr Klemperer very lucky to have survived this or ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant masterwork of the greatest account of daily life in Nazi Germany

Victor Klemperer’s “I Will Bear Witness Vol. 2” (and 1) is the single greatest non-fiction book I know. His diary recounts what it was like to live as an everyday German (of Jewish descent even though he was a Christian married to his soulmate (an Aryan), Eva, under the increasing degradation of society under the Nazis. As an ardent anti-Nazi, he felt it his solemn duty to record everyday life, in an uncensored critique of
Andrew Davis
Aug 27, 2015 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 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, as
Steve Mayer
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gives a gripping account of what it was like to be a Jew in Germany during World War II. I read the first volume years ago, and it was so disturbing I had to wait fifteen years to read the second one. In the first volume the noose of anti-semitic laws tightens inexorably around Klemperer's neck; by the time the second volume opens every aspect of his existence is subject to Nazi race laws. Klemperer survives partially by luck and partially by being married to an Aryan. But he still has ...more
Ian Major
Sep 11, 2016 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
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
Mark Colenutt
Jul 04, 2013 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 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
Feb 08, 2015 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 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.
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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

Other books in the series

I Will Bear Witness (3 books)
  • I Will Bear Witness 1933-41 A Diary of the Nazi Years
  • 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.”
“Always the same seesaw. The fear that my scribbling could get me put into a concentration camp. The feeling that it is my duty to write, that it is my life’s task, my calling. The feeling of vanitas vanitatum, that my scribbling is worthless. In the end I go on writing anyway, the diary, the Curriculum.” 2 likes
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