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Alone in Berlin

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  23,088 ratings  ·  2,727 reviews
Inspired by a true story, Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin is the gripping tale of an ordinary man's determination to defy the tyranny of Nazi Germany. This Penguin Classics edition contains an afterword by Geoff Wilkes, as well as facsimiles of the original Gestapo file which inspired the novel. Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski St ...more
Paperback, 668 pages
Published 2009 by Penguin Classics (first published 1947)
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Ian We have a choice, even when it seems that things are hopeless and the world is going in the opposite direction to our values.

In the end, the Gestapo …more
We have a choice, even when it seems that things are hopeless and the world is going in the opposite direction to our values.

In the end, the Gestapo officer who arrests Herr Quangel realizes how badly he has betrayed his own values and can no longer live with himself.

In a more hopeful light at the end of the war, the estranged son of a villainous informant is faced with helping out his old dad from whom he had run away, or, alternatively, turning him away and sticking to his new life. It is a choice between accepting and aiding your own blood family--the familiar, the tribe, the easy and obvious path--or recognizing that tribe as criminal, chaotic, and hurtful, and that it is best to turn away from the familiar and towards something new and hopeful.(less)
Asteropê Yes, they're the same book, just different titles. As you can see, they're listed as editions of each other -
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Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-10-2012, wwii, german
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.

Who would have thought that the novel concerning middle-aged couple dropping postcards on stairwells of random buildings would be so thrilling. But make no mistake. They were not ordinary cards. They carried on their surface some home truths and it was reason enough to give your head to executioner. Alone in Berlin or Every man dies alone reads like first-rate thriller though it’s something more. It’s a record, a meticulous one, of awakening and refusal. Awakening of spirit and refusal to be par
Violet wells
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it

"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
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author Hans Fallada, with native name Rudolf Wilhelm Friedrich Ditzen, is born on July 21st 1893 in Greifswald and he died on Feb 5th 1947 in Berlin. Hans Fallada manages with his book “Every Man Dies Alone” a great story during the time of the Nazi regime. The novel deals with the authentic case of the couple Otto and Elise Hampel, who were fated to die and to be executed for “disintegration of the military force” and “preparation for high treason”. The current events in this story are well ...more
Steven Godin
Hans Fallada has written an astonishing but ultimately tragic novel of German resistance to Nazism and the ever formidable Third Reich inferno, and I was stunned to learn it took something like 60 years for it's first English publication, and was penned in less than a month. Also Fallada could have escaped Germany; as a man whose books had been banned by the Nazis, and who had spent time in prison and psychiatric institutions as a result of a drug addiction, he should have got out. But if his in ...more
Bettie's Books

Re-visit 2015 via R4x: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 is killed "for Fuhrer and Fatherla
Jul 01, 2011 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
Feb 27, 2013 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
In this dark thriller, set in Berlin during World War II (1940-43), a working class couple, Otto and Anna Quangel, decide to protest and resist the Nazi regime after they learned that her only son was killed in action. Otto Quangel starts writing postcards with insults against Hitler, the Nazis, and the war and delivers them (unobserved) in office buildings in the hope that as many people as possible will read them and rethink, and thus perhaps bring about a speedy end to the dictatorship – an a ...more
Dec 24, 2009 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
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I value this novel for good psychological portrayal of ordinary German citizens who desperately tried to remain sane during years of insanity. Their silent struggle, both tragic and heroic, is supported by mutual devotion and love, which is all that is ultimately left. This is my favourite of Fallada's novels.
Hans Fallada - Alone in Berlin

When, 6 years ago, I saw Benigni's La Vita é Bella, it had such an impact on me, that during the final 30 minutes, I was feeling nauseous and trying to breathe as if a cannonball had landed on my chest. By the time the ending credits rolled, I remember, I was feeling as if the air had been sucked out of the room, so I ran to the balcony, hands on the railing, gasping for air and trying to find my composure again, while my girlfriend at the time was wondering whether
Lewis Weinstein
This is a magnificent work of fiction, based on a true story. Fallada evokes emotion repeatedly as he tells the story of an elderly couple, making war against Hitler, knowing they can't win, but achieving a sense of nobility beyond that which most of us even aspire to.

It is not a perfect book, as one would expect from a 500+ page novel written in 24 days and apparently never edited. There are extra characters and sub-plots that perhaps were not needed. But this is quibbling. It's a great read wh
Sam Quixote
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Berlin, 1940. While Hitler celebrates conquering France, a working class German couple – Otto and Anna Quangel – mourn the passing of their son, Ottochen, who fell in the fighting. Bitterly upset at the Fuhrer, they begin a quiet campaign of civil disobedience against his Third Reich, dropping hand-made postcards with anti-Nazi slogans printed on them across Berlin. The treasonous postcards are soon noticed and the Gestapo quickly take up the hunt for the culprits – but how long can the Quangels ...more
Jan 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Book Riot Community
This is an absolutely devastating novel about Otto and Anna Quangel, an older working-class German couple during World War II who wrote anti-Nazi messages on postcards and left them around Berlin. The two work on their own, not part of any larger resistance movement, and they have no way of knowing whether their messages are having any effect. It gets off to a slow start, as the Quangels start their work and the authorities begin to take notice and sift through various suspects to find the culpr ...more
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Dec 13, 2008 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:
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
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Arendt wrote of the 'banality of evil.' Fallada's book is maybe about the futility of good, or the absence of cohesion amongst those who were not endangered directly.

This WW2 story concerns non-Semitic Germans during this period. It melts into a pond of existentialism and it bespeaks another aspect of imperfect humanity.
October 31, 2016: Just learned from my friend, Kerstin, there is now a movie about this book, Alone in Berlin. I am not surprised. This is an amazing book. Dark, DARK, Dark, but so appropriate for this age we are living in ... preparatory, prophetic. Into our culture of death which teaches that nothing really matters comes a book and film which teaches the opposite; even our smallest little protests against this grinding machine COUNT. We count. Each and every one of us, from the very smallest u ...more
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
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, wwii
This is a beautiful book painting the lives of common people living through the terrible years of Nazi Germany, written just after the war by somebody who actually lived in lived through those years.

Fallada introduces us to carpenter Otto Quangel and his stay at home wife Anna in the first chapter, and we stay with these main protagonists for the whole book - but all around them many diverse specimens of humanity help paint what it was like. None of these characters is flat or stereotypical: eve
Mar 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hans Fallada was all but forgotten outside Germany when this 1947 novel, Alone in Berlin (US title: Every Man Dies Alone), was reissued in English in 2009, whereupon it became a best seller and reintroduced Hans Fallada's work to a new generation of readers.

I came to this book having read More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada by Jenny Williams, which was the perfect introduction into the literary world of Hans Fallada.

Alone In Berlin really brings alive the day-to-day hell of life u
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-read, germany
(Available in English as "Alone in Berlin" - a truly stupid title, the German original "Everyone dies on his own" is much more apt.)
Fallada wrote this text in only four weeks while he was treated in the psychiatric ward of the Charité Berlin; around two months later, in February 1947, he died of his addiction to morphine and alcoholism (remarkably, the novel features two doctors who try to numb themselves with morphine because they are harassed by the Nazis). "Jeder stirbt für sich allein" is su
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
They had failed to understand that there was no such thing as private life in wartime Germany. No amount of reticence could change the fact that every individual German belonged to the generality of Germans and must share in the general destiny of Germany, even as more and more bombs were falling on the just and unjust alike.

I found this novel to be incredibly moving. It did lag in the middle when the attention drifts from the grieved couple to myriad shitbags. I found the development of the cit
Mar 14, 2009 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
Greg Brozeit
I can’t remember having read anything more compelling in my life. This is the perfect novel. The plot weaves the experiences of a variety of characters to provide a disturbingly accurate depiction of life in a totalitarian state.

The two primary characters, Otto and Anna Quangel, receive a letter informing them that their son, a soldier in the German Wehrmacht, has been killed in the invasion of France. The Quangels later decide to engage in a secret plan to inform Germans about the reality of Na
This lumbering golem of a novel is a tragically prime example of how powerfully moving source material can turn to complete and utter mush in the hands of the wrong storyteller.

I’m aware that I am likely to be censured for this rating, not simply because it lurks amid a plethora of glowing reviews, but because this novel is based on the truth, and what a horrific truth. Perhaps the only vaguely compelling aspect of Alone in Berlin is its foundation in truth. Anything even vaguely biographical ca
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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

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