‘I lived the same life as everyone else, the life ofordinary people, the masses.’ Sitting in a prison cell in theautumn of 1944, Hans Fallada sums up his life under the NationalSocialist dictatorship, the time of ‘inwardemigration’. Under conditions of close confinement, inconstant fear of discovery, he writes himself free from thenightmare of the Nazi years. His frank and sometimes provocativememoirs were thought for many years to have been lost. They arepublished here in English for the first time.
The confessional mode did not come naturally to Fallada the writerof fiction, but in the mental and emotional distress of 1944,self-reflection became a survival strategy. In the ‘house ofthe dead’ he exacts his political revenge on paper. ‘Iknow that I am crazy. I’m risking not only my own life,I’m also risking … the lives of many of the people I amwriting about’, he notes, driven by the compulsion to write.And write he does – about spying and denunciation, about thethreat to his livelihood and his literary work, about the fate ofmany friends and contemporaries such as Ernst Rowohlt and EmilJannings. To conceal his intentions and to save paper, he usesabbreviations. His notes, constantly exposed to the gaze of theprison warders, become a kind of secret code. He finally succeedsin smuggling the manuscript out of the prison, although it remainedunpublished for half a century.
These revealing memoirs by one of the best-known German writers ofthe 20th century will be of great interest to all readers of modernliterature.