Every Man Dies Alone – Hans Fallada

Every Man Dies Alone

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 Heinrich Himmler, the chief authority behind the Gestapo operations. “The princess of Nazism “, as one of the historian terms Gudrun, is a despicable bitch loathing the essence of humanity through her narrowed National Socialist mindset. I would not identify her as a cultured human being, let alone a decent citizen of a wonderful country. However, she would have been felicitated for her abhorrence during the Third Reich. In 1940’s Gudrun Burwitz would have been a decent German; the ideal daughter of Deutschland. Not, Otto Quangel, though. He was a traitor, a criminal who committed treason against the Fuhrer. Otto Quangel was the ‘Hogoblin’, whose righteous words were feared by anyone who touched or read them.

Otto and Anna Quangel was a working class couple. Like many other couples they were decent Germans. They obeyed their Fuhrer, you see. Their only son was serving in the army defending Hitler’s gruesome idea of legality of human race. They helplessly saw their neighbors being caught and shipped to concentration camps, while they silently sipped their watery coffee in sheer silence. They had to be tough in life. That was the common justification of every brutality the Gestapo police committed. Then one fine day, the death news of their only son arrived and Anna in a bursts of sorrow shrieked, “you and your Fuhrer!”. For Otto, a man of few words, Anna’s words weighed more than the misery of losing his child. The agony of guilt swelled up Otto’s moralistic integrity overwhelming his internal ethics. Otto proposed an obscure form of anti-Nazi warfare. He would write postcards with slogans against the ongoing atrocities.

“Mother! The Fuhrer has murdered my son! Mother! The Fuhrer will murder your sons too; he will not stop till he has brought sorrow to every home.”

Otto’s heroic resistance to the Nazi Regime magnified only through his personal tragedy. Did the death of his son made him courageous as now he had nothing to lose? Would Otto walk the mutinous path had his son arrived safely home?

Hans Fallada who suffered through his own personal war as Rudolf Ditzen, brings the laudable efforts of Elise and Otto Hampel (1931), a real life couple who wrote anonymous postcards and leaflets to educate people about the ongoing atrocities ,informing to not buying Nazi papers and resist from participating in the war. The writing is trouble-free and the plot predictable; nevertheless, throughout the fictional portrayals of the Quangels, Fallada beautifully enlightens the misery of ordinary Germans who struggled from their own moral battles. Like, Eva Kungel who curses the fact of her birthing children who would eventually end up becoming monsters. The investigation of the Hobgoblin case and the defenselessness of Inspector Escherich expose the disintegration of humanness in a society where the nobleness of a feeble endeavor to capture terror was misplaced.

Otto Quangel was the burning conscience of a guilt –ridden nation. He and Anna were among the few whom were “good corns” sown in the fields of weeds. Fallada signs off the book saying, “But we don’t want to end this book with death; dedicated as it is to life, life always triumphs over humiliation and tears, over misery and death”.

Otto and Anna’s death was inevitable and their efforts although ineffectual were not insignificant. The Quangels did the unattainable and unfortunately their voices were lost among timid tones and pigheaded establishment, contrasting Wael Ghonim the cyber hero whose efforts instigated a revolution finally overthrowing Hosni Mubarak from supremacy.

4/5****

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