Diary of a Man in Despair (New York Review Books Classics)
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Friedrich Reck might seem an unlikely rebel against Nazism. Not just a conservative but a rock-ribbed reactionary, he played the part of a landed gentleman, deplored democracy, and rejected the modern world outright. To Reck the Nazis were ruthless revolutionaries in Gothic drag, and helpless as he was to counter the spell they had cast on the German people, he felt compelled to record the corruptions of their rule. The result is less a diary than a sequence of stark and astonishing snapshots of life in Germany between 1936 and 1944. We see the Nazis at the peak of power, and the murderous panic with which they respond to approaching defeat; their travesty of traditional folkways in the name of the Volk; and the author’s own missed opportunity to shoot Hitler. This riveting book is not only, as Hannah Arendt proclaimed it, “one of the most important documents of the Hitler period” but a moving testament of a decent man struggling to do the right thing in a depraved world.
one’s brow? Will we still speak the same language when this is over? Will you, surrounded as you have been all these years by all the appurtenances of civilisation . . . grasp that the deathlike loneliness of our lives and the misery-laden air of the catacombs we have been breathing for so long have made our eyes terribly clear-sighted? May it not be, in the first moments after your return, that the visions these eyes can now see in the distance will frighten you? What about the world of ideas
boxing, and then by taking the matter to court—without the officers being suspended, and without the writer, Mary Borden, being able to give her bemused non-English readers so much as an inkling of what her two main characters might be like. Now, I am far from being an advocate of the well-known idiotic student bloodletting, but I cannot possibly ignore the fact that since 1918, and the official ban on duelling, there has come about a complete bolshevisation of all standards of honour, and that
the blacksmith came out to tell me the news: the pygmies to whom Germany’s fate is now linked have taken the leap, and at this very moment that power-drunk schizophrenic’s voice is crackling out of every loudspeaker. I pressed the man’s hand. For what will soon be seven years, he has suffered and hated as I have. I have no doubt that immeasurable suffering is coming, and that it could not be avoided. But I also have no doubt about the thing that has sustained me for six years, and maintained me
the Princess sought help from Herr Göring, he kept her waiting for two hours in an ante-room full of typists and SS louts. After the two-hour wait, the Royal Prussian Infantry Captain (retired) and model of a modern field marshal finally appeared, his hands in his pockets, chomping the inevitable cigar, and greeted the daughter-in-law of the victorious general at Metz as follows: ‘What is it you wanted?’ This is Herr Göring, champion of the modern version of enrichez-vous, and as such, the
the Nazi regime, mutilated beings involved in inconceivable crime. Again now I am alone. Far away, over that house and land I call home, there would be the last red flash of sunset; inside here, the clumping of boots as the food detail goes by. Strange how quickly a man is brought down to the lowest levels of preoccupation in prison through trying any trick to make life here easier. You learn to clean the malodorous corners of the cell without disgust, and to lie down on the insect-infested