More Lives Than One: a Biography of Hans Fallada

More Lives Than One: a Biography of Hans Fallada

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0241952670

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Hans Fallada was a drug addict, womanizer, alcoholic, jailbird and thief. Yet he was also one of the most extraordinary storytellers of the twentieth century, whose novels, including Alone in Berlin, portrayed ordinary people in terrible times with a powerful humanity. This acclaimed biography, newly revised and completely updated, tells the remarkable story of Hans Fallada, whose real name was Rudolf Ditzen. Jenny Williams chronicles his turbulent life as a writer, husband and father, shadowed by mental torment and long periods in psychiatric care. She shows how Ditzen's decision to remain in Nazi Germany in 1939 led to his self-destruction, but also made him a unique witness to his country's turmoil. More Lives Than One unpicks the contradictory, flawed and fascinating life of a writer who saw the worst of humanity, yet maintained his belief in the decency of the 'little man'.

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defeats on the Eastern Front, which culminated in the surrender at Stalingrad, led the Nazi regime to redouble the war effort at home, by proclaiming ‘total war’. All men between the ages of sixteen and sixty-five not already involved in the war effort were to be drafted into the munitions industry. This prospect plunged Ditzen into a deep depression and, at the end of January 1943, he was admitted to the Kuranstalt Westend in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, a clinic run by Professor Zutt,

I was glad.’ This statement applies equally to both Rudolf Ditzen’s life and the one which Hans Fallada constructs for himself in his memoirs. Rudolf continued to be plagued by headaches in Mariensee, and Dr Eggebrecht recommended a sanatorium in Berka not far from Weimar. Elisabeth Ditzen persuaded her son to take the doctor’s advice, and she accompanied him there in April. When they arrived in Berka, Rudolf, realizing that he was in a psychiatric clinic, became very angry and accused his

psychiatric hospital in Jena for a period of observation. On arrival he was uncommunicative and seemed resigned to a prison sentence, comparing his situation with that of Oscar Wilde in Reading Gaol. In some ways, a prison sentence was not unwelcome, for he thought it would allow him to escape from a society which he had rejected, a world which had no place for him. His Tante Ada, who had accompanied him to Jena, visited him frequently in hospital, and her visits often included French and English

persuade him to sleep through the night? From the beginning, Ditzen himself was closely involved in his son’s upbringing and took enormous delight in Uli’s progress. It was not until 31 March that he was able to concentrate on his novel again. By then, Germany had ceased to be a working democracy. When the cabinet had refused to sanction Chancellor Müller’s proposed increases in social insurance contributions on 27 March, the government collapsed and President Hindenburg invoked Article 48 of

1938, they became the proud owners of an eight-cylinder Ford. However, before Suse could take her driving test she was admitted to hospital with a serious attack of angina. The stresses and strains of the previous months had left her exhausted; her doctors therefore recommended a long course of treatment in a southern German spa. The day after Suse entered hospital, the German army marched into Austria, which was soon declared a province of the German Reich. Ditzen spent that weekend visiting

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