A Diary of the Nazi Years


After a Gestapo raid on May 27, 1942, Victor Klemperer wrote in his diary that the journal’s discovery “undoubtedly” would have meant death. “But,” the journalist and scholar vowed, “I shall go on writing. That is my heroism. I will bear witness, precise witness.” The surviving volumes—a 1st-person account spanning the entire Nazi era—are unique, invaluable pieces of Holocaust documentation.

Seven years before that raid, Klemperer had been stripped of his position at Dresden Technical University. For though his conversion to his wife Eva’s Protestantism spared him deportation,  it did not protect him from the Nuremberg Laws.

The 1942 raid took place in the Klemperers’ rooms in a segregated building called the “Jews’ House.” It was there that he recorded hunger and fear, as well as tedious factory work, a jail sentence, friends’ disappearances, and all manner of indignities.

Though his spirit at times flags, his will to live—and ultimately, to write—never deserts him. The reader is swept along as his story unfolds—all the way to Upper Bavaria, to which he and Eva eventually flee, and back to Dresden, on foot, at war’s end.

These diaries are masterful, essential reading for anyone with an interest in the Nazi years and the human spirit.

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