After the death of their son during the Nazi assault on France, a German couple launches their own private war against Hitler, leaving inflammatory postcards in public places around Berlin. The book is a grueling chronicle of what proved to be a relatively insignificant assault on the tyranny and brutality of the Third Reich, but it pays a magnificent tribute to the example of courage that can be demonstrated by ordinary people. Fallada's novel is based on an historical incident. — Alden Graves
“This is a tale written by a madman, about madmen and common folk in a time of terror, in a place of fear--and about those who resist their oppressors because in such situations someone must. Based on a true story, this bestseller from the '40s has, to our good fortune, resurfaced to take its rightful place beside The Reader and All Quiet on the Western Front as yet another great anti-war novel by a brilliant German author.”
— Bob Sommer, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ
“By turns horrifying and inspiring, Hans Fallada's story of an ordinary German couple defying the Nazi's inhumane brutality is authentic and informative -- an admirable addition to German literature.”
— Nancy Olson, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
This never-before-translated masterpiece—by a heroic best-selling writer who saw his life crumble when he wouldn’t join the Nazi Party—is based on a true story.
It presents a richly detailed portrait of life in Berlin under the Nazis and tells the sweeping saga of one working-class couple who decides to take a stand when their only son is killed at the front. With nothing but their grief and each other against the awesome power of the Reich, they launch a simple, clandestine resistance campaign that soon has an enraged Gestapo on their trail, and a world of terrified neighbors and cynical snitches ready to turn them in.
In the end, it’s more than an edge-of-your-seat thriller, more than a moving romance, even more than literature of the highest order—it’s a deeply stirring story of two people standing up for what’s right, and for each other.
This is a Hybrid Book.
Melville House HybridBooks combine print and digital media into an enhanced reading experience by including with each title additional curated material called Illuminations — maps, photographs, illustrations, and further writing about the author and the book. The Melville House Illuminations are free with the purchase of any title in the HybridBook series, no matter the format.
Learning the movie was made by a Jewish producer, however, Hitler decreed Fallada’s work could no longer be sold outside Germany, and the rising Nazis began to pay him closer attention. When he refused to join the Nazi party he was arrested by the Gestapo—who eventually released him, but thereafter regularly summoned him for “discussions” of his work.
However, unlike Mann, Hesse, and others, Fallada refused to flee to safety, even when his British publisher, George Putnam, sent a private boat to rescue him. The pressure took its toll on Fallada, and he resorted increasingly to drugs and alcohol for relief. After Goebbels ordered him to write an anti-Semitic novel, he snapped and found himself imprisoned in an asylum for the “criminally insane”—considered a death sentence under Nazi rule. To forestall the inevitable, he pretended to write the assignment for Goebbels, while actually composing three encrypted books—including his tour de force novel The Drinker—in such dense code that they were not deciphered until long after his death.
Fallada outlasted the Reich and was freed at war’s end. But he was a shattered man. To help him recover by putting him to work, Fallada’s publisher gave him the Gestapo file of a simple, working-class couple who had resisted the Nazis. Inspired, Fallada completed Every Man Dies Alone in just twenty-four days.
He died in February 1947, just weeks before the book’s publication.