The second volume of the diaries of Victor Klemperer, a Jew in Dresden who survived the war and whose diaries between 1933 and 1945 have been hailed as one of the most important chronicles of Nazi Germany ever published.
A publishing sensation in Germany (where they have sold over 100,000 copies at GBP45), the publication of Victor Klemperer's diaries brings to light one of the most extraordinary documents of the Nazi period. The son of a rabbi, Klemperer was by 1933 a professor of languages in Dresden. Over the next decade he, like other German Jews, lost his job, his house and many of his friends, even his cat, as Jews were not allowed to own pets. He remained loyal to his country, determined not to emigrate, and convinced that each successive Nazi act against the Jews must be the last.
Saved for much of the war from the Holocaust by his marriage to a gentile, he was able to escape in the aftermath of the Allied bombing of Dresden and survived the remaining months of the war in hiding. Throughout, Klemperer kept a diary, for a Jew in Nazi Germany a daring act in itself. Shocking and moving by turns, it is a remarkable and important document, as powerful and astonishing in its way as Anne Frank's classic.
The second volume of two, this covers the period from the beginnings of the Holocaust to the end of the war, telling the story of Klemperer's increasing isolation, his near miraculous survival, his awareness of the development of the growing Holocaust as friends and associates disappeared, and his narrow escapes from deportation and the Dresden firebombing in 1945.
The author's cousin, the famous conductor, hardly appears in this excellent, harrowing account of how the Nazis treated a distinguished intellectual who happened to be a Jew. Klemperer, professor of romance languages in Dresden before they seized power, was deprived in turn of his students, his job, his car, his flat, his typewriter, his cat; he only survived because his wife - who survived with him - happened to be German. He managed to keep a diary through all his persecutions; and describes how, after the great raid on Dresden, they simply fled in the general confusion to the countryside, and found friends who hid them till the war was done. The nastiness of life under a dictatorship is depressingly well told. (Kirkus UK)