Nightmare in Berlin by Hans Fallada review – brutal study of postwar Berlin

Hans Fallada’s depiction of Germany in 1945 exposes the hardships of a couple’s life ‘in the most despised nation on earth’

It is 1945 and the war is over yet the Dolls’ lives are still run by fear. While, elsewhere, people are celebrating peace, for Germans the future is uncertain. The Dolls “[now] belonged to the most hated and despised nation on earth”. Struggling with feelings of guilt about their complicity during the war, they succumb to a life of inertia, apathy and – when they return to Berlin from a small town occupied by the Red Army – drug addiction. There is little by way of reprieve; the mood never lightens and Dr Doll’s depression rarely lifts. However, there is lightness to be found in Hans Fallada’s descriptions (a Nazi “sat on his hoard like a malevolent little hamster”) which, sensitively translated by Allan Blunden, make the book enjoyable. Nightmare in Berlin is an unfalteringly honest and often terrifying insight into the difficulties faced and inner conflicts fought by Germans after the war.

Nightmare in Berlin is published by Scribe (£15.99). Click here to buy it for £13.11


Claire Kohda Hazelton

The GuardianTramp

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