Until ten years ago Hans Fallada was a forgotten German novelist who had a moderately successful career until the rise of the Nazis. When he died in a sanatorium in 1947, Fallada was struggling with a long term addiction to opiates and alcohol, and was barely making a living as a freelance writer. Fallada died of heart failure just weeks before the release of his masterwork Every Man Dies Alone. This haunting novel is about a German couple who defy the Nazi regime by distributing anti-Hitler postcards around Berlin .The fictional husband and wife were based on real-life working-class Berliners Otto and Elise Hampel who were executed for circulating anti-Nazi flyers.
Fallada, and his greatest book, were virtually unknown outside of Germany until the American publisher Melville House released an English language edition in 2009. It is a moving story of resistance to tyranny that has added resonance in this era of resurgent Fascism and authoritarian government. But, it is also a moving story of parental love and sacrifice in the face of grief and loss.
If you haven’t discovered Hans Fallada, this ten year anniversary is a good time to seek out his books beginning with Every Man Dies Alone.