Tuesday, May 03, 2011


I find it interesting that in this historic week when Osama Bin Laden was found and killed, I completed Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada about another manhunt. This one, which took place in Nazi Germany during WW II, was told from the standpoint of the hunted.

The charge in the book was not for killing a single individual, but rather for distributing hundreds of postcards containing anti-government messages. The book is based on the actual case of a couple (Otto and Elise Hampel) who did just that in wartime Berlin, keeping the Gestapo and the SS at bay for three years. It’s an interesting insight into the mindset of those who are hunted. It portrays the criminal process in wartime Germany as a total sham. I won’t say what happens in the end in case my fellow book club members are reading, but I will say it was a story with twists and turns and more brutality than I can normally manage to stomach.

In both the story and the today’s reality there is a finality. But instead of emphasizing the banality of evil as Bin Laden’s story does, Fallada’s novel emphasizes the banality of good.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The banality of good" -- hmmm! I haven't read the novel, and I'm curious what you mean by this phrase (although I can think of all sorts of things). Interesting to ponder!

As for Bin Laden, I basically think that the U.S. government has "put him out of our misery," and exacted some revenge closure re 9/11 for those who wanted him dead; but that essentially the overall "disease" progresses unchanged. From what I've read it seems that he'd become fairly irrelevant amongst his fellow terrorists. Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I don't feel celebrative about the killing of anyone, even a sick, calculating mass murderer. Very sobering all the way around. I pray that his death doesn't inspire even more recruits...


3:51 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

On my blog I just wrote a letter to the late Mr. Bin Laden - wondering what he would think about his life now.

That book you read, Jeder stirbt für sich allein, has only recently been translated into English and is now read by many. Especially in England "the Germans" during Nazi times have too long been considered as in agreement with what their government did. But as in every totalitarian regime, there is always a Secret State Police, and a lot of fear is raised to hold opposition down. From stories I got told I know there were many Germans during the war who did simple deeds of humanness (call it "the banality of good" if you will) (Or read "Not all were murderers" by Michael Degen, or the book by Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi, "Destined to Witness").
But if you did, you were always threatened to get killed.
What Mr. Bin Laden did was grown on his own feeling of superiority towards the "unbelieving immoral Westerners", much like Hitler`s ideas about the Jews. What I asked on my blog was, I wonder how he feels about his life NOW?

3:31 AM  

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