Sunday, May 08, 2011

Five best German views of the Second World War

Konrad Jarausch, a Lurcy Professor of ­European Civilization at the University of North Carolina and the editor of ­Reluctant Accomplice: A Wehrmacht Soldier's Letters From the Eastern Front, named a five best list of books about German views of World War II for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on his list:
I Will Bear Witness
by Victor Klemperer (1998, 2001)

Victor Klemperer was a well-known Jewish professor of Romance literature in Dresden before the ­outbreak of war. He survived in Nazi Germany only because he was married to a Protestant. From the beginning of the Nazi reign to its end, Klemperer recorded the events of his daily life in dry, unadorned detail. The truth leaps from the page. He never knows what to expect: One day, a storekeeper slips the Jew some extra rations; the next, a fellow passenger on a bus heaps abuse on him. He records an early ­decree banning Jews from driving ­because it "offends the German traffic community" for Jews to use "the Reich ­highways built by German workers' hands." On Sept. 19, 1941, Klemperer writes: "Today, the Jew's star. Frau Voss has already sewn it on, intends to turn her coat back over it." The Allied bombing of Dresden saves him from deportation—and he keeps on taking notes, filling two volumes of wartime memoirs astounding in their ­immediacy and power.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue