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I Will Bear Witness 1942-1945: A Diary of the Nazi Years Paperback – April 3, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Unparalleled... rare, illuminating, and priceless."
- The New York Times

From the Inside Flap

Destined to take its place alongside The Diary of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel's Night as one of the great classics of the Holocaust, I Will Bear Witness is a timeless work of literature, the most eloquent and acute testament to have emerged from Hitler's Germany. Volume Two begins in 1942, the year the Final Solution was formally proposed, and carries us through to the Allied bombing of Dresden and Germany's defeat.
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Paperbacks (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (April 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375756973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375756979
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Sharon King on March 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
Because my friends all know what a book-hound I am, people often ask me what my all-time favorite book is. Admittedly the answer to this would change over time, but, at present, "I Will Bear Witness" is the one that first pops into my mind.

I found this very personal account of the days and nights of a German Jewish man--an inoffensive and formerly rather conservative German nationalist academic married to a Gentile--during the Nazi terror regime to be absolutely breathtaking. Indeed, I was so caught up in his account that I took an unexpected day of vacation from work just to not interrupt my reading once I had started.

Further, I found myself sprawled on my bed, as is sometimes customary with me, surrounded by ancillary books, atlases, and maps --a behavior that signifies I'm reading a book that has utterly gripped me and a book that is expanding my horizons.

Klemperer was (just barely) saved from being sent to a concentration camp due to his marriage to a non-Jew. However, he lived every day under the threat of torture and deportation to a camp and his journal tells of the years of grinding anxiety over his fate and the fate of his wife, friends, and relatives-many of whom were taken. It also speaks to the minutiae of life under the Nazi's--such things as their penchant for legalisms to justify their treatment of the Jews embodied in his incessant embroilment in Nazi demands that he take part in the legalisms of their confiscation of his property. Moreover, as the war draws to a close, he draws a stunning portrait of life as a war refugee--a picture that applies to war refugees the world over throughout time.

Kudos to those who elevated this book to number one among the history choices-it deserves it and in my mind deserves even more.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn L. Zaremba on January 30, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Victor Klemperer's diary of the years of the Hitler dictatorship and his recording of the day-to-day lives of the Jews of Dresden, his thoughtful and insightful commentary on the methods (particularly the language of the propaganda) of the Third Reich, the heart-wrenching stories of those who were taken away never to be seen again, his experience in the firebombing of Dresden in 1945 and his miraculous journey home should be required reading for everyone about the horrors of tyranny and war. It is also a tribute to the true human spirit and the power of the intellect. Klemperer never lost his determination to live, despite all the blows of terror that were aimed at him, his family, and his friends. That he believed there was something to live for--in the midst of utter barbarity--should inspire all of us to work for a better world. It did me.

A remarkable record of a dark time. Reading it gives one the courage to carry on in the dark times that have come again.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 8, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
And I will get the other years of this author's diary. This is not a fast paced WWII battle book; this is the diary of a poor soul who had to live through every moment of a terrible regime, to endure even more when he thought he'd reached his limit. If you're interested in what it was like to live day to day in Hitler's Germany (as a Jew or a gentile)--to understand what it was like to watch it begin and grow and eventually implode--this is an excellent read. I would say it is for those deeply interested in the psychology of the times; not a passing interest. I'll get the other books and read them in order of the years they cover. I really want to understand how the Third Reich could ever BE.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Peter Shilpot Freeman on September 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Is 'extraordinary' a powerful enough word for this book?
On reading it, I almost couldn't believe that it was genuine...but no writer of fiction could have created something as extraordinary,(I've used the word again,) as this.
Klemperer was a Jew, who managed to survive the war living within Nazi Germany because he was married to a Christian woman & 'luckily' for us, he wrote EVERYTHING down. Every. Tiny. Detail.
A superbly intelligent & witty man. Sometimes these kinds of books are just fascinating as eye-witness accounts, but what's unusual about this, is the fact that this man could actually write AND SO well.
SO sad & frustrating that it wasn't published within his lifetime.
I can't say any more. I'll never be able to say enough.
Probably the most extraordinary eye-witness account about life in Nazi Germany available...NO!...that will EVER be available.
Definetely the most extraordinary, (yes, it IS the right word,) book I've personally EVER read.
I'm honoured in being able to recommend this to you.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bill Stevenson on March 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Victor Klemperer's diaries are essential reading for any serious student of the Third Reich. His achievement is extraordinay on every level. Even though he was victimized, he maintained a studious detachment and even after twelve years of persecution, could see the Nazi leaders in a clear and objective light. At no time did he underestimate their intelligence, or their effectiveness at controlling the German people. His voice holds the reader in thrall as he repeatedly describes the capability of Hitler and Goebbels, in particular, to manipulate and distort events to their own advantage. Nowhere is the Nazi regime's effective use of power more clearly described than it is in these pages.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Klemperer's observations is that he held what we now call the Goldhagen debate within his own mind. Was antisemitism a deeply embedded and inseparable part of the German people, or not? He described acts of kindness and acts of discrimination and brutality in counterpoint over and over again. In the end, he did not form a final conclusion himself on this issue.
There has been much ink spilled on the Gestapo. How effective and how pervasive was this force in institutionalized and systemic terror activities? Klemperer's detailed and careful observations over a period of years provides an insight that transcends any other. He describes not only his own mounting sense of terror at Gestapo tactics, but dispassionately describes the impact on his friends and neighbors, most of whom did not survive the experience. To the question: How much did ordinary Germans know or guess about the extermination activities in the concentration camps? Klemperer's diaries leave no doubt at all that everyone knew.
Klemperer was a learned professor.
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I Will Bear Witness 1942-1945: A Diary of the Nazi Years
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