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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1933-1941 Paperback – November 15, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"One of the great testimonies of our century. . . . Klemperer's ability to grasp moods and attitudes has a truly Dickensian quality."   --Los Angeles Times

"What has been called one of the most remarkable documents to come out of the Second World War turns out to be one of the most compulsively readable books of the year."        --The San Diego Union Tribune

"For the next generation of historians, Klemperer's diaries will be required reading."  --Gordon Craig, The New York Review of Books

"To read his almost day-by-day account is a hypnotic experience; the whole, hard to put down, is a true murder mystery--from the perspective of the victim."--Peter Gay, The New York Times Book Review

From the Inside Flap

The publication of Victor Klemperer's secret diaries brings to light one of the most extraordinary documents of the Nazi period. "In its cool, lucid style and power of observation," said The New York Times, "it is the best written, most evocative, most observant record of daily life in the Third Reich." I Will Bear Witness is a work of literature as well as a revelation of the day-by-day horror of the Nazi years.
A Dresden Jew, a veteran of World War I, a man of letters and historian of great sophistication, Klemperer recognized the danger of Hitler as early as 1933. His diaries, written in secrecy, provide a vivid account of everyday life in Hitler's Germany.
What makes this book so remarkable, aside from its literary distinction, is Klemperer's preoccupation with the thoughts and actions of ordinary Germans: Berger the greengrocer, who was given Klemperer's house ("anti-Hitlerist, but of course pleased at the good exchange"), the fishmonger, the baker, the much-visited dentist. All offer their thoughts and theories on the progress of the war: Will England hold out? Who listens to Goebbels? How much longer will it last?
This symphony of voices is ordered by the brilliant, grumbling Klemperer, struggling to complete his work on eighteenth-century France while documenting the ever- tightening Nazi grip. He loses first his professorship and then his car, his phone, his house, even his typewriter, and is forced to move into a Jews' House (the last step before the camps), put his cat to death (Jews may not own pets), and suffer countless other indignities.
Despite the danger his diaries would pose if discovered, Klemperer sees it as his duty to recordevents. "I continue to write," he notes in 1941 after a terrifying run-in with the police. "This is my heroics. I want to bear witness, precise witness, until the very end." When a neighbor remarks that, in his isolation, Klemperer will not be able to cover the main events of the war, he writes: "It's not the big things that are important, but the everyday life of tyranny, which may be forgotten. A thousand mosquito bites are worse than a blow on the head. I observe, I note, the mosquito bites."

This book covers the years from 1933 to 1941. Volume Two, from 1941 to 1945, will be published in 1999.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; New edition edition (November 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375753788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375753787
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
You probably remember the old folk wisdom that a frog plunged into boiling water will hop out immediately, while a frog placed in cold water that is slowly heated will stay put even as it's boiled to death. The latter method was applied to Germany's Jews beginning in 1933, when Hitler became Chancellor and effectively ended the Weimar Republic overnight. Victor Klemperer, the irascible philologist who kept a diary for most of his adult life, is a most discerning frog. This volume of his diaries stretches from Hitler's ascent to power to the outbreak of World War II. During that time, Klemperer and his fellow Jews in Dresden saw their civil liberties slowly stripped away from them, along with their property and money.
What makes this such a fascinating read is Klemperer himself. By turns depressed, anxious and furious, this gentle, learned man discovers that his pride in being a true German is misplaced. Although Klemperer has converted to Christianity out of sincere solidarity with what he perceives as his true culture, this does nothing to make him anything but a Jew in the eyes of National Socialism. His shock at this discovery is soon matched by a determination to outlast his tormentors or, at least, avoid a terrible fate at their hands for as long as possible.
Why Germany fell prey to such atypical thuggery will remain a bone of contention for historians for centuries to come. But Victor Klemperer's diaries make it clear that, from the start, the Nazis intended to live down to their reputation. It is equally clear that, for Jew and Gentile alike, many Germans found themselves unable to fathom the evil of Hitler's regime until it was much too late.
Getting to know Klemperer through his diary is an enjoyable experience.
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Format: Paperback
If you like journals and diaries (and are a historical buff as well)you will be spell-bound by this book. Because there is so very much detail of Victor's day-to-day life, you are soon living with him as he documents his worries of money and losing the joys of his life - one by one -to the threshold of death. You dread what the next day will bring right along with him. It is a very human book showing all of Victor's foibles and irritating tendencies which are many. But you end up liking him anyway because he bears up under the horrors with spurts of courage and conviction and you know you could do no better, if as well. It is far too vivid in showing the truth of man's inhumanity to man to allow you to remain comfortable while reading it, but unlike many other books of that era, Victor's diaries are about the little things we live with and understand and constantly made me ask myself "would I have done the right thing in this or that circumstance." Because it is a two-part diary (the second half is just in the process of being published,I think), the worst was having it abruptly end! Having lived with Victor literally for so long I felt ripped apart from his life when the first book ended.
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Format: Paperback
Klemperer's diary provides an immediate, close-focus view of (in this volume) pre-war and (in the second) wartime Nazi Germany. He was a steady diarist, an intelligent, thinking man, and his dedication in maintaining his diary through months and years of deprivation and abuse was a profound gift to us all. After reading the facts concering Hitler's rise to power and its outcome, it is fascinating to see how these events were viewed by a German citizen and a Jew. Klemperer makes it clear that those with open eyes knew the evil of the Nazis from the first, so that claiming ignorance after the war is a poor excuse. On the other hand, he also shows how the Nazis consilidated their grip on power and played on the fears of the German people. I found it particularly interesting how successful the Nazis were at playing up the communist menace; how many times in Klemperer's diaries does someone state that the Nazis are tolerable because they are keeping out the communists, as though only those two choices were possible? It is the little tidbits such as this, the thoughts of the Germans, gentile and Jew, as they marched toward their doom, that makes Klemperer's diary so fascinating.
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By A Customer on October 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Do not buy the paperback version if you have any significant visual difficulties. The publisher has shamelessly used such light type and a miniscule typestyle that it's an absolutely excruciating task to read..
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This poignant book is quite unique. Written as a diary, and not intended to be published, Klemperer's book is like no other I have read in conveying the impact upon one couple of the Nazi's repressive regime. Virtually day after day, Klemperer recounts how he and his wife (who was not Jewish) bear the brunt of an endless array of irritating and debilitating Nazi policies. For example, he loses his teaching position; he is divested of his car; his house is "rented" to an Aryan; the couple is forced to move into and share a home with other Jewish individuals; his bank accounts are frozen; the couple's food and clothing rations are cut; and on and on in and endless procession of indignities. The human dimension of these repressive Nazi practices emerges with such startling force one simply is amazed that the couple surived at all. A moving and valuable addition to the literature of the period.
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