The third and final volume of the diaries of Victor Klemperer, a Jew in Dresden who survived the war and whose diaries have been hailed as one of the 20th century’s most important chronicles.
This volume opens in June 1945. The immediate postwar period produces many shocks and revelations – some people have behaved better than Klemperer had believed, others much worse. His sharp observations are now turned on the East German Communist Party, which he himself joins, and he notes many similarities between Nazi and Communist behaviour. Politics, he comes to believe, is above all the choice of the “lesser evil”. He is made a professor in Greifswald, then in Berlin and Halle. His wife Eva dies in 1951 but within a year at the age of 70 he marries one of his students, an unlikely but successful love-match. He serves in the GDR’s People’s Chamber and represents East German scholarship abroad. But it is the details of everyday life, and the honesty and directness, that make these diaries so fascinating.
‘Klemperer was a shrewd judge of human nature and unsparing of his own. As a diarist he is in the Pepys class…’ (Norman Lebrecht, Spectator)