German Autumn

German Autumn

Stig Dagerman

Language: English

Pages: 128

ISBN: 0816677522

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In late 1946, Stig Dagerman was assigned by the Swedish newspaper Expressen to report on life in Germany immediately after the fall of the Third Reich. First published in Sweden in 1947, German Autumn, a collection of the articles written for that assignment, was unlike any other reporting at the time. While most Allied and foreign journalists spun their writing on the widely held belief that the German people deserved their fate, Dagerman disagreed and reported on the humanness of the men and women ruined by the war—their guilt and suffering. Dagerman was already a prominent writer in Sweden, but the publication and broad reception of German Autumn throughout Europe established him as a compassionate journalist and led to the long-standing international influence of the book.

Presented here in its first American edition with a compelling new foreword by Mark Kurlansky, Dagerman’s essays on the tragic aftermath of war, suffering, and guilt are as hauntingly relevant today amid current global conflict as they were sixty years ago.

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political experience. Of course he cannot have avoided noticing that his position is exposed, perilous even, to the extent that he becomes a medium for feelings that are fundamentally not in accordance with the political lines of his party. It would be naive to suppose that they are Social Democrats, those ten thousand in Konigsplatz who rejoice when Dr Schumacher apostrophizes 'the seven million absent comrades' (the POWs), when he dwells on the shameful Munich Agreement (a most effective thing

tattered refugee children from the eastern zone or from Sudetenland. Children in villages get up late in the mornings, trying to cheat the stomach into sleeping past a meal they cannot have. If one shows them a picture-book they will unfailingly begin to consult each other as to how they can best beat to 94 death the human figures or the animals shown on the pages. Small boys who have been twice bombed out of home, who can scarcely yet speak properly, pronounce the word itotschlagen> with

poet and translator who has lived in Norway since 1973. He has translated the work of several Swedish poets.

but hunger has nothing to do with morality. l Erst kommt das Fressen, dann die Moral . . .' The Threepenny Opera was staged in various places in Germany during this autumn and was met with enthusiasm, but with a different kind of enthusiasm from before: what had been seething social criticism, a pungent open letter calling for social responsibility, was transformed into a celebration of social irresponsibility. War is an equally inept teacher. When one tried to quizz the cellar-German on what the

autumn there were elections in various places in Germany. Participation was perhaps surprisingly active but political activity limited itself to voting. And the situation was such that conclusions based on the outcome had to be drawn with the greatest care. A Social Democratic victory and a Communist defeat - two clear facts but far from being as clear as they would be in a normal society. The Social Democratic election propaganda engaged itself strongly with foreign affairs, meaning the Soviet

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