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Diary of a Man in Despair

de Friedrich Reck

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357672,146 (4.15)13
Friedrich Reck might seem an unlikely rebel against Nazism. Not just a conservative but a rock-ribbed reactionary, he played the part of a landed gentleman, deplored democracy, and rejected the modern world outright. To Reck the Nazis were ruthless revolutionaries in Gothic drag, and helpless as he was to counter the spell they had cast on the German people, he felt compelled to record the corruptions of their rule. The result is less a diary than a sequence of stark and astonishing snapshots of life in Germany between 1936 and 1944. We see the Nazis at the peak of power, and the murderous panic with which they respond to approaching defeat; their travesty of traditional folkways in the name of the Volk; and the author's own missed opportunity to shoot Hitler. This riveting book is not only, as Hannah Arendt proclaimed it, "one of the most important documents of the Hitler period" but a moving testament of a decent man struggling to do the right thing in a depraved world.… (més)
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Apparently, there is some disagreement about how 'authentic' Reck's diary is. For instance, he talks like a south-German gentleman, but was actually Prussian. Researchers who care about these things say that he lies a lot. This might dampen your reading experience, but not mine: I don't care if Reck's Diary is false, or a persona, or a character, because the speaker in these diaries is one of the most entertaining, enlightening characters I've ever come across in fiction. Whatever else Reck did or was, he certainly lived through Nazi Germany, very nearly to the end, only to end up in Dachau, where he died.

He acts like an old nobleman... but one who is generally kind to the proletariat and the peasantry, and reserves his scorn and hatred for the bourgeoisie and other nobles (at a time when these words still meant something). He's a reader of Spengler, and acts at times like a genuine pessimist... but a pessimist who has great hopes for the future, in which the vulgarity, cruelty, barbarity and injustice of the present may be overcome. Most of all, he depicts himself as an extraordinarily kind man, willing to use his (I assume) gravity and bearing in defense of the victims of petty arrogance, but at the same time harbors an incredible hatred.

DMD is one of the best books I've read recently thanks to these two things: the qualities of its probably half fictional narrator, and the openness with which he hates everything that deserves hatred--Nazis, of course, but everything they stand for. Vulgarity, pettiness, barbarity, stupidity, irrationality, self-interest, gullibility (whether conscious or not). Reck's narrator scorns everything that deserves scorn, and any book that reminds us of that is worth reading. That you get the scorn, and the narrator. And above all you get the incredible sensation--like seeing a Greek tragedy--of reading about Nazi Germany while knowing what's going to happen (i.e., Reck's hopes for the defeat of the Nazis will be fulfilled, but he won't live to see the future).

A clearer head could probably criticize this book heartily; Reck obviously lives in a fantasy world that is part medieval and part modern. But I forgot that while I was reading. Recommended for all.

"A storm is coming up over the heads of a people blindly drunk with victory, and the man who sees it is alone today in Germany... of all the things that have ever been asked of life, just on remains: that in the hour of martyrdom, which our epoch requires of any man not part of the mass, a man be able to bring forth out f himself the strength that comes from having kept faith with the truth.
Surely, all human wishes, provided only that they are big enough, must come to fulfillment?" [129]. ( )
1 vota stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
I'm not capable of writing a review that would do this justice, so I'll just say this: I highlighted like mad and can't stop thinking about what I've read. Reck's words are prophetic, insightful, engaging, disturbing, unforgettable and timely. His diary ought to be required reading in universities across the globe to serve as a warning against the blind hero-worship of political leaders that makes it possible for immoral aberrations like Hitler to become men of power. Yes, they can eventually be stopped, but only after so much blood and bone become grist to the mill. Some wrongs can never be made right. Better to be a martyr than a cog in the wheel of evil. ( )
  MadMaudie | Sep 5, 2020 |
Un cri, un long cri salutaire. Un témoignage à découvrir absolument. ( )
  Nikoz | Mar 23, 2019 |
Den skarpeste, mest ubønhørlig skånselsløse skildring af Nazi-Tysklands usselhed, jeg har set nogen steder:

[Oswald Spebgler] war wirklich der humorloseste Mensch, der mir je begegnet ist.; er könnte in dieser Hinsicht nur überboten werden durch Herrn Hitler und den Nazismus, der ja alle Aussicht hat, an beidem zu sterben: an seiner penetranten Humorlosigkeit sowohl wie an der Langeweile des öffentlichen Lebens... men Spengler afskyede nazismen og var en betydende humanist.

Han træffer Hitler igen, hvor han sidder alene i en restaurant, ... Ja, dort saß er, ein rohkostessender Dschingis-Khan, ein abstinenter Alexander, ein Napoleon ohne Weiber ...

Dieses Volk ist geisteskrank. Es wird teuer bezahlen. ... ( )
  kaatmann | Nov 26, 2018 |
If this wasn't a diary, I would give it a five. One of the back cover reviews used the word "stunning", and I agree. I couldn't believe that this guy, with so much to lose, felt and wrote as he did. I was thinking more than once that the predictions or fears for the future were so close to what eventually played out that the book had to have been written long after when it actually was in order to get so much right.

I read that Reck fabricated some and puffed himself up a bit, but that doesn't detract from the story. ( )
1 vota ebethe | Oct 30, 2013 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 6 (següent | mostra-les totes)

» Afegeix-hi altres autors (7 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Friedrich Reckautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Dauzat, Pierre-EmmanuelTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Dauzat, Pierre-EmmanuelPrefaciautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Evans, Richard J.Epílegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Gabey, ÉlieTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Rubens, PaulTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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(Préface)

« Il n’est pas un témoignage de culture qui ne soit en même temps un témoignage de barbarie. »
Walter Benjamin, Sur le concept d’histoire (1940)
(Préface)

« Il était plus commode de fuir vers la civilisation que de demeurer dans cet avant-poste plein de dangers, que de rester dans la barbarie pour affronter l’illégalité. »
Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen, septembre 1937
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Friedrich Reck might seem an unlikely rebel against Nazism. Not just a conservative but a rock-ribbed reactionary, he played the part of a landed gentleman, deplored democracy, and rejected the modern world outright. To Reck the Nazis were ruthless revolutionaries in Gothic drag, and helpless as he was to counter the spell they had cast on the German people, he felt compelled to record the corruptions of their rule. The result is less a diary than a sequence of stark and astonishing snapshots of life in Germany between 1936 and 1944. We see the Nazis at the peak of power, and the murderous panic with which they respond to approaching defeat; their travesty of traditional folkways in the name of the Volk; and the author's own missed opportunity to shoot Hitler. This riveting book is not only, as Hannah Arendt proclaimed it, "one of the most important documents of the Hitler period" but a moving testament of a decent man struggling to do the right thing in a depraved world.

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