DIARIES OF VICTOR KLEMPERER

The Lesser Evil, 1945-1959

The secondary title supposedly refers to the comparison of Nazism to Communism. The author’s well-known, excellent World War Two diaries set in Dresden where he was living are compelling and dramatic. Therein, Klemperer is less an academic and less intellectual and more human and communicative.

This single volume of his last 14 years of life seem academic with pretense to intellectualism. He is a professor but not set to one location. The writing is onerous and much less clear; he seems confused and conflicted as a diarist. Why did the Chicken cross the road? Should I also cross the road? Will the chicken be there if I cross the road after it does? is If the chicken becomes road kill should I consume the remainder?

Much was goofed up in Germany after World War Two. The Americans Army fed itself well. It organized much in its sector using non-Nazi Germans and German Jews. But Klemperer has few good impressions to report about the Soviets, except they are not Nazis.

I read until I got to one repeated point: Social pressures to join this organization or another group to support the establishment seemed like high school. Klemperer reacts and joins, if he can go 10 or 20 miles, to meetings. Be part of the influential class, the in-group and popular and be comfortable. Early on he isn’t at ease; his diet is monotonous; it’s hard to visit friends, if they can be found; there is no work for him, although he is recognized as an authority in his field.

I did not need to read another 500 pages of this East German Storm and Trag, not well-expressed and always relying on some remote big-wig’s good will who might drive Klemperer to an event one evening yet by the next week be arrested to put into prison.

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