I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1933-1941
Author: Victor Klemperer
A Dresden Jew, a veteran of World War I, a man of letters, and a 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 18th-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), to put his cat to death (Jews may not own pets), and to suffer countless other indignities.