Hans Fallada

{EN} Every Man Dies Alone – Hans Fallada

1. „Old proverb: “A good conscience is a soft pillow.”

2. „Quangel admitted to himself that he never loved the boy the way a father is supposed to love his son. From the time Ottochen was born, he had never seen anything in him but a nuisance and a distraction in his relationship with Anna. If he felt grief now, it was because he was thinking worriedly about Anna, how she would take the loss, what would now change between them. He had the first instance of that already: “You and your Führer.”

3. „But foreman Quangel liked equality and fair-dealing. To him a human being was a human being, whether he was in the Party or not.

4. „“Say, Quangel, how can you talk like that? You know I can get you put in a concentration camp for defeatist muttering like that? What you said is a direct contradiction of what the Führer says himself! What if I was someone like that, and went and denounced you…?”

5. „“We can do plenty!” she whispers. “We can vandalize the machines, we can work badly, work slowly, we can tear down their posters and put up others where we tell people the truth about how they are being cheated and lied to.” She drops her voice further: “But the main thing is that we remain different from them, that we never allow ourselves to be made into them, or start thinking as they do. Even if they conquer the whole world, we must refuse to become Nazis.”

6. „What’s the point of her life, why has she had children, taken pleasure in their smiling and playing, when in the end they just become monsters? Oh, Karlemann, what a sweet blond boy he was!

7. „She’ll make one last attempt with her younger son, with Max. Max was always the colorless one, more like his father than his dazzling brother. Perhaps she can win Max over. And if not, then never mind, she’ll live by and for herself. But she will keep her self-respect. Then that will have been her attainment in life, keeping her self-respect. Tomorrow morning she will try to find out how to go about leaving the Party without getting stuck in a concentration camp. It will be difficult, but maybe she’ll manage it. And if there’s no other way of doing it, then she’ll go to the concentration camp. That would be a bit of atonement for what Karlemann has done.

8. „But it is no longer the old Quangel standing there. He can sense it, he knows it, he has outfoxed them all. Maybe he did it in an ugly way, by capitalizing on the death of his son, but where does it say you have to play fair with those monsters? No, he says to himself, almost aloud. No, Quangel, you’ll never be the same again. I’m curious what Anna’ll have to say to all this.

9. „“All things considered,” Borkhausen begins, “life is really pretty good. All these nice things here,” he gestures at them, “and we can take our pick of the lot, plus we’re doing a good deed because we’re taking them off a Jewish woman who only stole them in the first place…” “You’re right there, Emil—we’re doing a good deed for the German nation and our Führer. These are the good times he has promised us.”

10. “I don’t want any funny business, and above all I don’t want to be dragged into other people’s funny business. If it’s to be my head on the block, I want to know what it’s doing there, and not that it’s some stupid things that other people have done. I’m not saying that I’m going to do anything. But if I do anything, I’ll only do it alone with you, and with no one else involved, even if it’s a sweet girl like Trudel or an old, unprotected woman like you, Frau Rosenthal. I’m not saying my way is the right way. But there’s no other way for me. It’s how I am, and I’m not going to change.

11. „“Over the next few days, you will be very much alone with yourself and your thoughts, Frau Rosenthal. Try to accustom yourself to it. Solitude can be a very good thing. And don’t forget: every single survivor is important, including you, you most of all!

12. *Jewish women were forced to change their names to Sara by the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 (also known as the Nuremberg Racial Purity Laws); Jewish men were forced to call themselves Israel.

13. „Whatever she does, she will do alone. She doesn’t want to involve any other person in it. She won’t tell her sister and brother-in-law anything either. She will live alone, as never before. So far there has always been someone for her to look after: parents, husband, children. Now she’s alone. At this moment it strikes her as very likely that she will enjoy the condition. Perhaps when she’s all alone she will amount to more: she’ll have some time to herself, and won’t need to put herself last, after all the others.

14. „Quangel takes the tram back in the direction of his home, but he goes past his own stop. Better safe than sorry, and if he still has someone tailing him, he wants to confront him alone and not drag him back home. Anna is in no condition to cope with a disagreeable surprise. He needs to talk to her first. Of course he will do that: Anna has a big part to play in the thing that he is planning. But he has other business to take care of first. Tomorrow is Sunday, and everything has to be ready.

15. „That was it: death in the punishment battalion, death in a concentration camp, death in a prison yard, those were the outcomes that daily threatened him, that he had to try and keep at bay.

16. „Anna Quangel is once again firmly convinced not only that she has to stick it out with this man, but that her obstinacy was wrong in the first place. She ought to have known him better: he always preferred silence to speech. She always had to encourage him to speak—the man would never say anything of his own free will.

17. „And what was he proposing? Nothing at all, something so ridiculously small, something absolutely in his character, something discreet, out of the way, something that wouldn’t interfere with his peace and quiet. Postcards with slogans against the Führer and the Party, against the war, for the information of his fellow men, that was all. And these cards he wasn’t going to send to particular individuals, or stick on walls like placards, no, he wanted to leave them lying in the stairwells of widely visited buildings, leave them to their fate, without any control over who picked them up, where they might be trampled underfoot, torn up… Everything in her rebelled against this obscure and ignoble form of warfare. She wanted to be active, to do something with results she could see!

18. „‘Mother! The Führer has murdered my son.

19. „And she, too, has become patient. She is beginning to adjust to the idea that this will be a long war. She is calm now; Otto has considered everything; Otto is dependable, come what may. The thought he has given to everything! The first postcard in the war that was started by the death of their son is rightly about him. Once, they had a son; the Führer murdered him; now they are writing postcards. A new chapter in their lives. On the outside, nothing has changed. All is quiet around the Quangels. But inside, everything is different, they are at war…

20. „“The second sentence: ‘Mother! The Führer will murder your sons too, he will not stop till he has brought sorrow to every home in the world.’”

21. „They are both silent, dazzled by their prospects. What were they, previously? Obscure characters, extras. And now to see them alone, exalted, separate from the others, not to be confused with any of them. They feel a shiver; that’s how alone they are.

22. „“It’s because people have got in the habit of thinking. They have the idea that thinking will help them.” “They need to do as they’re told. The Führer can do their thinking for them.”

23. „For instance, I don’t think this man, here,” he taps his knuckle against the card, “is afraid. My hunch is for our second possibility: he will go on writing. Let him; the more he writes, the more he gives himself away. So far, he’s only given away a tiny bit about himself, that he’s lost a son. But with each card, he’ll give away a little bit more of himself to me. I don’t even need to do anything. I just need to sit here, stay alert, and one day—bingo—he’s mine! In our department we just need to be patient. Sometimes it takes a year, sometimes even a bit more, but in the end we get our man. Almost always.”

24. „They did their work in the most harmonious togetherness, and this deep, inner togetherness that they had only discovered now, after long years of marriage, became a great source of happiness to them, spreading its glow across their weeks. They saw each other, so to speak, with a single glance, they smiled, each knowing that the other had just thought about their next card, or the effect of their cards, of the steadily increasing number of their followers, and of the public that was already impatiently waiting.

25. „There were now forty-four such flags on the map; of the forty-eight postcards that the Quangels had written and dropped in those six months, all but four were now in the hands of the Gestapo.

26. „“No, it’s not that either, Obergruppenführer. That’s one of the points I’m absolutely certain of. My Hobgoblin is a widower, or a man who lives by himself. If there was a woman anywhere involved, there’d have been some loose talk, I’m sure of that. Six months—no woman can keep a secret for that length of time!”

27. „Say what right do I have to any personal happiness while there’s room for such unhappiness on this earth!

28. „“My happiness doesn’t cost anyone else a thing.” “But it does! You’re stealing it! You’re robbing mothers of their sons, wives of their husbands, girlfriends of their boyfriends, as long as you tolerate thousands being shot every day and don’t lift a finger to stop the killing. You know all that perfectly well, and it strikes me that you’re almost worse than real dyed-in-the-wool Nazis. They’re too stupid to know what crimes they’re committing. But you do, and you don’t do anything against it! Aren’t you worse than the Nazis? Of course you are!”

29. „Or do you want us to stop?” “No!” she exclaimed. “No, I couldn’t go two weeks without our postcards! What are we living for? Those cards are our life!” He smiled grimly, and looked at her with a grim pride. “You see, Anna,” he said then. “That’s the way I like you. We aren’t afraid. We know what the risks are, and we’re ready, ready any-time—but with luck it’ll happen a long way down the road.” “No,” she said. “I always think it will never happen. We will survive the war, survive the Nazis, and then…”

30. „“No, Anna,” he said, “that’s not the way I meant. Danger’s not on the doorstep, and not in the writing part. Danger is somewhere else, but I can’t think where. We’ll wake up one day and know it was always there, but we never saw it. And then it’ll be too late.” […] “As soon as they’ve arrested us, we’ll be separated, Anna. We might see each other two or three times more, at the interrogation, at the trial, maybe for the last time half an hour before the execution…” “No! No! No!” she screamed. “I don’t want you to talk about it. We’ll get through, Otto, we have to!” […] “And what if we don’t make it? Would you regret anything? Would you like any of what we’ve done to have remained undone?” “No, nothing! But we’ll get through undiscovered, Otto, I feel it!” “You see, Anna,” he said, without responding to her latest assertion. “That’s what I wanted to hear. We will never regret anything. We will stand by what we’ve done, no matter how they torture us.” […] Because you must know, we’ll be very much alone in our cells, without a word to each other, we who haven’t been apart for one single day in twenty years and more. It will be very difficult. But we can be sure the other won’t weaken, that we can depend on each other, in death as in life. We will have to die alone too, Anna.”

31. „There’s one thing still keeping Inspector Escherich going, and that’s the thought of the Hobgoblin. He’s got to catch him; he doesn’t care what happens afterward. He has to look this man in the eye; he has to talk to this man who has been the cause of his downfall. He wants to tell that fanatic to his face what panic, ruin, and hardship he has brought to so many people. He wants to crush him, his secret enemy.

32. „Quangel stares at him. So fear is the answer, nothing but fear. The man didn’t even read to the end of the card; he barely got past the first line before being overwhelmed by fear.

33. „His first duty was to get the man to betray some of that inner sharpness. He wanted to talk to the clever author of the postcards, not this ancient foreman, grown dull from decades of labor.

34. „“And consider this as well, Herr Quangel,” the Inspector continued, taking full advantage of the other’s shock, “all these letters and cards were freely handed in to us. We didn’t find a single one of them. People came running to us as though they were on fire. They couldn’t hand them in quickly enough, and most of them hadn’t even read them all the way through…” […] “And one other thing, Quangel. Did you ever stop to think how much misery and fear you brought upon people with those cards of yours? People were in terror, some were arrested, and I know of someone killing himself over one…”

35. „“My crime? I never committed any crime, at least not in the way you mean. My crime was thinking myself too clever, wanting to do everything by myself, even though I know really that one man is nothing. No, I didn’t do anything that I should be ashamed of, but the way I went about it was mistaken. That’s why I deserve my punishment, and that’s why I’ll go gladly to my death…”

36. „“Two hundred and seventy-six postcards, nine letters.” “Which means that all of eighteen items were not handed in.” “Eighteen items: that’s the sum total of my work of two years, my hope. My life for those eighteen pieces of paper. Well, at least they were as many as that!”

37. „“No, and you will never understand it, either. It doesn’t matter if one man fights or ten thousand; if the one man sees he has no option but to fight, then he will fight, whether he has others on his side or not. I had to fight, and given the chance I would do it again. Only I would do it very differently.”

38. „“And you fully understand what lies in store for you? A long jail sentence, or possibly death?” “I know what I’ve done. And I hope you know what you’re doing, too, Inspector!” “Oh, and what’s that, then?” “You’re working in the employ of a murderer, delivering ever new victims to him. You do it for money; perhaps you don’t even believe in the man. No, I’m certain you don’t believe in him. Just for money, then…”

39. „But while all this was going on, Escherich had had the sense that through the rivers of blood and drink, Quangel was staring at him; he could have sworn he heard him saying, So that’s the just cause in which you do murder! These are your henchmen! This is how you are. You know very well what you’re about. But I will die for committing acts that were not crimes, and you will live—so much for the justice of your cause!

40. „And me? What about me? For me, it’s on to the next case, and if the diligent Escherich isn’t up to the expectations of Obergruppenführer Prall, I’ll get another stint in the basement. Eventually, the day will come when I’ll go down there never to come up again. Is that the day I’m living toward? No, Quangel is right to call Hitler a murderer and me his henchman. I never cared who manned the tiller, or why this war was being fought, so long as I was able to go about my usual business, the catching of human beings. Then, once I’d caught them, I didn’t care what became of them… But now I do care. I’ve had it up to here with it; it disgusts me to keep those fellows supplied with fresh prey; from the moment I caught Quangel, it felt disgusting to me. The way he stood there and looked at me. Blood and schnapps running down his face, but the stare! This is your doing, his eyes were telling me, you betrayed me! Oh, if only I could, I would sacrifice ten Enno Kluges for the sake of this one Quangel, I would give this entire building here for his liberty! If it were still possible, I would leave here, and I would start something, like Otto Quangel did—something better conceived, but I also want to fight.

41. „“Here I am, probably the only man Otto Quangel converted with his postcard campaign. But I’m no good to you, Otto Quangel, I can’t carry on your labor. I’m too much of a coward. Still, I’m your only disciple, Otto Quangel!”

42. „“So you’re trying to pull out a few emotional stops, eh, Dad? Good idea. Only that sort of thing doesn’t work with me. You ought to know I don’t care about emotions. I’d rather have a proper ham sandwich than all the emotion in the world! But I don’t want to leave you without one more cigarette—hup, there you go!”

43. „Quangel would look at him, this fine gentleman, whom he wouldn’t have known how to talk to in the outside world, and sometimes a doubt would come over him; he wondered whether he had lived the right sort of life, cutting himself off from everyone else in a voluntary self-isolation.

44. „Yes, there was no doubt: past fifty and facing death, Quangel was changing. He might not like it—he even fought it—but he noticed more and more clearly that he was changing, influenced not only by the music but also, more generally, by the man who hummed it. He, who had so many times told Anna to keep quiet, who had taken silence for the best condition, would now suddenly catch himself wishing that Dr. Reichhardt would put down his book and speak to him again.

45. „“But it’s different for me, Doctor. I always thought it was enough if I did my work properly and didn’t mess anything up. And now I learn that there are loads of other things I could have done: play chess, be kind to people, listen to music, go to the theater. You know, Doctor, if I were granted one wish before my death, it would be to see you with your baton conducting a big symphony orchestra. I’m so curious to see it, and find out my reaction to it.”

46. „“Well, it will have helped us to feel that we behaved decently till the end. And much more, it will have helped people everywhere, who will be saved for the righteous few among them, as it says in the Bible. Of course, Quangel, it would have been a hundred times better if we’d had someone who could have told us. Such and such is what you have to do; our plan is this and this. But if there had been such a man in Germany, then Hitler would never have come to power in 1933. As it was, we all acted alone, we were caught alone, and every one of us will have to die alone. But that doesn’t mean that we are alone, Quangel, or that our deaths will be in vain. Nothing in this world is done in vain, and since we are fighting for justice against brutality, we are bound to prevail in the end.”

47. „This “guilty” plea betrayed pride. Judge Freisler could see recognition of it in the faces of the spectators in the courtroom, some of whom were astonished, and others pensive. He wanted to strip the accused of that recognition. He wanted them to leave these proceedings without a shred of dignity.

48. „The vial of cyanide had made him free. The others, his companions in suffering, had to walk to the end of their designated road; he had a choice. He could die at any minute of his choosing. He was free. In the death house, behind bars and high walls, in chains and irons, he—Otto Quangel, erstwhile master carpenter, husband, father, troublemaker—was free.

49. „“Do you think it’s mad to be willing to pay any price for remaining decent?” “You didn’t need the postcards for that.” “That would have been a kind of tacit agreement. What was your price for turning into such a fine gentleman, with creased trousers and polished fingernails and deceitful concluding speeches? What did you have to pay?” The lawyer said nothing. “You see!” said Quangel. “And you will continue to pay more and more, and maybe one day, like me, you will pay with your life, but you will have done it for your indecency!”

50. „That’s it. Sometime she will be weak and do it, and in the instant that she’s done it, the tiny instant between life and death, she will be sorry, more sorry than for anything in her life: by her weakness and her cowardice she will have robbed herself of the chance of maybe seeing Otto once more. He will be told the news of her death, and he will learn that she has stopped waiting for him, that she betrayed him, that she was cowardly. And he will despise her—he, whose respect is the only thing that matters to her in the whole world.

51. „He had shaken hands with the executioner as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

52. „Now, thought Quangel. Now… But he didn’t do it. A terrible, tormenting curiosity tickled him… A couple minutes more, he thought. I must know what it feels like to lie on the table…

53. „And as she knits, she dreams. She dreams of her reunion with Otto, and it is during one such dream that a bomb comes down and turns that part of the prison into ash and rubble.

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