'I WILL BEAR WITNESS",the diary of Victor Klemperer, A German Jew, kept during the Nazi years, 1933-1941, is a harrowingk, painful,but always enlightening account of survival over degradation and certain death.
Klemperer, a Jew who who considered himself fundamentally German, married Eva Schlemmer,a Protestant musician,who shared his life for the next 45 years, in 1906. But marriage to an "Aryan" did not spare him the humiliating, constricted life Jews led after Hitler seized power in 1933.
The diary describes how he was first stripped of his position of Professor of Romance Languages adn Literature at Dresden Technical University, and then, how he and Eva were forced to leave the modest home they had built in the city's suburb and move into a "Jews House" in Dresden.
Little by litle, all the amenities that Klemperer had become accustomed to; his car, his home, and finally, even his typewriter, the crowning insult to a writer, were taken away.
Klemperer also kept a record of how the Nazi regime distorted the German language. Exaggeration was one of the devices used by the propaganda machine. Examples included; ,"The order for a thousand years" for the Third Reich,and "We are building a hall for 60,000 people, the biggest opera house in the globe"Klemperer called these terms,"religious madness", and described Hitler an "absolute master" who "shouts in a strained voice like a drunken and paranoid laborer..(in)..the unctuous bawling, truly bawling of a priest".
A "tour de force" in "I WILL BEAR WITNESS" is the description of eight days Klemperer spent in solitary confinement, deprived of reading or writing materials. At the end of the second day, Klemperer seized upon the strategy of imagining he was dictating his diary to his wife. In this way, he was able to endure the extreme punishment and write about it later.
The diary ends in the December, 1941.Later, we learn that Victor and Eva escaped from Dresden during the firebombing of the city by the Allies in 1945.When the war ended, his home and job restored to him, Klemperer lived to see his books and diary published.
"I WILL BEAR WITNESS" is a remarkable document of those terrible times.
This synopsis report prepared by Betty-Jeanne Korson