Travels in the Reich, 1933-1945
Foreign Authors Report from Germany
“Even now,” wrote Christopher Isherwood in his Berlin Diary of 1933, “I can’t altogether believe that any of this has really happened.” Three years later, W. E. B. DuBois described Germany as “silent, nervous, suppressed; it speaks in whispers.” In contrast, a young John F. Kennedy, in the journal he kept on a German tour in 1937, wrote, “The Germans really are too good—it makes people gang against them for protection.”
Drawing on such published and unpublished accounts from writers and public figures visiting Germany, Travels in the Reich creates a chilling composite portrait of the reality of life under Hitler. Written in the moment by writers such as Virginia Woolf, Isak Dinesen, Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre, William Shirer, Georges Simenon, and Albert Camus, the essays, letters, and articles gathered here offer fascinating insight into the range of responses to Nazi Germany. While some accounts betray a distressing naivete, overall what is striking is just how clearly many of the travelers understood the true situation—and the terrors to come.
Through the eyes of these visitors, Travels in the Reich offers a new perspective on the quotidian—yet so often horrifying—details of German life under Nazism, in accounts as gripping and well-written as a novel, but bearing all the weight of historical witness.
About This Anthology
1933 to 1939
Christopher Isherwood Goodbye to Berlin
Georges Simenon Hitler in the Elevator
Annemarie Schwarzenbach Why Could the Nazis Come?
Martha Dodd Hitler Needs a Woman
Gunnar Ekelöf The Sick Man of Europe
Jean-Paul Sartre A Sort of Simultaneity
Martha Dodd “Are You Still Alive?”—30 June 1934
Max Frisch The Miracle of Life
Virginia Woolf On the Rhine with Mitzi
Konrad Warner Harvest Festival, 1935
Denis de Rougemont The Dream of Sixty Million People
Martha Dodd A Party for Tom
Thomas Wolfe “I Have a Thing to Tell You”
Albert Camus Into the Bottomless Pit
W.E.B. DuBois Untitled
Samuel Beckett Uninterrupted HH
Jean Genet A Race of Thieves
John F. Kennedy Diary Excerpts
Maria Leitner A Visit to Heinrich Heine
Shi Min The Yellow Face
Richard Hillary Göring’s Cup
William Shirer A Demonstration against the War
René Juvet Kristallnacht—8 November 1938
Heinrich Hauser Berlin in the Summer of 1939
1939 to 1945
William Shirer Counterattack
Sven Hedin Audience
Meinrad Inglin Fevered German Dreams
Sven Hedin At Göring’s Table
Karen Blixen Half Moon and Swastika
Howard K. Smith The Germans’ Mood Swings
Harry Flannery In the Wild West Bar
Howard K. Smith Special Press Conference, 9 October 1941
Jacques Chardonne The Heaven of Nieflheim
József Nyírö The Enemy Is Listening!
Howard K. Smith At the Lion’s Tail
Gösta Block Don’t Throw Stones at the Pianist!
Konrad Warner In the Dying City
René Juvet “Tomorrow I Have to Go Back to the Camp”
Konrad Warner “Will Exchange Skillet for Picture of the Führer”
Theo Findahl Carpet Bombing |
René Schindler Leipzig Is Dead!
Theo Findahl The Sky Is Red
Jacob Kronika Children’s Games
Theo Findahl Nineveh Is a Great City
Jacob Kronika “I Must Speak to the Führer”
Theo Findahl Crispbread from Stockholm
Wiking Jerk Twilight of the Gods
Jacob Kronika The Final Days
Virginia Irwin The First “Amerikanski” in Berlin
Wiking Jerk The Propaganda Minster’s Corpse
Jacob Kronika Cry for Vengeance
Theo Findahl Eighth of May 1945
“Given the glut of books about Nazism that rehash familiar ground, Travels in the Reich achieves no mean feat in approaching the subject in a new way. . . [It] gives readers the rare opportunity to peer into Nazi Germany through the eyes of outsiders. . . . The vivid descriptions in these reports convey a real sense of the contrasting atmospheres in which they were written. . . . Travels in the Reich sets out to inform us about day-to-day life in Germany between 1933 and 1945 and it is certainly successful in its mission.”
"A chilling and remarkable collection. . . . Essential. All academic and general readers."
"No single account of life inside Hitler's Germany paints a more vivid landscape than Travels in the Reich. From Samuel Beckett to Virginia Woolf, the three dozen writers collected in this volume take us on a journey that is as compelling as it is disturbing. An important addition to the history of the Second World War."
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