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Drawing on such published and unpublished accounts from writers and public figures visiting Germany, Travels in the Reich creates a chilling composite portrait of the reality of life under Hitler.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.
“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."