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Distributed for Seagull Books

30 April 1945

The Day Hitler Shot Himself and Germany’s Integration with the West Began

Translated by Wieland Hoban. With additional text by Reinhard Jirgl, translated by Iain Galbraith

Distributed for Seagull Books

30 April 1945

The Day Hitler Shot Himself and Germany’s Integration with the West Began

Translated by Wieland Hoban. With additional text by Reinhard Jirgl, translated by Iain Galbraith
A reissue of Alexander Kluge's kaleidoscopic view of a historically important day and its effects on many people’s lives.

April 30, 1945, marked an end of sorts in the Third Reich. The last business day before a national holiday and then a series of transfers of power, April 30 was a day filled with contradictions and bewildering events that would forever define global history. It was on this day that while the Red Army occupied Berlin, Hitler committed suicide in his underground bunker, and, in San Francisco, the United Nations was being founded.

Alexander Kluge’s latest book, 30 April 1945, covers this single historic day and unravels its passing hours across the different theaters of the Second World War. Translated by Wieland Hoban, the book delves into the events happening around the world on one fateful day, including the life of a small German town occupied by American forces and the story of two SS officers stranded on the forsaken Kerguelen Islands in the South Indian Sea. Kluge is a master storyteller, and as he unfolds these disparate tales, one unavoidable question surfaces: What is the appropriate reaction to the total upheaval of the status quo?

Presented here with an afterword by Reinhard Jirgl, translated by Iain Galbraith, 30 April 1945 is a riveting collection of lives turned upside down by the deadliest war in history. The collective experiences Kluge paints here are jarring, poignant, and imbued with meaning. Seventy years later, we can still see our own reflections on the upheaval of a single day in 1945.

160 pages | 27 halftones | 5 1/2 x 7 3/4 | © 2015

The Seagull Library of German Literature


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“Readers familiar with how Hitler committed suicide on the last day of April 1945 will find that story enmeshed here in a dense tangle of plots playing out on the same fateful day. In this fractured polynarrative, gifted novelist Alexander Kluge depicts the travails of the famous (Martin Heiddegger, Ezra Pound, Thomas Mann) and the anonymous (refugees, scavengers, merchants). . . . A compelling translation of a vertiginous descent into a world-shaping cataclysm.”

Booklist | starred review

“Uncompromisingly experimental and resistant to the shaping power of narrative. Kluge creates from the fragments of history the chronicle of a single day. . . . Interspersed with lyrical interludes by the poet Reinhard Jirgl, Kluge’s episodic tapestry allows the reader to appreciate the diverse responses to the imminent collapse of the Reich. . . . Kluge’s 'mosaic of time' shows the endpoint, but also the blossoming of new beginnings.”

Times Literary Supplement

“Those familiar with this particular date in history might feel as if they already know the story of the day Hitler committed suicide, but Kluge weaves a tale of all the events large and small that occurred concurrently. From the momentous political occasions to small tragedies, the examination of one single day demonstrates compellingly how the effects of war radiate out from the big players.”

World Literature Today

Table of Contents

1. Alexander Kluge · Arrival at the Endpoint
‘Galloping Daybreak’
Death in Confusion
The Weapon of Disregard
The Way to the West
The Most Dangerous Weapon of the Second World War
    En Route Further Westwards
What is a Born Fighter?
No Securing of Property at the Sudden Dawn of a New Age
The Ways of Money
A Future Fortune
At Least for a Glance
On Imagined Roads
Undertaking in the Manner of a ‘Scouting Game’, Simply Because There Was Petrol Available
A Practice Fight out of Recklessness
Aftershocks of Wartime
Film Scene in the Park
End of an Epoch
Processing the Spoils
Overcome by the Front
One Disaster among Millions
No Enemy Was Needed to End the War
A Fatal Encounter between Two Jurisdictions
An Anti-Bolshevik Prague for One Day
Much That Had Been Left Unfinished Was Still Meant to Be Taken Care of
The Last Days of ‘Eternal France’
A Provisional Life
The Trains East of the Brenner Pass Were Running at Full Tilt 
Three Russian Offensives in the Eastern Alps and up the Danube
‘But this one is called Ister. It dwells in beauty’
The End of Hostility, Experience at the Vienna Burgtheater 
A Hotel in No Man’s Land
The ‘Black Hand’ of 1914 Would Not Have a Chance against the President of the USA
Outrageous Decisions in So Short a Time
More Waste than ever Before 
Deadline Pressure for the Führer
Venus Plus Mars in Square Relation to Saturn: The Constellation of Death
The Threshold for Violent Killing in a Stone Age Tribe
‘Everyone Approved of the Killing’
How Small a Number of Military Predictions Survived a Quarter-Centry
Arrival at the Endpoint
On Side Paths
He Wished He Could Come Home
‘Guilt, the Oldest Marble’
The Intertwinement of the Spiritual World with the Real
A Ghostly Celestial Phenomenon over the Brocken
Heiner Müller: The Iron Cross
The Last Meteorologist of Pillau 

2. Reinhard Jirgl
War Births
Afterpiece. Lucky Shadow

3. Alexander Kluge · in a Different Country 
The Large-Scale Celestial Events, Neutral towards the Turbulently Changing Fronts on the Ground
Judgement at Dawn
Metaphor of a Refugee Who Ended up in the Neutral Country
Will You Be Emigrating in the Foreseeable Future?
A Current Advertisement for Life Insurance
Newspaper Report on a Tragic Detail 
Transfer of Migrant Workers to Their Home Countries through Switzerland
A Military Hospital Crosses the Border with Heavily Wounded Patients
Free Time
The Weekly Film Schedule at Zurich Cinemas
The Explosive Device in the Gotthard Tunnel
On the ‘Black List’
Background Conversation in 1983
Laconic Reply
A Straggler
The Grave of Stefan Man

4. Reinhard Jirgl
The Great March
The Smile of a Family Man

5. Alexander Kluge · In the Reich Capital
Division of the City into Combat Sectors
How I Lost My Friend
As the Last Poet in the Reich Ministry of Propaganda
Skirmishes on the Eve of 30 April at Heerstrasse City Train Station
An Unreal Final Connection between 1936 and April 1945
Commemoration of Dead Words
Reading Time
As a Faithful Eyewitness
The Last and Only Action by the New Reich Chancellor in Matters of Foreign Policy
Last Connection
Everything Went Too Quickly to Process the New Realities Inwardly
In the Basements of the Charité
Island of Civilization
Normally One Pays for Erotic Services; Here One Pays for Lives to Be Saved
Education Struggle to the Last
He Had Only Got Three of His Students Through to Spandau-West
Thirst in the Wasteland
News across the International Date Line

6. Reinhard Jirgl
A Proletarian Clytemnestra

7. Alexander Kluge ·In a Small Town
In a Small Town
Digging for the Dead
Loot with No Practical Value
Domeyer Garden Centre at Burchardi Green
Assigned to Removal Work: From the Large Space to Simple Cultivation
Re-enacting Conquest
Life in the Rhythm of Haricuts
Haircut for the New Times
Early Commercial Flowering, Blown away a Moment Later
Gitti and the Captain Wandered along the Shore, holding Hands (‘Several heavens walked beside them’)
Transatlantic Door
Tufts of Grass
View of the Brocken 
A Day with a Surprise 

8. Reinhard Jirgl
Uncanny Bridge-Building
Early Shift. Scene for an Imaginary Front Theatre.

9. Alexander Kluge · On the Globe
Immense Redistribution of Military Forces Halfway around the Globe
A Stock-Market Leap
The System of Certificates
Circumnavigation of the Early by Ship
Disappointing Arrival in East Asia
Robinsonad in the Ice
Neutral Ship
Fortunate Landing
Coup in Argentina
In the Seven-Hill City of San Francisco
The Genesis of the Veto
The Patriot of Lviv
‘What To Do?’
‘All wheels stand still if your strong arm wills it’
On Folding Beds
With Embers That Burn for Over 40 Years
In the Eye of the Secret Service 
A Labour Leader at the Hotel Palace
A Senior Comrade
Pilloried by the New Generation 

10. Reinhard Jirgl
After Midnight
The Oldest Peace
Shadow Figures 1. We all fall down.

11. Alexander Kluge · Heidegger at Wildenstein Castle
An Enclave of German Spirit
From the Attendance List
Wildenstein Castle Was No Ship
Unoccupiable Territory
Crossing to Switzerland
The Night March to Neu-Breisach
Mineness of Concern
The Three Leaves of the Lily
Curiosity and the Lust of the Eyes
Is It Possible, as Hölderlin Says, to ‘Fall” Upwards?
‘The Aroundness of the Environment’
‘Man Was Originally Similar to Other Creatures, Namely, Fish’
Announcement on Swiss Radio
News on Radio Beromünster at 9:40 a.m.
Heidegger on Actuality
‘Primordial Will as Spirit’
The Entertainment Character of Thought
The Brothers Grimm and the ‘Small Border Traffic of Fairy Tales’
‘Fallen Into the Well’
The Temporality of Hope

12. Reinhard Jirgl 
Shadow Figure 2. Into the Light

13. Alexander Kluge · I, the Last National Socialist in Kabul 
I, the Last National Socialist in Kabul
A Building Block for the Fourth Reich
The Tunnel to Leuthen
A Warlike Leftovers 
Radio Work in the Final Hour
Group Photo with Capitulators
A Failed Surrender
Episode near Eitting: Taken Prisoner along with Their Prisoners
Surrender at Unusual Times
Bite Inhibition in Wolves
Failed Surrender by the Last Followers of Antony and Cleopatra
Certain Captivity, an Uncertain Status
‘Whether the governor of a besieged fortress should go out and parley’
‘I will lay my head on screws until all bridges are blown to pieces’
Handover of a City
A Surrender That Was Unprofessional in Form but Successful in Content
Life-Saving Message to the Enemy
Emergency Supplying of Shaft Mines Knows No Fronts
Exhausted as We were
At Rest
Devastated Youth: Hitler Youth Area Leader Friedrich Grupe Reports
Fair Copy Based on the Latin
Network of Loyalty
The Loyalty Machine
Nocturnal Confession 
Performance of a Play
Betrayal of Comrades on All Sides
Hatred without Distinction of Person
‘Darkness in the minds if the perpetrators’
The Uncanniness of Props
Disloyalty, Sacrificial Death
‘When I see you, I must weep’
‘I readily trust others’
Awkward Leap
‘Mourir pour Danzing’: Nobody Wants to Die for Gdansk
‘When I look at a head officer, I imagine how he would look headless’
New Use for Old Property

14. Alexander Kluge · In Place of a Postscript 

Photograph Credits

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