Curator Reviews

Masha Gessen’s Guide to Understanding Tyranny

An extraordinary document of life under the Nazis, Klemperer’s diaries draw on weave details of his life in 1930s Germany into a powerful indictment of a state moving ineluctably along the road of tyranny. The son of a rabbi, Klemperer converted to Protestantism in his twenties but was still forced to endure the deprivations and humiliations of German Jews. He survived the war thanks to his wife’s “racial purity” and lived in east Germany, working in Dresden as a professor in Romance languages until his death in 1960. His diaries were only published in 1995, and are now considered a classic of the genre.

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