THE LESSER EVIL: The Diaries of Victor Klemperer, 1945–1959

Victor Klemperer, Author, Martin Chalmers, Translator, George Weidenfeld & Nicholson Ltd, Manufactured by , abridged and trans. from the German by Martin Chalmers. Weidenfeld & Nicolson $40 (500p) ISBN 978-1-84212-743-8

This third and final volume of the diaries of Klemperer, a German-Jewish professor of philology who survived the Nazis because his wife was Christian, lacks the inherent drama of his life under the Nazis, related in the first two, highly acclaimed volumes, and many readers will be mystified by the political twists and turns of East German communism. Nonetheless, Klemperer was an acute observer of life's complexities, and the diary becomes quite a good read. In 1945, he is amazed that he has survived, but the conditions of life are still wrenching. He is suspicious of all the former acquaintances who shunned him in the Nazi years and now fawn over him. As a privileged academic in Communist East Germany, Klemperer attends endless, mind-numbing meetings, but also receives a number of appointments, a good salary and a cherished automobile. He publishes his most important work, LTI, a study of Nazi language. As someone who had suffered so acutely under the Nazis, he believes communism is "the lesser evil," yet he is anguished by the parallels between Nazism and communism. The diary is a poignant document about life under communism and the political choices that so many Europeans faced after WWII. (Sept. 1)

Reviewed on: 07/12/2004
Release date: 01/01/2004
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