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The Dresden Diary 2

Klemperer's diary chiefly chronicles the restricted daily life of Jews during the Nazi terror, including the onset of a succession of prohibitions concerning many aspects of everyday existence, such as finances, transportation, medical care, the maintenance and use of household help, food and diet, and the possession of appliances, newspapers, and other items. He also gives accounts of suicides, household searches, and the deportation of his friends, mostly to Theresienstadt. Throughout his experience, Klemperer maintained his sense of identity as a German, expressing even in 1942 that "I am German, and still waiting for the Germans to come back; they have gone to ground somewhere".[7] Although this is one of the phrases most evocative of Klemperer's despair over the corruption of German culture, his sense of who and what was truly "German" evolved considerably during the war. Especially in the final weeks of the war and immediately after Germany's surrender, when Klemperer was free to mix and talk with (or eavesdrop on) a wide variety of Germans, his observations of the "German" identity show how complex this question was, and why it was so central to his purpose in writing the LTI and his journals.

The Dresden Diary 2


On 13 February 1945, Klemperer witnessed the delivery of notices of deportation to some of the last remaining members of the Jewish community in Dresden, and feared that the authorities would soon also send him to his death. On the following three nights the Allies heavily bombed Dresden for the first time, causing massive damage and a firestorm; during the chaos that followed, Klemperer removed his yellow star (punishable by death if discovered) on 19 February, joined a refugee column, and escaped into American-controlled territory. He and his wife survived, and Klemperer's diary narrates their return, largely on foot through Bavaria and Eastern Germany, to their house in Dölzschen, on the outskirts of Dresden.[11] They managed to reclaim the house, which the Nazis had "aryanised".

He became a significant cultural figure in East Germany, lecturing at the universities of Greifswald, Berlin and Halle. He was a delegate of the Cultural Association of the GDR in the GDR's Parliament (Volkskammer) from 1950 to 1958, and frequently mentions in his later diary his frustration at its lack of power and its largely ceremonial role.

Klemperer's diary was published in 1995 as Tagebücher (Berlin, Aufbau). It was an immediate literary sensation and rapidly became a bestseller in Germany. An English translation of the years spanning the Nazi seizure of power through Klemperer's death has appeared in three volumes: I Will Bear Witness (1933 to 1941), To The Bitter End (1942 to 1945) and The Lesser Evil (1945 to 1959).

The firebombing campaign was supposed to begin with an United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force raid on Dresden on February 13, but bad weather over Europe prevented any American operations, but the RAF Bomber Command carried out the first raid. During the evening of February 13, 796 Avro Lancasters and 9 De Havilland Mosquitoes were dispatched in two separate waves and dropped 1,478 tons of high explosive and 1,182 tons of incendiary bombs by the early hours of February 14. The first attack was carried out entirely by No. 5 Group RAF, using their own low-level marking methods. This allowed the first bombs to be released over Dresden at 22:14, with all but one bomber releasing all their bombs within two minutes. This last Lancaster bomber of No. 5 group dropped its bombs at 22:22.[8]

The firebombing consisted of by-then standard methods; dropping large amounts of high-explosive to blow off the roofs to expose the timbers within buildings, followed by incendiary devices (fire-sticks) to ignite them and then more high-explosives to hamper the efforts of the fire services. This eventually created a self-sustaining firestorm with temperatures peaking at over 1,500 C. After the area caught fire, the air above the bombed area became extremely hot and rose rapidly. Cold air then rushed in at ground level from the outside and people were sucked into the fire.

Friedrich also contends that the outcome of previous bombing attacks demonstrate that the Allied forces were aware of the destruction caused by incendiary bombs, and that due to the collapse of German air defense and improvements in bombing accuracy, future attacks were likely to cause ever increasing numbers of civilian deaths. Der Brand also documents in detail the oral history of local people as to what happened and how they felt, along with city records from the time.

An account in the diary of Victor Klemperer supports this. On February 12, 1945, the order was given to deliver call-up letters to virtually all of the remaining handful of Jews in Dresden to be deported, but the bombing the next night destroyed much of the train station and threw much of the city into chaos. Victor Klemperer and his wife, Eva, fled amid the chaos. He removed the "J" and yellow Star of David from his jacket and they began heading south. By walking, riding on carts, trucks and trains they eventually reached Bavaria. They had picked up temporary identification papers, which did not show his Jewish origins.[32]

Travels to Germany and Italy with 21 year-old Einar, son of Adolph Drewsen and Ingeborg Collin. They take the steamship 'Slesvig' to Kiel. Aboard, HCA hears (cf. the diary for this date) from a Russian clergyman that The Improvisatore has been translated well and appears in "one of the best Russian journals" [presumably it is the edition from 1845]. From Kiel by train to Leipzig, where HCA goes to see Lorck. From here on to Dresden (arriving 11th May), where HCA socialises with his old friends, especially the Serre family.

By train through Prague to Vienna. Here he meets Jenny Lind with her husband and child and hears her sing at a concert. They continue on 29th to Triest (arriving 31st). Einar was ill on the journey and "cranky" (the diary, 30th).

Aboard the steamship 'Roma' to Venice. Continuing on 6th June by train to Peschiera and by steamship across Lake Garda to Riva. From here with an omnibus along a rough cliff road to Trient. Further via Botzen and Innsbruck to Munich (arrival 12th June). Along the way, a Scottish man, who did not know to whom he was speaking, tells HCA that he always carried The Improvisatore with him on trips to Italy. Poisonous bites on the cheek and throat become infected. Has a poultice applied, which he keeps on whilst attending a social event in Munich. Here he is seated between ladies who compliment him. "I was in despair and then they asked me to read aloud, I suffered greatly after that (the diary, 12th). Argues with Einar at this time.

Photocopied from the typescript of Rosy's diary, this collection consists of a daily account of the affairs, difficulties, deaths, and friendships of the people in a wagon train during the 1860's. She is specific as to time and distance travelled, tolls paid for the passage of the wagon, the weather, and her health, commenting frequently about the heat and that she had a "sick headache."

The collection consists of a single diary that records the events of two distinct trips taken by Blanche Simmons and her parents in 1879 and 1880. The first half of the diary documents a family vacation to Belgium and the Netherlands from September 19th to October 13th, 1879, with stops in Brussels, Spa, Utrecht, Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Ghent. The diary describes the sights and the family's activities in these cities, in smaller towns, and on nature walks. Art museums and churches, as well as the headdresses and clothing worn by local women are described in particular detail. Many commercial albumen prints on card stock and dried plant specimens are affixed to the diary pages, and the entry for Friday the 3rd includes a humorous, rhyming poem relating events of the first half of the trip.

The second half of the diary documents a trip to Berlin, Germany, from June 11th to July 9th, 1880, during which Blanche's father, Sir John Simmons, and Major Ardagh attended a conference in Berlin for "the settling of the Greek frontier" accompanied by Blanche, her mother, and their escort, Captain Wood. As in the earlier vacation, commentary chiefly centers on sightseeing with an emphasis on museums, but also relates details of the conference, as recounted to Blanche, and describes several formal functions attended by her party, including receptions at the British Embassy and a small dinner gathering at the New Palace in Potsdam with Crown Prince Friedrick, Crown Princess Victoria of Great Britain, Prince Wilhelm, and Princesses Victoria-Augusta and Caroline of Schleswig-Holstein. Sights in Cologne, Dresden, and Aachen are also described, and the diary concludes with two humorous "Odes," one commemorating the events of the trip and the other, a twenty-three stanza piece written by Major Ardagh, on the Conference of Berlin.


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