Saturday, January 10, 2009
Under Two Dictators: Prisoner of Stalin and Hitler by Margarete Buber-Neumann
One might say that Margarete Buber-Neumann had a charmed life, had it not been so horrible. She was fortunate - if that is the word - to be sent to a Soviet labour camp in 1939, during a momentary lull in the mass shooting of prisoners. Handed over to the Nazis in 1940, she was similarly lucky to be released from an SS concentration camp in 1945, just days before the remaining prisoners were forced on evacuation marches ending in death. It is a measure of the dismal times she lived through that such events marked her as fortunate, and it is a testament to her skill as a writer that this thoughtful, humane memoir (published in English in 1949) became an international bestseller. From the very first page we are with her, scurrying through Moscow surrounded by images of Stalin. We accompany her throughout the gruelling years ahead, encountering a host of characters, good and bad, and share in her dogged attempt to make sense of the madness of totalitarianism. This revised text is the definitive edition.