‘Alone in Berlin’ by Hans Fallada tells of what it was like to live in Berlin under the Nazi party during the Second World War. It gives a truly frightening take on how society breaks down and where everyone is under suspicion because they are all guilty of some form of sedition, whether they know it or not, whether they intended it or not. It tells of the ruling party that is above the law, indeed it is the law, and where the truth is bent to fit the story. In Germany, at that time, there was no truth, there was just what the party said.
It is the second time I have read the book, I referred to it in a blog back in 2016, yet I am still shocked by its content, even more so after what has occurred over the last four years.
Today we are a long way away from Germany in the 1930s and 40s yet, in so many ways we are on the foothills of the same journey.
Xenophobia is rife, foreigners are blamed for many of our problems, and hatred is stoked by a willing press. The government lies constantly, nobody can tell what is true anymore and, if they could it wouldn’t matter anyway. Because of its total disregard for parliamentary procedure, there is little meaningful scrutiny, laws are broken, treaties are ridden roughshod over, reports are hidden and failure glossed over. Contracts are handed out to cronies and supporters in a blatant show of corruption, so blatant that nobody cares to deny it anymore because they are above reproof.
Madcap and extreme suggestions are made to address social ails, wave machines to flush away migrants attempting to cross the Channel, shipping those that are already here to a remote island with no means of escape, concentration camps for rough sleepers and a campaign to stop buying anything foreign from a country that cannot grow enough to feed itself.
Populism is alive and well in the UK and what is more worrying is not that people come up with these ideas but that people accept them and want to seem them bear fruit.
I don’t know what has happened to this once tolerant nation. Perhaps that was what people were asking in Germany a hundred years ago.
You should read the book.