Monday, November 22, 2021

First Paragraph

 On May 7, 1945, the German author Erich K√§stner wrote in his diary: "People walk through the streets, numbed. The short pause in history lessons makes them nervous. The gaps between no longer and not yet bewilders them." This book is about the phase between "no longer" and "not yet" in Germany. The old order of National Socialist rule had collapsed, and the new order under the occupying powers had yet to be established. Many contemporaries experienced the days between Hitler's death on April 30 and Germany's unconditional surrender on May 7 and 8, 1945, as a profound caesura in their own life stories, as the oft-invoked German "zero hour." During this period, the clocks literally seemed to be standing still. "It's so strange living without papers or calendars, clocks or monthly accounting," one Berlin woman noted on May 7. "A ruthless time, which slips by like water, its passing measured only by the comings and goings of men in their foreign uniforms." This feeling of living in a kind of temporal "no man's land" lent the first days of May their unique character.

- From Eight Days in May: The Final Collapse of the Third Reich by Volker Ullrich

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