Review : Diary of a Man in Despair by Friedrich Reck

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The best review of Friedrich Reck’s ‘diary’ is the afterword included in this volume, written by Richard Evans. Reck may have embellished and sometimes misreported the truth, as Alphons Kappeler claimed in his 1975 PhD dissertation. Evans agrees that he simply had certain facts wrong. He may well have been pretentious. His objections to Nazism seem at times to focus on its vulgarity and idiocy, rather than its moral evil. He appears to think that Kaiser Wilhelm’s first Great War was somehow honourable. He hid his diary rather than taking the suicidal step of going public. Nevertheless, his courage cannot be denied, as is demonstrated in his publication of ‘Bockelson’ and ‘Charlotte Corday’, in both of which he mocked Hitler in the same vein in which Bulgakov mocked Stalin in his ‘Master and Marguerita’. Many of his views proved remarkably prescient.

The challenge he left is why so few shared his perspective and took his position. To perceive and critique wrong in one’s own society, and to stand against the flow of one’s peers, takes a rare courage. The call to such courage is the main bequest of Reck’s diary.

 

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