The Broken House
Horst Kruger, Shaun Whiteside
‘Extraordinary… compelling’ Mail on Sunday
‘Exquisitely written… haunting… Few books, I think, capture so well the sense of a life broken for ever by trauma and guilt’ Sunday Times
The Broken House is a rediscovered coming-of-age story that provides an unforgettable portrait of life under the Nazis.
In 1965, journalist Horst Kruger attended the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt, where 22 former camp guards were put on trial for the systematic murder of over 1 million men, women and children.
The trial sent Kruger back to his childhood in the 1930s, in an attempt to understand ‘how it really was, that incomprehensible time’. He had grown up in a Berlin suburb. Here, people lived ordinary, non-political lives, believed in God and obeyed the law, but were gradually seduced and intoxicated by the promises of Nazism. He had been ‘the typical child of innocuous Germans who were never Nazis, and without whom the Nazis would never have been able to do their work’.
This world of respectability, order and duty began to crumble when tragedy struck. Step by step, a family that had fallen under the spell of Nazism was destroyed by it.
Originally published in Germany in 1966 but out of print for decades, this moving and tragic portrait of family life under the Nazis is now available for the first time to UK readers.
‘The book that broke the silence… the writing glowers from the page – sorrowful, disbelieving, chastened and yet not without hope’ Observer
Exquisitely written... haunting... Few books, I think, capture so well the sense of a life broken for ever by trauma and guilt -- Dominic Sandbrook * Sunday Times * A masterpiece. An astonishing piece of literature. Complex, heartfelt, vibrant, intense, urgent. A must read. I read it straight through to the last page and then wanted to read it all over again -- Thomas Harding, bestselling author of Hanns and Rudolf The major rediscovery of a forgotten treasure. No book has ever so honestly evoked the wretched terror of life in Nazi Germany -- James Hawes, author of The Shortest History of Germany I often think that the key to a successful memoir is to find the right place to stand, the effective distance. Writing in the sixties, Kruger had enough clarity to see where his story fitted into the big picture, but he can still make the reader feel the passion, danger and grief. It is an unsparing, honest and insightful memoir, that shows how private failure becomes national disaster. There is no mercy from the author and no false hope, but he fills a gap in the historical imagination -- Hilary Mantel A fascinating and spine-chilling book -- Julia Franck
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