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Der Untergang - The Titfield Thunderbolt
Heisenberg might have stayed here
Der Untergang
Book Review: The End: Hamburg 1943, by Hans Erich Nossack
A slim volume, this is an extended essay on the firestorm unleashed on Hamburg in 1943, written some months afterward by Nossack, who lived in Hamburg but happened to be away on holiday during the raids themselves. As such, the foreword by translator Joel Agee accurately describes it as a 'witness' in almost a religious rather than judicial sense. It is a mix of objective detatchment and personal experience. There is a sense throughout in the essay's tone that would doubtless be described today as post-traumatic stress disorder. It's as if the event gave Nossack carte blanche to write about the destruction irrespective of the Nazi regime, which itself was pretty ineffectual in dealing with the humanitarian crisis unleashed by the bombing.

An additional section at the end of the book contains some photographs by Erich Andres. Again there is a mixture - some images compelling in their horror, some disorienting in their quasi-ordinariness. Some photos need no caption, but it might have been helpful if others explained their subject or attempted to provide a more detailed context.

On a lighter note, I really enjoyed Tea With Mussolini on Channel 4 last night. It's no wonder we won the war - not only did we have Alec Guinness on our side, but Judi Dench and Maggie Smith too.

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