...Anna Quangel, grief-stricken but still in terror’s web, is hesitant at first. “Isn’t this thing that you’re wanting to do, isn’t it a bit small, Otto?” she asks. To which her husband responds, “Whether it’s big or small, Anna, if they get wind of it, it’ll cost us our lives.” That does it: “He might be right: whether this act was big or small, no one could risk more than his life. Each according to his strength and abilities, but the main thing was, you fought back.”
The book is based on the true story of Otto and Elise Hampel, whose postcard campaign — “Hitler’s war is the worker’s death!” — frustrated the Gestapo until the couple’s capture in October 1942 and subsequent beheading...
...Fallada catches the intersection of monstrous crime and “preposterous comedy” in power’s intoxication. The confrontation of Inspector Escherich and Quangel is unforgettable. Escherich, having got his prey, is contemptuous of this “gnat” fighting an “elephant:”: “What did you expect anyway, Quangel? You, an ordinary worker, taking on the Führer, who is backed by the Party, the Wehrmacht, the SS, the SA?”
Quangel tries to explain: “If one man sees he has no option but to fight, then he will fight, whether he has others on his side or not.”
...As Hannah Arendt once observed: “Under conditions of terror, most people will comply but some people will not. ... Humanly speaking, no more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation.”
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
The Sole Option
From a book review:-