The End: Hamburg 1943

Paperback | December 31, 2006

byHans Erich Nossack

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One didn't dare to inhale for fear of breathing it in. It was the sound of eighteen hundred airplanes approaching Hamburg from the south at an unimaginable height. We had already experienced two hundred or even more air raids, among them some very heavy ones, but this was something completely new. And yet there was an immediate recognition: this was what everyone had been waiting for, what had hung for months like a shadow over everything we did, making us weary. It was the end.

Novelist Hans Erich Nossack was forty-two when the Allied bombardments of German cities began, and he watched the destruction of Hamburg—the city where he was born and where he would later die—from across its Elbe River. He heard the whistle of the bombs and the singing of shrapnel; he watched his neighbors flee; he wondered if his home—and his manuscripts—would survive the devastation. The End is his terse, remarkable memoir of the annihilation of the city, written only three months after the bombing. A searing firsthand account of one of the most notorious events of World War II, The End is also a meditation on war and hope, history and its devastation. And it is the rare book, as W. G. Sebald noted, that describes the Allied bombing campaign from the German perspective.

In the first English-language edition of The End, Nossack's text has been crisply translated by Joel Agee and is accompanied by the photographs of Erich Andres. Poetic, evocative, and yet highly descriptive, The End will prove to be, as Sebald claimed, one of the most important German books on the firebombing of that country.

"A small but critical book, something to read in those quiet moments when we wonder what will happen next."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

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From the Publisher

One didn't dare to inhale for fear of breathing it in. It was the sound of eighteen hundred airplanes approaching Hamburg from the south at an unimaginable height. We had already experienced two hundred or even more air raids, among them some very heavy ones, but this was something completely new. And yet there was an immediate recogni...

Hans Erich Nossack (1901–77) was a prolific writer. His books The D’Arthez Case, To the Unknown Hero, The Impossible Proof, Wait for November, and An Offering for the Dead have been translated into English. Joel Agee is the author of In the House of My Fear and Twelve Years: An American Boyhood in East Germany, the latter published by ...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:112 pages, 7.88 × 5.25 × 1 inPublished:December 31, 2006Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226595579

ISBN - 13:9780226595573

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Joel Agee

The End: Hamburg 1943 
Hans Erich Nossack

Erich Andres: Photographs
Scott Denham

Editorial Reviews

Many readers remember the firebombing of Dresden in World War II largely becauseee of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. Undoubtedly, the destruction of Hamburg, Germany, as the result of massive Allied bombing raids in July 1943 will become associated with this slim yet compelling memoir by German novelist Nossack (1901-77). His eyewitness account of the 1800-plane bombardment was written three months later and published in Germany in 1948. Nossack vividly depicts the human side of war, from the approaching terror to the city's final devastation. Translated by Agee (Twelve Years: An American Boyhood in East Germany), Nossack's prose is both direct and dreamlike. The text is complemented by a portfolio of 13 unforgettable scenes of destruction by Hamburg photographer Erich Andres. In his introduction, Agee portrays Nossack as an Orwell-like writer of conscience who was nearly forgotten after his death. This book deserves a place next to John Hersey's Hiroshima on the top shelf of modern war literature."--Library Journal, starred review