Under Two Dictators: Prisoner of Stalin and Hitler: With an introduction by Nikolaus Wachsmann
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
This book is a unique account by a survivor of both the Soviet and Nazi concentration camps: its author, Margarete Buber-Neumann, was a loyal member of the German Communist party. From 1935 she and her second husband, Heinz Neumann, were political refugees in Moscow. In April 1937 Neumann was arrested by the secret police, and executed by the end of the year. She herself was arrested in 1938.
In Under Two Dictators Buber-Neumann describes the two years of suffering she endured in the Soviet prisons and in the huge Central-Asian concentration and slave labour camp of Karaganda; her extradition to the Gestapo in 1940 at the time of the Stalin-Hitler Friendship Pact; and her five years of suffering in the Nazi concentration and death camp for women, Ravensbrück. Her story displays extraordinary powers of observation and of memory as she describes her own fate, as well as those of hundreds of fellow prisoners. She explores the behaviour of the guards, supervisors, police and secret police and compares and contrasts Stalin and Hitler's methods of dictatorship and terror.
First published in Swedish, German and English and subsequently translated and published in a further nine languages, Under Two Dictators is harrowing in its depiction of life under the rule of two of the most brutal regimes the western world has ever seen but also an inspiring story of survival, of ideology and of strength and a clarion call for the protection of democracy.
Moscow in 1937, soon followed by her own detention. But her political life had begun almost two decades earlier, during one of the most tumultuous periods of German history. In autumn 1918, when she was just seventeen years old, Germany was turned upside down. Exhausted from the unprecedented bloodshed and destruction of the First World War, the German Empire finally sued for peace – unwittingly sparking a revolution, spearheaded by soldiers and workers demanding an immediate armistice. The mass
the corridor with an anxious look on her face. I told her I had come to see her because she had been born in Moscow. Her face lighted up. ‘Moscow!’ she exclaimed. ‘Do you know Moscow? Do you speak Russian?’ And when I spoke to her in Russian she embraced me and began to sob. She was the daughter of White Russian emigrants and a niece of the Czarist Minister, Stolypin. She was in camp for having led an allegedly asocial life. After that we often chatted with each other. She was not very well
greater their reward would be after the forces of Good had triumphed at ‘Armageddon’. It struck me as an accountant’s form of morality, but they were obviously not conscious of it. If one of their ‘sisters’, as they called each other, won the crown of martyrdom, they showed no trace of sadness or horror. ‘She has passed over. She is happier than we are,’ they would say at the news that another of their friends had suffered death as the culmination of their often horrible sufferings in the camp.
insisted that she had never said anything of the sort. ‘Very well,’ he declared. ‘We’ll soon see.’ And at that moment the door opened and her husband was brought in. ‘He was in a terrible state,’ said Tasso. ‘His face was pale and worn and his eyes looked everywhere but at me. There were marks round his wrists as though he had been constantly in handcuffs. “Well,” said my examiner with a grin, “will you confess now?” “I’ve nothing to confess,” I replied. “Then your husband will give you the
suitable place in a corner where, we discovered, we could write on the wall in soap. The very next day three more were taken away, including Carola. The day after that, when we went to the washroom, we looked anxiously for a message. There was none. Had the wardress seen it perhaps and wiped it away? We had to contain our curiosity as best we could, and indeed, our life had many distractions. The only non-German amongst us was Frau Fekete, a Hungarian. She was a hairdresser and beauty expert by