Diary of a Desperate Man

At long last Amazon has brought me something I’ve sought for a long time: Friedrich Reck’s Tagebuch eines Verzweifelten. Reck (or Reck-Malleczewen, as he sometimes styled himself) is a footnote to the history of the Third Reich; but an interesting and important footnote.

Born in Prussia into the minor landed gentry, Reck never quite fulfilled what his family must have expected from a young man of his station. Indeed, he ended up a journalist. He’d be forgotten today altogether, I’m sure, but for the facts that he opposed the nazis and died in one of their camps.
Reck was an interesting sort of anti-nazi. Far from being a communist or socialist, he was an arch-conservative, a reactionary German nationalist. Unlike some other conservative opponents of the Hitler regime — the aristocratic Wehrmacht officers who plotted against the dictator spring to mind — Reck wasn’t involved in the Resistance. His path was, instead, that of innere Emigration. His hatred of the regime found its expression not in bombs but in the pages of his Tagebuch.

Though he was not as active as the Wehrmacht plotters, Reck was far more foresightful. Many of those who later took a stance against Hitler were happy enough to follow him into war, and remained happy during the early days of easy victories. But Reck knew, years before the war even began, that the nazis would be Germany’s downfall.

They were his, too. Late in the war he was denounced for having ‘insulted the military’ and sent to Dachau. There he died, only a couple of months before Hitler did. To this day nobody is sure whether he died of disease or was murdered outright.

It’s a little astonishing that Reck’s Tagebuch is so hard to find. It is long out of print, and I tried over several years, sporadically and without luck, to find it through used-book dealers. Recently, though, I found it on Amazon.de. Amazon itself didn’t stock it, but offered a link to a dealer who did.

In any event, if Reck’s diary tells me anything interesting about life in nazi Germany, I will share it with you here.

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