Friday, July 27, 2007

THE END: HAMBURG 1943 by Hans Erich Nossack

Translated from the German by Joel Agee, this eye-witness account is a little piece of perfection about the Allied bombing of Hamburg from a German survivor's perspective, a meditation on war and hope. The following two excerpts will give you a sense of it:

Now all that was left of the steeple was a pitifully rotted and blackened stump. It had broken off right above the clock, the hour hand was pointing to shortly after one; but was it noon or midnight? And on what date? Above the clock you could still see the word "Gloria" in gold letters. The copper of the roof had draped itself over the nave like a shroud. Only way in back , on a remnant of the sacristy, the golden saint still stood with his steering wheel, pointing a finger into the distance.


So I wrapped a wet blanket around my head and crawled out. Then we went through the fire. Some people keeled over in the street then. We couldn't take care of them. ~ November 1943

No comments: