In 1947 the highly-controversial East German author Hans Fallada published Jeder Stirbt für sich Allein (Every Man Dies Alone), a novel about an ordinary married couple who, after their son was killed in action in 1942, distributed dissident postcards and leaflets in post-boxes and stairwells around their home district in Berlin. After betrayal, they were arrested by the Gestapo and executed in 1943.

Steeped in Berliner dialect, and populated with vivid characters from the city’s underbelly, alcoholic Nazi veterans and ordinary working-class people, the novel struck a chord in post-WWII Germany. Ultimately, it was the tale of futile resistance by a brave and reckless couple. The original German version of the book sold well and was filmed for television in both East and West Germany.


An English version of the story in 2016 entitled Alone in Berlin, starring Emma Thompson did not receive many good critical reviews.