Quarterly Conversation reviews Stig Dagerman's GERMAN AUTUMN
Stig Dagerman, the wunderkind of Swedish literature in the ten years before he committed suicide in 1954, was on assignment from the Swedish newspaper Expressen when he traveled around Germany in the autumn of 1946. These objective dispatches, now published in the U.S. for the first time, are laden with the misery he encounters on his trip through Germany occupied by the Western Allies (not surprisingly, he didn’t visit the Soviet zone). Having spent the war in ostensibly neutral Sweden, Dagerman rejects any notion of the survivors suffering deservingly, writing instead with equal empathy and perceptiveness of hard-headed Nazi officials and ordinary women and children. In his foreword, Mark Kurlansky ascribes Dagerman’s candor to his ability to “show compassion,” which, “required a considerable amount of courage” in Germany in 1946.