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The New York Review of Books: Stig Dagerman

The New York Review of Books

Dagerman_German coverWhile covering postwar Germany as a foreign correspondent for the Swedish newspaper Expressen in the fall of 1946, the Swedish writer Stig Dagerman (1923–1954) was advised by a fellow correspondent in the Allied Press Corps “with the best of intentions and for the sake of objectivity to read German newspapers instead of looking at German dwellings or sniffing in German cooking-pots.” The implicit criticism stemmed from Dagerman’s ambition to chronicle the supposedly “indescribable” realities of life for ordinary Germans in a land left in ruins—at a time when world sympathies for the German people were at an all-time low and the Press Corps and all the world were focused on the drama and expiation of the Nuremburg war crimes trials.

Dagerman sought instead to chronicle as nakedly as possible the suffering of all the remaining victims of the war and its ravages with an eye unaffected by the collective need to assign guilt for the atrocities of a horrendous Nazi Regime. What followed were a series of articles, later collected in the book German Autumn, that examined the very nature of human suffering and the moral complexities of justice.

Read the full article and excerpt.