”Der Alpdruck” (”Nightmare in Berlin”)

“Der Alpdruck’ by Hans Fallada

√ Title: ”Der Alpdruck” (”Nightmare in Berlin”)

√ Author: Rudolf Ditzen known as Hans Fallada (1893 – 1947), Translated by Allan Blunden

√ Genre: Novel

√ Published: 1947

√ Difficulty: ♦♦♦◊◊ (B2)

√ Interesting facts: The translation of this work was supported by a grant from the Goethe-Institut which is funded by the German Ministry of the Arts.

What it is about: Story of married couple contending with a devastated postwar Berlin follows runaway success of Alone in Berlin.

Late April, 1945. The war is over, yet Dr Doll, a loner and ‘moderate pessimist’, lives in constant fear. By night, he is haunted by nightmarish images of the bombsite in which he is trapped — he, and the rest of Germany. More than anything, he wishes to vanquish the demon of collective guilt, but he is unable to right any wrongs, especially in his position as mayor of a small town in north-east Germany that has been occupied by the Red Army.

Dr Doll flees for Berlin, where he finds escape in a morphine addiction: each dose is a ‘small death’. He tries to make his way in the chaos of a city torn apart by war, accompanied by his young wife, who shares his addiction. Fighting to save two lives, he tentatively begins to believe in a better future.

(Source: Good Reads )


  • ”Allan Blunden’s brilliant translation conveys the turmoil of a strange, extraordinary novel about a post-war Germany faced with the evils perpetrated under the Nazis” – Irish Timeshans
  • ”There is little by way of reprieve; the mood never lightens and Dr Doll’s depression rarely lifts. However, there is lightness to be found in Hans Fallada’s descriptions (a Nazi “sat on his hoard like a malevolent little hamster”) which, sensitively translated by Allan Blunden, make the book enjoyable. Nightmare in Berlin is an unfalteringly honest and often terrifying insight into the difficulties faced and inner conflicts fought by Germans after the war.” – The Guardian


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