Sunday 22 August 2021

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days by Rebecca Donner

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler

 All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler by Rebecca Donner

This work suffers a little from a lack of identity; it reads like a novel but not quite. It certainly has a lot of information packed into it and it feels also like a nonfiction book. It is in fact a true story. Rebecca Donner has done her research well. However, there is so much materiel in there that we don't quite get to know the main characters well enough. A dreamy present tense narrative gives it some immediacy. And we do, after all, feel some empathy for Mildred and Don to whom the book is dedicated. 

This is another long book about the German resistance.  It is based on the research that Donner did into the topic and in particular about Mildred Harnack and how she worked with the Circle, a resistance groups, to try to overthrow the Nazi regime.  Don Heath, the son of an American diplomat, has private tuition with Mildred. She sends notes to his father hidden in his books. Don always takes a different way through town. If he is stopped, he knows how to answer.

Later, when members of the Circle meet to exchange information in the woods, Don, dressed in a Hitler Youth uniform, sings the Horst Wessel song if danger is near. If all is safe he sings another song.

Mildred marries Arvid Harnack.  He later becomes a spy for the Russians. His position as advisor to the Reich’s’ Ministry of Economics gave him access to information that helped both the German resistance and the Russians. He is in fact a communist and has to destroy his PhD thesis and a book he has finished writing.

Mildred and Arvid are involved with the Berliner Abendgymnasium – a night school for worker s (BAG)   

Both Mildred and Arvid were executed.

In this text we have information about several aspects of German resistance: the Red Orchestra, the Circle and the White Rose.  Donner also gives us insights into the prison regime and details about the guillotine that was used for decapitations. The Valkyrie plot (20 July 1944) is also mentioned but less detail is given about this.

The text includes snippets of actual documents and much detail of archival material is also included at the end of the book. This is a very useful text for the scholars of this time.      


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