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Anna Haag and her Secret Diary of the Second World War

A Democratic German Feminist’s Response to the Catastrophe of National Socialism


Edward Timms

How was it possible for a well-educated nation to support a regime that made it a crime to think for yourself? This was the key question for the Stuttgart-based author Anna Haag (1888–1982), the democratic feminist whose anti-Nazi diaries are analysed in this book. Like Victor Klemperer, she deconstructed German political propaganda day by day, giving her critique a gendered focus by challenging the ethos of masculinity that sustained the Nazi regime. This pioneering study interprets her diaries, secretly written in twenty notebooks now preserved at the Stuttgart City Archive, as a fascinating source for the study of everyday life in the Third Reich. The opening sections sketch the paradigms that shaped Haag’s creativity, analysing the impact of the First World War and the feminist and pacifist commitments that influenced her literary and journalistic writings. Extensive quotations from the diaries are provided, with English translations, to illustrate her responses to the cataclysms that followed the rise of Hitler, from the military conquests and Jewish deportations to the devastation of strategic bombing. The book concludes with a chapter that traces the links between Haag’s critique of military tyranny and her contribution to post-war reconstruction.
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Chapter 2: Fighting for the Fatherland: Sacrifice, Resilience and Loyalty Betrayed


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Fighting for the Fatherland: Sacrifice, Resilience and Loyalty Betrayed

In June 1914 the Haags were holidaying with their daughter in Württemberg when the news broke of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Anna felt no cause for alarm until she visited her older brothers, Eugen and Emil, and discovered that as reserve officers they were dusting off their uniforms. Their younger brother Adolf was also soon to be fighting for the Fatherland. Amid the patriotic fervour Anna’s anxieties about her husband’s future had to be concealed. Instructions arrived from the Foreign Office in Berlin that they were to return post-haste to Bucharest. The strategy was to keep Romania within the German sphere of influence, but the telegram arrived too late, for Albert was already undergoing military training in Ulm. His regiment was dispatched to the Western front, where Private Haag was among the first to experience the horrors of mechanized warfare. It was the screams of dying soldiers that most deeply imprinted themselves on his mind, not the short-lived military advances. Meanwhile Anna remained at her mother’s house, giving birth in spring 1915 to Sigrid, their second child. She soon began to learn the lessons of war, for she was at her mother’s side when a telegram arrived with the news that Emil had been killed in action.1

Anna was acutely aware that the telegram might have been addressed to her, announcing Albert’s death, but her...

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