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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

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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 10: Matrix of Democracy: The Diarist’s Political Vision

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CHAPTER 10

Matrix of Democracy: The Diarist’s Political Vision

Spring 1945: ‘How the world is transformed!’ Anna exclaimed on 27 March. ‘The Americans have crossed the Rhine near Karlsruhe’. The changes observed nearer home were equally dramatic: ‘The end is approaching, that is proved by the quick-change artists! This is really fabulous! They claim they never approved of the persecution of the Jews. Never trusted Hitler, that house-painter from Braunau! They were consistently opposed to his despicable lust for conquest! They were always outraged by his way of provoking a war! They never celebrated his victories!’1 The panic was understandable. Hitler’s scorched earth order of 19 March had decreed the destruction of German infrastructure, including industrial and food production, to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.2 Although this order was only implemented in part, Anna was apprehensive: ‘Away with the civilian population! Destruction of everything that might have escaped damage from military operations! All food supplies, all books, all machines right down to typewriters: everything is to be destroyed!’3 ← 207 | 208 →

By the first week of April the approaching artillery fire could be heard in Sillenbuch, prompting the Haags to take refuge in the cellar. A detachment of troops from the Tyrol, stationed on the wooded hillside near their home, took to their heels, leaving behind a welcome tub of Sauerkraut. ‘Poor chaps,’ she remarked, ‘they are so fed up with everything! They have only one...

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