With an introduction by Nikolaus Wachsmann
An astonishing account (and the only we have) of one woman's experience of labour camps under Stalin and Hitler
This book is a unique account by a survivor of both the Soviet and Nazi concentration camps: its author, Margarete Buber-Neumann, was a loyal member of the German Communist party. From 1935 she and her second husband, Heinz Neumann, were political refugees in Moscow. In April 1937 Neumann was arrested by the secret police, and executed by the end of the year. She herself was arrested in 1938.
In Under Two Dictators Buber-Neumann describes the two years of suffering she endured in the Soviet prisons and in the huge Central-Asian concentration and slave labour camp of Karaganda; her extradition to the Gestapo in 1940 at the time of the Stalin-Hitler Friendship Pact; and her five years of suffering in the Nazi concentration and death camp for women, Ravensbrück. Her story displays extraordinary powers of observation and of memory as she describes her own fate, as well as those of hundreds of fellow prisoners. She explores the behaviour of the guards, supervisors, police and secret police and compares and contrasts Stalin and Hitler's methods of dictatorship and terror.
First published in Swedish, German and English and subsequently translated and published in a further nine languages, Under Two Dictators is harrowing in its depiction of life under the rule of two of the most brutal regimes the western world has ever seen but also an inspiring story of survival, of ideology and of strength and a clarion call for the protection of democracy.
“Margarete Buber-Neumann's memoir, Under Two Dictators, is one of the great classics of the totalitarian age, but with a unique perspective, since she suffered as a prisoner of both Stalin and then Hitler. Moving, powerful and clear-sighted, it is an unforgettable book by a very courageous woman”
“An extraordinary testament. Written in crisp, clear prose, without self-pity, it makes for an electrifying read”
“A dispassionate, even-handed account of totalitarian cruelty”
“She describes clearly the paranoia of Russia during the 1930s and the brutality of the gulags. Her narrative of the last years of second world war in the German camps is horribly moving, in particular her portrayal of the women worked or gassed to death”
“A welcome memoir that still shocks. From this epic document comes a clear picture of violent, but conflicting, prison societies”