Ingeborg Bachmann

War Diary - With Letters from Jack Hamesh to Ingeborg Bachmann

Edited and Afterword by Hans Höller
(German title: Kriegstagebuch)
ca. 80 pages
Ingeborg Bachmann
Foto: Ingeborg Bachmann
© von Mangoldt

Ingeborg Bachmann, born on June 25th 1926, died on October 17th, 1973 in Rome.

»... the most intelligent and important woman writer our land has produced this century.«

Thomas Bernhard

»A brillant intellectual.«

Heinrich Böll

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»I’ve taken a chair out to the garden and am reading. I’ve resolved to keep on reading if the bombs come.«


The present volume for the first time compiles the war diary Ingeborg Bachmann kept from late summer 1944 to June 1945, as well as the surviving letters from Jack Hamesh – a unique document of dialogue between the children of the victims and the perpetrators.

»This is the most beautiful summer of my life, and even if I live to be a hundred – this spring and summer will remain the most beautiful. Everybody keeps saying that peace isn’t noticeably different from what came before, but as far as I’m concerned it’s peace, peace!« The eighteen-year-old Ingeborg Bachmann recorded these sentiments in 1945, directly after the end of the war. Her words resonate with the revul-sion she felt for the National Socialist ideology, with her sense of relief at the end of Nazi rule. And there is an additional reason for the note of euphoria: the diarist has fallen in love with Jack Hamesh, an occupying British soldier. A Jew who escaped from Vienna in 1938, he begins by questioning the young woman as to membership in the German girls’ organization Bund deutscher Mädel; they soon become intimate friends. All the same, Hamesh emigrated to what was then Palestine in the spring of 1946.


»... the most intelligent and important woman writer our land has produced this century.« Thomas Bernhard

»A minor sensation that will make literary history. Thanks to the excellent critical commentary, we gain a sense of a period in history and in Bachmann’s life that reached deep into her later work. […] What makes these diary entries so special is […] the detail of the resistance described, the exhilaration of unexpected peace, the joy of freedom.« DIE ZEIT

»If this diary tells us anything, it is about her thirst for knowledge and her strong literary ambition – this is the real driving force.« Helmut Böttiger, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»[T]he feelings and thoughts of a sensitive young woman, her dreams and visions of the future, together with the hopes and fears of a Holocaust survivor, make for a moving record of the immediate post-war years.« WDR5 »There are very moving passages in what the young Bachmann entrusts to her diary. Passages that speak of a twofold liberation: freedom from a regime that did not accept her and against which she rebelled, and a personal, inner freedom from the constraints of family, from narrowness of the mind.« Neue Westfälische

»[T]hese letters are related to the greatest German-language woman writer and are worthy of publication for that reason alone. They convey the deeply disruptive effect on a young man being brutally torn away from his home, his childhood, his family, his culture. He is all alone with this trauma, and despite his brief encounter with Ingeborg Bachmann, he remains alone with it. […] The young Ingeborg Bachmann’s diary, despite its slim volume, is indispensable reading for anyone who loves this author. In it we meet a young woman who feels as if she has woken from a nightmare and is gradually beginning to understand what life and freedom can hold in store.« Tages-Anzeiger

»A real find, full of early literary promise, and deeply moving.« Nürnberger Zeitung

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Die Radiofamilie/The Radio Familiy (2011)

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Herzzeit/Herzzeit (2008)

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Malina/Malina (1971)

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USA & Canada (New Directions), UK & Commonwealth (Penguin), Spanish world rights (Akal), Russia (AST), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Estaçao Liberdade), Portuguese rights (Antígona), France (Seuil), Italy (Adelphi), Netherlands (Van Gennep), Denmark (Grif), Sweden (Ellerströms), Korea (Minumsa), Japan (Shobunsha), Poland (A5, Polish audio book: Mala Litera), Hungary (Jelenkor), Romania (Humanitas), Serbia (Kontrast), Turkey (Yapi Kredi), Macedonia (Tri), Albania (Saras), Ukraine (Klasyka), Georgia (Karchkhadze Publishing), Israel (Hakibutz Hameuchad / Sifriat Poalim); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Catalan rights (Edicions 62), Norway (Bokvennen), Finnland (Weilin & Göös), Czech Republic (Mlada fronta), Slovakia (Slovensky Spisovatel), Bulgaria (Na Otetschestwenia Front), Lithuania (Lithuanian Writers Union), Slovenia (Pomuska Zalozba), Greece (Agrostis)

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