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History

“The Diaries of Friedrich Kellner”

A touching story of courage in the midst of Nazi Germany

Photo of Friedrich Kellner in 1934. Scanned from family album by Professor Robert Scott Kellner

I am reading the recently published second and final volume of the biography of Adolf Hitler by German historian Volker Ullrich. It is entitled Hitler: Downfall: 1939-1945. Roger Abrams, writing in the New York Journal of Books, calls Ullrich’s work “a remarkable treatise on the malevolence of power in modern times.”

Early in the volume, Ullrich commends the diaries of Friedrich Kellner. Kellner was a court official in the western German town of Laubach who had no special access to wartime information. Kellner was repulsed by the Nazi regime and kept detailed diaries based on what he read in the German press and by talking to people. He hoped his diaries would be a warning to future generations about blind faith.

Ullrich explains that Kellner’s diaries “show that it was entirely possible for normal people in small-town Germany to see through the lies of Nazi propaganda and learn of things like the ‘euthanasia’ murders of patients in psychiatric institutions and the mass executions carried out in occupied parts of eastern Europe.”

The Kellner diaries were published in 2011 in German and now are available in English. The diaries are also the subject of a touching 2007 TV documentary on YouTube created by Kellner’s American grandson.


Sources:

Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 6). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

One reply on ““The Diaries of Friedrich Kellner””

I greatly appreciate your interest in the diary. Friedrich Kellner was a wise and courageous man, and I’m glad his writings are now available to the public. Volker Ullrich’s use of the diary in his Hitler book is gratifying. I’m glad you came across it. Thank you. Robert Scott Kellner

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