Walter Kempowski: The Echo Sounder. Knaus Verlag (Hardcover, Literary Fiction)

The Echo Sounder

Part IV
A Farewell to '45
A Collective Diary

Original Title: Das Echolot - Abgesang '45 - Ein kollektives Tagebuch - (4. Teil des Echolot-Projekts)

original edition

Hardcover, linen, 496 pages, 14.4 x 21.6 cm, 5.7 x 8.5 in., 15 b/w illustrations
ISBN: 978-3-8135-0249-7
€ 49.90 [D] | € 51.30 [A] | CHF 68.00 * (* rec. retail price) recommended retail price

Publishing House: Knaus

Date of publication: February 11, 2005
This title is available.



Rights sold to: The Netherlands (Thomas Rap), UK (Granta)

Walter  Kempowski - The Echo Sounder


Long before the first ‘The Echo Sounder’ appeared in 1993, Walter Kempowski made a note in his diary: ‘The year 1945 has to be at the centre of The Echo Sounder; it has to be the mouth of the funnel that everything is advancing towards.’ In spring 2005, the sixtieth anniversary of German capitulation, this unparalleled venture – which takes up ten volumes and around 8000 pages in total – finally reaches its conclusion.

It’s the highly dramatic final days of Hitler’s Germany that Kempowski unfolds before the reader like a film in this oppressive, urgent way. The reader becomes to some extent an eye witness of Hitler’s last birthday on 20 April 1945, an event which took place in the ghostly atmosphere of the Fuehrer’s Berlin bunker whilst Red Army grenades were already landing outside the Hotel Adlon on Unter den Linden, and Goebbels, blind as ever, was making a last-ditch effort on the radio to appeal to ‘Germanic loyalty.’ But the downfall couldn’t be prevented: on 25 April, the Red Army and the US army met in Torgau an der Elbe. The circle had closed.

Walter Kempowski’s book is simultaneously a dance of death and an apocalypse. Victims and perpetrators alike get their say in his collage, as do prominent people and nameless ones, soldiers from both the Wehrmacht and Red Army, supporters and resisters, emigrés and survivors of concentration camps. This, the final The Echo Sounder, is a shocking testimony to downfall and unimaginable hardship; it reveals political blindness, fanatical refusal to see reason, pathological hatred, and false pathos; desperation and mortal fear; hopes and illusions that were linked to the end of a barbaric regime.


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