Bodley Head to publish 'unsparing' memoir of youth in Nazi Germany

Bodley Head to publish 'unsparing' memoir of youth in Nazi Germany

The Bodley Head has acquired The Broken House, Horst Krüger's "astonishing" literary memoir of youth in Nazi Germany, never before published in the UK. 

Krüger was a German journalist, novelist and travel writer. His memoir was first published in Germany in 1966 but went out of print in the 1980s before being reissued by German publisher Schöffling in 2019. 

Jörg Hensgen, editorial director at The Bodley Head, acquired world English rights from Schöffling, with publication slated for 17th June 2021. 

The memoir will be translated by Shaun Whiteside and a new cover has been designed by Vintage creative director Suzanne Dean, who used a picture of a German schoolboy taken in the early 1930s. She commented: "I felt the boy resonated with the text, and he takes centre stage in the design. The typography took inspiration from German print and design of the period."

Hensgen said: "It is one of the most powerful memoirs I have ever read, not just of the Nazi period but of any time in history." He compared the book to John Williams’ Stoner and Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin, saying: "Like Stoner, it is a forgotten literary masterpiece; like Alone in Berlin, it is a poignant and unforgettable portrait of the lives of ordinary people under Hitler."

Hilary Mantel, author of the Wolf Hall trilogy, offered praise for the memoir: "I often think that the key to a successful memoir is to find the right place to stand, the effective distance. Writing in the 60s, Kruger had enough clarity to see where his story fitted into the big picture, but he can still make the reader feel the passion, danger and grief. It is an unsparing, honest and insightful memoir, that shows how private failure becomes national disaster. There is no mercy from the author and no false hope, but he fills a gap in the historical imagination."