Le uniformi militari italiane by Massimo & Crociani, Piero & Fiorentino, Massimo Brandani

By Massimo & Crociani, Piero & Fiorentino, Massimo Brandani

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RANDOM HOUSE and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc. This work was originally published in German by Hanser as Luftkrieg und Literatur in 1999 and in slightly different form. Copyright © 1999 by W. G. Sebald. English translation published by arrangement with Hamish Hamilton, a publishing division of Penguin Books Ltd. Grateful acknowledgment is made to Indiana University Press for permission to reprint excerpts from At the Mind’s Limits by Jean Améry, translated by Sidney Rosenfeld and Stella P.

However, the rather unreal effect of the eyewitness reports also derives from the clichés to which they often resorted. The reality of total destruction, incomprehensible in its extremity, pales when described in such stereotypical phrases as “a prey to the flames,” “that fateful night,” “all hell was let loose,” “we were staring into the inferno,” “the dreadful fate of the cities of Germany,” and so on and so forth. Their function is to cover up and neutralize experiences beyond our ability to comprehend.

33 Janet Flanner, writing for The New Yorker, made similar observations in Cologne, which, as she said in one of her reports, lay “by its riverbanks … recumbent, without beauty, shapeless in the rubble and loneliness of complete physical defeat. ”34 That silence, that reserve, that instinctive looking away are the reasons why we know so little of what the Germans thought and observed in the five years between 1942 and 1947. The ruins where they lived were the terra incognita of the war. Solly Zuckerman may have had a premonition of this deficiency.

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