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1944 Diary

Hans Keilson; Translated from the German by Damion Searls

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

1944 Diary Download image

ISBN10: 0374537852
ISBN13: 9780374537852

Trade Paperback

256 Pages



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In 2010, FSG published two novels by the German- Jewish writer Hans Keilson: Comedy in a Minor Key—written in 1944 while Keilson was in hiding in the Netherlands, first published in German in 1947, and never before in English—and The Death of the Adversary, begun in 1944 and published in 1959, also in German. With their Chekhovian sympathy for perpetrators and bystanders as well as for victims and resisters, Keilson’s novels were, as Francine Prose said on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, “masterpieces” by “a genius” on her list of “the world’s very greatest writers.” Keilson was one hundred years old, alive and well and able to enjoy his belated fame.

1944 Diary, rediscovered among Keilson’s papers shortly after his death, covers nine months he spent in hiding in Delft with members of a Dutch resistance group, having an affair with a younger Jewish woman in hiding a few blocks away and striving to make a moral and artistic life for himself as the war and the Holocaust raged around him. For readers familiar with Keilson’s novels as well as those new to his work, this diary is an incomparable spiritual X-ray of the mind and heart behind the art: a record of survival and creativity in what Keilson called “the most critical year of my life.”

Offering further insight into Keilson are the sonnets he wrote for his lover, Hanna Sanders, which appear in translation at the back of this volume.


Praise for 1944 Diary

"Here is found [Keilson's] humanity, the tender and daring vulnerability."Peter Lewis, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"An excellent English translation . . . As much an investigation of its author's psychology as a document of its period."—Dorian Stuber, Numero Cinq

“[1944 Diary] is a deeply personal account, made even more remarkable that it was written during World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust . . . A moving and fascinating read.”Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


Hans Keilson’s 1944 Diary, written while he was in hiding from the Nazis in the Dutch city of Delft, is a unique document.

Its most obvious counterpart is the diary of another German-born Jew in the Netherlands...

About the author

Hans Keilson; Translated from the German by Damion Searls

Hans Keilson is the author of Life Goes On, Comedy in a Minor Key, and The Death of the Adversary. Born in Germany in 1909, he published his first novel in 1933. During World War II he joined the Dutch resistance. Later, as a psychotherapist, he pioneered the treatment of war trauma in children. He died in 2011 at the age of 101.

Damion Searls is an author and has also translated thirty books from German, French, Norwegian, and Dutch. He rediscovered the work of Hans Keilson; his 2010 translation of Keilson's Comedy in a Minor Key, published to international acclaim when Keilson was 100, was a New York Times Notable Book and National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist.


Hans Keilson