Friedrich Reck (1884–1945) was born Friedrich Percyval Reck in Masuria, East Prussia, the son of a prosperous conservative politician and landowner. Having initially complied with his father’s wishes to pursue a military career, he left the army to begin medical studies. By the beginning of the First World War, for which he was ruled unfit to serve, he had begun work as a full-time theater critic and travel writer. In the following decades he became a well-known figure in Munich society, the author of both literary historical novels and popular entertainments including Bomben auf Monte Carlo (Bombs on Monte Carlo), a best-selling comic novella and the basis of a hit musical film starring Peter Lorre. In October 1944 he was arrested for the first time; in December of the same year the Gestapo returned to detain him again; in January 1945 he arrived at the Dachau concentration camp, where he was to die shortly after.
This astonishing dispatch from Nazi Germany was not published until after the author’s death at Dachau. In it we see a man awakening into political consciousness as he watches his country succumb to its murderous impulses. “One of the most important documents of the Hitler period”—Hannah Arendt