Resistance: A Perspective on Larson’s ‘Love and Terror in Berlin’

It’s dark, below 10 degrees, and I’m starting to feel comfortable in this DC neighborhood, surrounded by fellow commuters. It helps that I made this exact trek a few nights ago. The sidewalks near the Dupont metro are mostly clear of snow and ice, and even though I make no eye contact with passersby, I feel a sense of solidarity with this community of young professionals.

We’re just trying to get by, doing the best that we can, and hope that we don’t fall.

But halfway on my way to meeting my friend for dinner on 14th Street, I come across a stretch of ice. My mind is on this book I just finished on the train, “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” by Erik Larson that provides a third-person account of the U.S. ambassador William Dodd’s stay in Berlin prior to World War II.

As I later told my friend at dinner, the book captures the building momentum of a culture that preceded one of the greatest atrocities in history. Even though I tend to be a bit of a history buff, especially around that time period, I was still amazed by the tension and struggles that plagued Berlin years before events like Kristallnacht even happened. And the world let it happen. Continue reading