War Diary

With Letters From Jack Hamesh

Ingeborg Bachmann

Translated by Mike Mitchell

Edited, with an Afterword, by Hans Höller

Out of Print


4.25 x 7 inches, 104pp October 2011

ISBN : 9780857420169

Rs  350.00 (HB)
$15.00 (HB)
£9.50 (HB)

Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann (1926–73) is recognized as one of the most important novelists, poets and playwrights of post-1945 German literature. As befitting such a versatile writer, her War Diary is not a day-by-day journal but a series of sketches, depicting the last months of the Second World War and the first year of the subsequent British occupation of Austria. These articulate and powerful entrie reveal the 18-year-old’s hatred of both war and Nazism as she avoids the fanatics’ determination to ‘defend Klagenfurt to the last man and the last woman’.


The British occupation leads to her incredible meeting with a British officer, Jack Hamesh, a Jew who fled Vienna for England in 1938. Their relationship is captured here in the emotional and moving letters Hamesh writes to Bachmann when he travels to Israel in 1946. In his correspondence, he describes how, in his new home of Israel, he still suffers from the rootlessness affecting so many of those who lost parents, family, friends and homes in the war.


War Diary provides unusual insight into the formation of Bachmann as a writer and will be cherished by the many fans of her work. But it is also a poignant glimpse into life in Austria in the immediate aftermath of the war, and the reflections of both Bachmann and Hamesh speak to a significant and larger story beyond their personal experiences.
“A minor sensation that will make literary history. Thanks to the excellent critical commentary, we gain a sense of a period in history and in Bachmann’s life that reached deep into her later work. . . . What makes these diary entries so special is . . . the detail of the resistance described, the exhilaration of unexpected peace, the joy of freedom.”—Die Zeit



Ingeborg Bachmann is the author of Darkness SpokenMalina and Simultan, among others.


For many years a lecturer in German with a special interest in Austrian literature, Mike Mitchell has worked as a literary translator since 1995. He was awarded the 1998 Schlegel-Tieck Prize for his translation of Herbert Rosendorfer’s Letters Back to Ancient China. Mitchell has also translated Peter Handke’s Till Day You do Part or A Question of Light and Max Frisch’s An Answer from the Silence, both published by Seagull Books.

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