Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
The Seventh Cross
by Anna Seghers, translated from the German by Margot Bettauer Dembo, afterword by Thomas von Steinaecker
An NYRB Classics Original
The Seventh Cross is one of the most powerful, popular, and influential novels of the twentieth century, a hair raising thriller that helped to alert the world to the grim realities of Nazi Germany and that is no less exciting today than when it was first published in 1942. Seven political prisoners escape from a Nazi prison camp; in response, the camp commandant has seven trees harshly pruned to resemble seven crosses: they will serve as posts to torture each recaptured prisoner, and capture, of course, is certain. Meanwhile, the escapees split up and flee across Germany, looking for such help and shelter as they can find along the way, determined to reach the border. Anna Seghers’s novel is not only a supremely suspenseful story of flight and pursuit but also a detailed portrait of a nation in the grip and thrall of totalitarianism.
Margot Bettauer Dembo’s expert new translation makes the complete text of this great political novel available in English for the first time.
The translation of this work was supported by a grant from the Goethe-Institut.
Anna Seghers was an admirable woman in many ways, but above all she was a remarkable humanist: she became a model of cultural resistance and ideological struggle who cut across borders, and who, still today, thanks to her work, transcends time and lives on in our memory. Anna Seghers’ novels don’t only recount stories of terror, escape, and oppression; they are a call to compassion and solidarity.
Not only an important novel, but an important historical document. This new, unabridged translation is a genuine publishing event.
—Joseph Kanon, author of The Good German and Leaving Berlin
As a demonstration of what life under Nazism does to the mind and soul of many typical Germans, The Seventh Cross is a searching, brilliantly skillful job.
—Orville Prescott, The New York Times
Seghers taught my generation and anyone who had an ear to listen after that not-to-be-forgotten war to distinguish right from wrong. The Seventh Cross shaped me; it sharpened my vision.
A masterpiece. Written in the midst of terror, but with such clarity, such acuity; Seghers is a writer of rare insight.
—Rachel Seiffert, author of A Boy in Winter
A fascinating insight into life in pre-war Nazi Germany just as the horrors of the Nazi regime were beginning to unfold. This is an important novel, as much for its picture of German society as for its insight into the psyche of ordinary people confronting their personal fears and mixed loyalties while an escapee from an early concentration camp attempts to avoid recapture.
—Simon Mawer, author of The Glass Room