“When Hitler came to power on 30 January 1933 my friend Ruth and her friends fled into exile. From there, they tried to bring him down. This is their story, or what I have made of it.”
After Funder met the straight talking Ruth Blatt in Sydney they became close friends. Well steeped in German literature, Funder discovered that there was still much she did not know. She was unaware that 55,000 Germans fled Germany in the six months after Hitler came to power. Even then the Gestapo was organised and active in their pursuit of those who opposed Hitler.
Based on real people and events Anna Funder’s All That I Am chronicles the events surrounding Hitler’s rise to power during 1933-35.
Left wing activists Ernst Toller, the eminent playwright, Dora Fabian, Ruth Blatt and her husband Hans Wesemann were among those who fled from Germany in 1933. They arrived in London fired up to continue their work against the Nazi regime. Dora, Ruth and Hans settled in a flat in Great Ormond Street while Toller preferred the north London suburb of Hampstead. They remained members of the Socialist Workers' Party dedicating their lives to bringing down the Nazi regime.
Funder uses two narrators throughout the novel. Toller narrates his story from New York where he has taken refuge as war breaks out in 1939. Blatt narrates her version of events, as she lies close to death in present day Sydney.
Fact and fiction are inextricably bound together in this novel. Funder claims Ruth Blatt’s story is true, told to her by Ruth. After hearing Ruth’s story Funder researched the Socialist Workers’ Party discovering the story of the courageous Dora Fabian. Ruth Blatt never spoke of Dora Fabian.
Full of intrigue and betrayal, courage and fear, All that I Am is a fascinating read.
By Sophia WhitfieldOn June 21, 2013
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