A rediscovered German classic novel from 1942, The Seventh Cross is both a gripping escape story and a powerful novel of resistance.
'At once a suspenseful manhunt story and a knowing portrait of the perils of ordinary life in Hitler's Germany, The Seventh Cross is not only an important novel, but an important historical document.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
'It was [Seghers] who 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' Gunter Grass '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
Seven prisoners escape from Westhofen concentration camp. Seven crosses are erected in the grounds and the commandant vows to capture the fugitives within a week. Six men are caught quickly, but George Heisler slips through his pursuers' fingers and it becomes a matter of pride to track him down, at whatever cost.
Who can George trust? Who will betray him? The years of fear have changed those he knew best: his brother is now an SS officer; his lover turns him away. Hunted, injured and desperate, time is running out for George, and whoever is caught aiding his escape will pay with their life.
The Seventh Cross powerfully documents the insidious rise of a fascist regime - the seething paranoia, the sudden arrests, the silence and fear.
'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' Simon Mawer, author of The Glass Room
The Seventh Cross was written by one of the most important German writers of the twentieth century. Her aim was to write, 'A tale that makes it possible to get to know the many layers of fascist Germany through the fortunes of a single man.' She had four copies of the manuscript: one was destroyed in an air raid; a friend lost the second copy while fleeing the Nazis; another was found by the Gestapo; only the fourth copy survived, which, fortunately, she sent to her publisher in America just before she escaped Nazi-occupied France. Published in 1942, The Seventh Cross was an immediate bestseller and was the basis for an MGM film starring Spencer Tracy in 1944. It has been translated into more than 40 languages
It was [Seghers] who 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
The material that this book is made from is long-lasting and indestructible; very few things on earth can be compared to it. It is known as justice
Simply put, a novel against dictatorship
ANNA SEGHERS (1900-1983) was born Netty Reiling in Mainz, Germany, into a Jewish family. In 1924 she received a doctorate in Art History from the University of Heidelberg, and in the same year her first story, written under the name Antje Seghers, was published. During this time, she came into contact with many left-wing intellectuals, including her husband, a Hungarian economist, and began writing in earnest. By the end of 1928, Anna Seghers had joined the Communist Party, given birth to two children and was awarded the Kleist Prize for her first novel, The Revolt of the Fishermen of St Barbara.
As Jew, a Communist and a revolutionary writer, she was blacklisted in Nazi Germany and left for France in 1933 with her family. After the Nazi invasion in 1940, she was forced to flee again and, with the aid of Varian Fry, she and her family sailed from Marseilles to Mexico on a ship that included Victor Serge, Andre Breton and Claude Levi-Strauss among its passengers.
Seghers gained international recognition with The Seventh Cross (1942), which became a bestseller. It was the basis for the 1944 MGM film starring Spencer Tracy and was one of the only depictions of Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War in either literature or film. It has been translated into more than thirty languages.
After the war Seghers moved to East Berlin, where she became a prominent figure of East German letters, actively championing the work of younger writers from her position as president of the Writers Union. Among Seghers' internationally acclaimed works are The Seventh Cross; Transit (1944); Excursion of the Dead Girls (1945); The Dead Stay Young (1949); and the story collection Benito's Blue (1973).