ANNA SEGHERS (1900-1983) was one of the most important German writers of the twentieth century. Born Netty Reiling in Mainz, and of Jewish descent, she received a doctorate in art history at the University of Heidelberg, joined the Communist Party of Germany in 1928, and soon began to publish novels and short stories. After the 1940 Nazi invasion of France, Seghers, her husband and their two children sailed from Marseilles to Mexico. She gained international recognition with The Seventh Cross (1939), which became an international 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. After the war she returned to Germany, settling in East Berlin.
The Seventh Cross is multi-layered, compelling and so human, wise and compassionate. We are taken inside different characters' heads to see the human side of monstrous people and the monster within the most humane. We see the poignancy of ordinariness in times of crisis and horror. Through the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary times we get to see how fascism can take hold and that is an important thing for us to grasp right now! -- Virginia Baily, author of 'Early One Morning' 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 skilful job -- Orville Prescott * The New York Times * 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' 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of the perils of ordinary life in Hitler's Germany, The Seventh Cross is not only an important novel, but an important historical document.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 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 -- Christa Wolf Simply put, a novel against dictatorship -- Marcel Reich-Ranicki