"And in a bar: Zada se zdvorile, by se nehovorilo o politice – Customers are kindly requested not to talk politics."

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

"It’s called Like a Man, and it’s by a certain David Chacko. The title is supposed to be a rough translation of the Greek word anthropoid."

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

"The dead are dead, and it makes no difference to them whether I pay homage to their deeds. But for us, the living, it does mean something. Memory is of no use to the remembered, only to those who remember. We build ourselves with memory and console ourselves with memory."

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

Tags: History Memory

"Nor is it a good idea to mention Commodus or Caligula, both of whom fought in the arena against gladiators who knew perfectly well that it was not in their interests to win against the emperor."

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

"It’s true that in the devilish duo he forms with Himmler, he is thought to be the brains (‘HHhH,’ they say in the SS: Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich – Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich), but he is still only the right-hand man, the subordinate, the number two."

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

"As usual, I think of Oscar Wilde. It’s the same old story: ‘I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.’"

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

"But at this point the mission is complicated by the Sonderfahndungliste GB, the special search list for Great Britain better known as the Black Book. It is a list of some 2,300 people to be found, arrested, and delivered to the Gestapo as quickly as possible. At the head of the list, unsurprisingly, is Churchill. Among the other politicians, British and foreign, are Beneš and Masaryk, representatives of the Czech government-in-exile. So far, so logical. But the list also contains the names of writers such as H. G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, and Rebecca West. Freud is there, despite having died in 1939. And Baden-Powell, too, the founder of the Scout movement."

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

"CHURCHILL’S WORDS, SPOKEN in the House of Commons, are distinguished by their greater perceptiveness and, as always, their grandeur: ‘We have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat.’ (Churchill has to stop speaking for some time while he waits for the whistles and shouts of protest to die down.) ‘We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude. The road down the Danube Valley to the Black Sea has been opened. All those Danubian countries will, one after another, be drawn into this vast system of power politics radiating from Berlin. And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning …’ Not long afterward, Churchill sums it all up with his immortal phrase: ‘You had to choose between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour. You will have war.’"

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

"AT HIS HOTEL in Munich, a journalist asks him: ‘But, Mr Ambassador, in the end this agreement must be a great relief, no?’ Silence. Then the Foreign Office secretary sighs: ‘Oh yes, a relief … like when you do it in your pants!’"

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

"The British, unpleasantly surprised by the French attitude, nevertheless fall into line with their ally’s position. With this small qualification: that they will under no circumstances guarantee a military intervention. Chamberlain makes sure that his diplomats do not promise more than is contained in this muddled phrase: ‘In the event of a European conflict, it is impossible to know if Great Britain will take part.’ Not the most decisive of statements."

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

"Add to this a rather childish megalomania. Having got wind that the head of the British intelligence service calls himself M (yes, like in James Bond), he decides in all seriousness to call himself H. It is in some ways his first proper alias, before the great era of nicknames: ‘the Hangman’, ‘the Butcher’, ‘the Blond Beast’, and – this one given by Adolf Hitler himself – ‘the Man with the Iron Heart’. I don’t believe that ‘H’ ever became a popular nickname among his men (they preferred the more graphic ‘Blond Beast’). There were too many eminent Hs above him, creating the risk of some regrettable mix-ups: Heydrich, Himmler, Hitler … he must have dropped this childish affectation himself, out of prudence. But H for Holocaust … that might very well have worked as the title of a bad biography."

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

"Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt wrote a book, La Part de l’autre, in which he imagines that Hitler passes his art diploma. From that instant, his destiny and the world’s are completely altered: he has a string of affairs, becomes a promiscuous playboy, marries a Jewish woman with whom he has two or three children, joins the Surrealists in Paris, and ends up a famous painter. At the same time, Germany fights a small war with Poland and that’s all. No Second World War, no genocide, and a Hitler who is nothing like the real one."

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

"THE FIRST OF May, in Germany as in France, is Labour Day, the origins of which go back to a decision of the Second International, made in tribute to a great workers’ strike that took place on 1 May in Chicago in 1886."

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

"At this point in his life, it is still possible to mock (Heydrich) without risking death. But it is during this delicate period of childhood that one learns resentment."

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet

"THERE IS NOTHING more artificial in a historical narrative than this kind of dialogue – reconstructed from more or less firsthand accounts with the idea of breathing life into the dead pages of history. In stylistic terms, this process has certain similarities with hypotyposis, which means making a scene so lifelike that it gives the reader the impression he can see it with his own eyes. When a writer tries to bring a conversation back to life in this way, the result is often contrived and the effect the opposite of that desired: you see too clearly the strings controlling the puppets, you hear too distinctly the author’s voice in the mouths of these historical figures."

— “HHhH”, Laurent Binet