Translated from German by Robert Kee
Introduction by Sinclair McKay
Afterword by Chris Maloney
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‘Always amusing and often frightening.’ – Boston Globe
“Who can tell exactly where the difference lies between those of us who imagine ourselves sane and those we call insane?”
As Robert Vossmenge tries to practice psychiatry in Germany in the early 1930s, he finds himself at odds with his profession as it increasingly falls under the influence of the Nazi regime and its aim to rid German society of those it considers 'undesirables'.
Vossmenge tries to stay out of trouble by keeping a low profile. But through his friendship with a Lutheran pastor, he begins to question his assumptions about what constitutes sanity in a world where the people in charge seem to be insane.
Though he quietly wages a one-man campaign against the cruelty of the military mindset while serving as a Luftwaffe doctor, Vossmenge is ultimately forced to choose between survival and standing for his beliefs. The Sanity Inspectors is a gripping account of the challenge of trying to be a good man in the midst of evil.
Called ‘Ingeniously constructed’ and ‘astute, lively and committed’ when first published in English, The Sanity Inspectors anticipates the black humour and absurdity of Catch-22. Vossmenge’s crisis of conscience is illuminated by a running correspondence with a Lutheran pastor who tries to alert him to the moral consequences of his choices and, chillingly, deals with issues around authoritarianism and protest resurgently relevant today.
What is normal in an abnormal world? A forgotten classic concerning the plight of a reasonable man struggling against unreasonable forces that raises questions still relevant in today’s mad and maddening world of conspiracy theories, disinformation, deep fakes and the breakdown of reality.
Friedrich Deich was the pseudonym of Dr Friedrich Weeren, who was born in 1907 and studied medicine at the Universities of Bonn, Freiburg and Munich. Trained as a psychiatrist, in 1938 he left Germany to become a researcher in Africa. He served as a psychiatrist in the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, then worked as an influential medical journalist in Germany.
Sinclair McKay is the bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bletchley Park. His most recent book is Berlin: Life and Loss in the City That Shaped the Century.
Chris Maloney is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and GP. His recent books are Seeking Asylum and Mental Health (2022) and Intelligent Kindness: Rehabilitating the Welfare State (2020).
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