October 1, 1939
Exactly one month since England’s declaration of war. The unimaginable has happened – and of course it’s utterly different from anything we had pictured. One looks ahead to a war and imagines it as a single, final, absolute event. It is nothing of the kind. War is a condition, like peace, with good and bad days, moods of optimism and despair. The crisis of August was actually for us in Santa Monica worse than the month which has followed the outbreak. I see Frau Frank’s face, contorted with hate. I hear Gottfried Reinhardt’s yelling, Klaus Mann chattering like an enraged monkey. Berthold snorting like a war-horse. The night war was declared, Vernon and I sat listening to our radio at home. It was as though neither of us were really present. The living room seemed absolutely empty – with nothing in it but the announcer’s voice. No fear, no despair, no sensation at all. Just hollowness.
From: Christopher Isherwood, vol. 1: diaries 1939-60, edited and introduced by k. bucknell, London, Methuen, 1996.