A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary

A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary

by Anonymous

A New York Times Book Review Editors' ChoiceFor eight weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army, a young woman kept a daily record of life in her apartment building and among its residents.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 4.31
  • Pages: 261
  • Publish Date: July 11th 2006 by Picador USA
  • Isbn10: 0312426119
  • Isbn13: 9780312426118

What People Think about "A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary"

We, lucky ones, born after the war, living in the time of peace, have to summon all our imagination, all human compassion and empathy to be able to catch though a glimpse of that suffering and humiliation that people then experienced. A woman in Berlin, written by anonymous German woman, spans two months of 1945, from April until the 20 of the June and is a chronicle from besieged and defeated city. This woman, being herself, can be obscure daughter of Hecuba , unhappy sister of Cassandra, distant relative of every woman raped and mutilated through and by the war. From some snippets you know she knew French and a bit of Russian, that travelled a lot before the war, oh irony to Russia too. While men were hiding, protected by their wives and lovers, women had to face repeated rapes and constant violence.

Yes, most of the Russians soldiers (and even officers) were primitive folks, many of which country population of the vast Russian prairies, with their average education level far below that of the American and the British soldiers. Yet one cannot only account the behavior of the Russians to them being uneducated, primitive, and, if you wish to say so, animal-like. So what kind of behavior would someone expect from a Russian soldier whose wife, sister, and/or daughter had been raped by invading German soldiers and/or whose whole or partial family had been murdered or left to starve? After reading this book, I now understand why my grandmother, who wasnt particularly religious, was praying every night that the Americans would arrive at our town before the Russians would get here. His paternal grandfather was an officer-POW in the First World War. He was assigned to slave labor on the farm where my husbands grandmother was the farmers daughter.) Who are THE Russians anyway?

For eight weeks she chronicles the battle of the woman in war. The diarist writes of this time in a way that perhaps only a journalist could, keeping emotions in check, remaining clear-eyed, intelligence evident, apparently using her writing as a tool of survival. This book is important reading to anyone wishing to understand war. But this is a timeless book, because women are being used and abused as the spoils of wars today.

I've never seen/read a victim of war describe so much personal pain with so little animosity or bitterness toward the events and perpetrators. The account is first person.

Although this book was and still is published anonymously, in 2003 the author was identified as Marta Hillers, a journalist who had died two years previously at the age of 90. German women were not supposed to talk about the reality of rapes; and German men preferred not to be seen as impotent onlookers when the victorious Russians claimed their spoils of war. We, her present readers, have to deal with the fact that Marta Hillers worked for the Nazis throughout the war but, as Wiki says, kindly I suppose, she was probably not a member of the Nazi Party. A TRUTH ABOUT WAR INSTEAD OF THE USUAL EVASIONS AND EUPHEMISMS Here is the truth soldiers, all of them, from commanders down to the lowly infantry, who conquer enemy territory regard the rape of women as their right. Its not rape to the soldiers, its payback, for what the enemy did to their sisters, daughters and wives, maybe, but also, mostly, it's just because they want to. It usually doesnt come by rough seizing, what happens is that a couple of soldiers just turn up at your door, push it open, and invite you to sit down for a couple of friendly drinks. What Marta does, and what we imagine other resourceful women doing, or trying to do, is, after the first onslaught by drunken squaddies, find herself a protector, an officer type, who she will allow to rape her regularly on the understanding that he will keep others away. This works until the hurly-burly of the war drags her first Russian officer away; she has to get a new one pronto, or the squaddies will be back. When civil society was restored, this treatment of women as sex slaves faded away; when the German men came back to Berlin and elsewhere, and patched together their domestic life, they didnt want to hear a single word about what had happened in their absence.