Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Woman in Berlin

A Woman in Berlin:  Eight Weeks in the Conquered City, A Diary  by Anonymous (translated by Philip Boehm)
Published:  2005 by Picador
Source:  Purchased

   The woman who wrote of her experience in Berlin in the eight weeks following the city's fall to Soviet troops at the end of World War II is nothing short of amazing.  We hear so many stories about victims from the war, but rarely if ever have I seen a story of an innocent German citizen and what they were forced to endure. 

   The beginning of this diary, April 20, 1945, is the day that Berlin started seeing and hearing the war up close.  The Soviets were advancing on the city and everyone is anxious; stories from areas already "liberated" by the troops describe terrible acts against women. 

    When the Soviets do arrive, the horror becomes reality.  Young girls are hidden away to prevent their "violation" but very few other women were spared repeated rapes.  The author of this diary is no exception, but she lays claim to a few officers (at separate times) who at least provide her and those with whom she is living food and other essentials.   Some might question her actions, but who is to say how we would react under the same circumstances?

    This diary is difficult to read at times but to me really proved that there were innocent victims on both sides of the war.

    This book meets the "Book in a Wartime Setting" requirement for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2011.


  1. Though I have read a lot of books on this subject, I have never read one from this perspective either. It sounds like a really powerful and interesting read, and your review makes me want to do a little more research on the book. Thanks!

  2. I have long thought whether I should comment on this or not. It is such a difficult and painful subject. A few of my older relatives were victims to rape by the Sovjets after they had conquered the parts of then-Germany they were living in. There are some horrific memories or just "facts" that I have in the form of letters by some family members at that time. It is heartbreaking to read. This is still very personal and I'm not sure whether it is very much known outside of Germany (as well as the big "floods" of German refugees from the East, trying to escape the Sovjets, starting in January 1945 - my mom as well as my father's family belonged to that group). It is good that there are books available on this subject. Yes, there were innocent victims on both sides. Thank you that you wrote a review on this book.

  3. This sounds like a very worthwhile read. I recently read Hans Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone about a German couple in Berlin during WWII who tried to quietly resist the Nazis. It's a different perspective.


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