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Battleground Berlin: Diaries, 1945-1948 Hardcover – 1 Dec 1990

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The diaries of a member of the anti-Nazi German resistance describe life in Berlin during the Russian occupation from the end of April 1945 until the Berlin blockade in 1948.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Read this book and you'll have a small idea of Iraq. 22 April 2003
By Tim Johnson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even though I found this book very interesting and finished reading it in a short amount of time, at its completion I found myself disappointed because the book was not the book I thought it was going to be.
This is the kind of statement that I hate others to make-damn the object: book, movie, play, painting etc. because its not what you would like it to be. In this case, however, I feel more than normally justified because the author focuses her writing skills on painting a picture, not so much of her life in a war ravaged city but of how humans regained control over that city.
The difference is important because in her diary entries starting in '46 the author deals almost exclusively with discussions of currency manipulations and political maneuvering-these topics are of extraordinary weight in post war Berlin but I had hoped that she would give me more information about Berlin's physical face.
I wanted to know more about living in a city that was a complete mess-what were the jobs and wages for those jobs and apartments and the resurrection of essential services and a myriad collection of other day to day themes. A reader can't, however, damn a writer for failing to write the book the reader would have liked.
Having said all of this, I believe that Ruth Andreas-Friedrich has written a wonderful book-a book I would recommend to any person with a passing interest in those over-looked pieces of history that are left in the air at the end of a book or a professor's lecture. You read a general history or listen to a lecture series and you're left with questions about the details of what happened, in Berlin's case, when the boombs stopped falling and the Russian troops left. In this case the writer completes much of the picture.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
When all your energy is sapped on resistance, then what? 7 May 2013
By Mary McGreevey - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Andreas-Friedrich, author of this diary-format book about life in the years right after the war, chronicles very well the desperation of most BErliners as the entire infrastructure of the city is collapsing, the Russian occupation and rampaging and raping takes over, the lack of food and water, phone service or transport, making everything almost impossible. One cannot find one's friends and relations, one has to walk everywhere since the Russians steal the bicycles, women and girls are perpetually afraid of rape, since the Russian mob - mainly Uzbekis and Kazakis and other minorities - were the ones sent by Stalin to rape and steal as revenge against the Germans.
Our author is 28, raised in a well-to-do family, well-read and well-educated, employed until shortly before Berlin's collapse at a newspaper. Now she and all her close-knit friends must scramble for food, housing, basic supplies and even water.

Several of these friends, equally professional and educated, stuck together as a group during their years of Resistance against the Nazis, helping Jews and Communists and others who needed to be hidden and fed secretly. They formed networks and delivery methods across the city, sometimes recruited new members, and so on, but always in high anxiety of being caught and killed by their own government; at the least, thrown in a concentration camp. After years of such challenges and tension, tightly bound with each other, and well documented in her first book, she now has to face the dissolution of the group as its purpose is lost.

She sees that each person must reevaluate his or her life, start his or her work again - a very hard job in a ruined city, and try to plan for their individual futures. In some cases, this leads to the obvious - fleeing from Soviet Occupied Zone, out into what is now West Germany, where food supplies were much more plentiful, where especially the Americans were generous in setting up a new economy and treating the "natives" fairly. In the Soviet zone, people are getting rounded up for speaking against Russians or Communism, thrown right back into those concentration camps, which the Russians have taken over.

An interesting side trip for anyone visiting Berlin: Take the S-1 train out to the end station, Sachsenhausen. There you can see the ruins of the original first Nazi camp, never opened until the Wall went down, so much less well known than Dachau near Munich. The place is enormous, and there is a very high-tech museum about the thousands of Germans locked up for years by the Soviets there - their names scratched into the bricks.

Andreas-Friedrich herself ultimately makes the decision to leave her native city at the end of the book, leaving everything and everyone behind. This is certainly a major decision; in real life, she became editor of SIE magazine.

If there is any downside to this authentic diary, it's the lack of clarity on certain issues, which to those unfamiliar with Berlin, let alone Germany, and the absolutely horrific conditions of the post-war years, the average reader might feel confused half the time. On the other hand, it is a diary, with entries from each week or so, therefore it is not meant to be a novel explaining how things are to a non-German.

When you no longer have an enemy to resist, what happens to the group? This is happening even now in post-Cold War Europe - naturally, most intensely in the East. Another generation probably has to grow up before a lot of the old resentments are forgotten.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Thought Provoking 15 Nov. 2010
By Gepetto - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I lived in Germany when the Wall came down. I lived in Frankfurt for 4 years as an American and businessman. This account told me of events that I had not been aware of and should have been aware of. Ruth quite often enters into a philosophical view of events of the time and these views are so apropos today as we witness a move toward Socialism in the US, continued problems in the Middle East, a resurgence of Communism, endless and fruitless UN "talks", etc. It reminds me of a quote from Harry Truman's biography..."There is nothing new in the world. It is all in the history books." Ruth's writings will make you think about the world. She tells the story from the view of a German....a view we Americans are often devoid of.
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