32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2006
I am an amateur historian on WWII, particularly as regards the European front and the Axis' side.
Over the years I developed much curiosity on WWII from the German perspective, also due to the lack of documents and testimonials from their side. Recently the gap is closing and, with the healing of time, it is now possible to experience how war was just as hard, and ultimately terrible, for those fighting and living "on the wrong side".
I read this book over a year ago after watching the film "Downfall" (which is excellent), and, contrarly to tradition, it is a great read even after watching the movie.
Although I think the book delves a little too much on the early years of Traudl Junge and her stay in the "Wolf's lair", once you get past that point I guarantee anyone will just rush all the way to the end of the story, even if they already know what happens, as most of us do.
Her account is very dry, very matter-of-fact and that helps to enjoy the story for what it is rather than for whom it involves. One gets to see a side of the Nazi regime from right inside it, and for those who like historical accuracy, it is nice to see some facts nicely fitting into the overall picture, as well as some previously unknown details. Extremely interesting is what happens right after the end of the war, to her, the German people and Berlin, things that few of us were made aware of.
This powerful real story will stand up to and fascinate even those with little interest in WWII. As they'll turn the last page, they may perhaps send a thought to Traudl, who spent the latter half of her life dealing with shame and died, as it often happens, shortly after the release of her book.
A must read, and don't miss the film too.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2011
Back in early November 2010, the BBC ran a series of WWII documentaries and films to comemerate 70 years since the blitz. I happened to come across the film of the same title as the book and was blown away at the films brilliance. Without a doubt one of the best films about Hitler ever made. I had to find out whether the book was (and in most cases) better than the film.
I wasn't disappointed. Traudl Junge tells the story of a young woman entering adulthood without a care in the world with the sole ambition of becoming a professional dancer. However, events and circumstances mean that she ends up becoming one of Hitler's personal secretaries, dinner party companion and wife of an SS officer. The book gives you an insight into the relationship between Eva Braum and Hitler as well as the competing officers wishing to be part of Hitler's inner circle and how fortune and fate assisted her during the early years after the war.
There have been many books written about nazism and Adolf Hitler, but few have been written by someone who was there every day with Hitler and his senior officers during the last few years of the Third Reich. One of the most fascinating things I found out about this book was what happened to the mentioned officers and staff. From Hitler's valet to his cook. This is a must read book that will not disappoint.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
If you have seen the film Downfall this book may be a disappointment . Not a disappointment because of the core of the book written in 1947 by Traudl Junge , but rather because of those sections written by Melissa Muller . Muller , in line with a number of reviewers of this book , has to be judgemental in her approach to Junge . She has an agenda , believing that Junge should have felt overwelming guilt , and cannot cope with the fact that Junge didn't . Junge is an important historical witness , nothing else . It is a flaw to impose character judgements on her from a modern perspective .
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2006
This is a good book. It is good because it is honest. It is good because it looks through the eyes of a woman at a world dominated and usually described only by men. And it is good because it spreads a thin veil of pudeur over events that are today often shown in all their crass ugliness - such as the charred corpses of Saddam Hussein`s sons.
In her first serious professional position Traudl Junge became one of Hitler`s personal secretaries and stayed with him for 30 months until his death. She tells us about him what she saw. To many of us, this may not be enough, many of us would like to be confirmed in our mental picture of a screaming, violent paranoid, apt at biting his carpet when things got rough - this is, after all, the way he has always been depicted, even long before the Second World War had broken out.
The book makes us imagine him, in the presence of Traudl Junge, as a man with a mission and certainly very convincing when it came to that, but otherwise quite commonplace to the point of being somewhat boring, cloth-cap, muffler, and greyhound, quite literally, except that the greyhound would be a German shepherd, not much of a reader, and no longer in a mood to watch movies. He was able to hide his relationship with Eva Braun quite as efficiently as François Mitterand managed to cover his own liaison. Nothing that Traudl Junge tells us about him would have us think that he was anything of an inhibited Dr. Jekyll who would turn into a bloodthirsty Mr. Hide as soon as the padded doors of his office closed behind him.
When Traudl Junge met Hitler, the tide of the war was starting to run against him. He was beginning to realize that he might not be able to achieve his aims. In this situation, he behaved as most of us would: he closed his eyes - partly so to avoid having to face the facts, partly in an effort to go against the sea-change and muster up all the forces that the German people could still mobilize.
An interesting aspect of Traudl Junge`s book is the fact that it was written down in its entirety within a few years of those momentous events, while her memories were still fresh and unaltered by the post-war political re-education that the Allies brought to bear on the German people. Thus, there was no need to incorporate any belated realizations into her account of what she had seen, no need to imagine behind facets of Hitler`s behaviour events that later might have taken on a particular significance, no need to change her point of view and bend with the remover to remove scenes that she had observed.
Even those things that the author does not express sometimes tell a story. We have been told repeatedly that Hitler loved to view in his private theatre the film showing the execution of the men who conspired against him a year before the end of the war. His secretary tells us nothing about that kind of thing, even though it is highly likely that Hitler - if the story were true - would have rounded up his inner circle to share his gloating pleasure.
A special praise should go to Melissa Müller who helped Traudl Junge with this book and who wrote an accompanying text that shows a high degree of empathy for the author and the times she describes.
This book is not an account of what Hitler really was like", but it does show us what he could, at times, be like - at the hour of his death, for example.
45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2004
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the WW2 era or the Third Reich.
I find it hard to believe that Traudl Junge really didn't know the truth about her employer until after the war. Indeed she hints that a guest once asked Hitler about whether he was aware of the treatment of the Jews so surely some alarm bells must have rung? That said, the author does say in her introduction that she is not asking for understanding and I think this helps to read the book for what it is, a historical account.
I found this book impossible to put down once I had entered Traudl Junge's world and her description of life in the bunker in Berlin with the Russians approaching on all sides makes you feel trapped and claustraphobic with her.
Read it, you won't be disappointed!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 2010
I was moved to read this after watching 'Downfall' Traudl Junge's memoir is a fascinating glimpse of the Hitler's inner circle through the eyes of a young secretary.She saw a Hitler that the masses never saw,and it is sometimes hard to reconcile the monster with the man who could not face telling Traudl that her husband was dead, or the idea that she was totally ignorant of what was going on outside their sheltered existence. We see the artificial world of the Berghof, the Wolf's Lair, and most chilling of all, the claustrophobic Bunker in Berlin in the final days of the Third Reich. If you have studied the Second World War, or have an interest in this period of recent history, do read this book. It is an amazing testimony.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 12 April 2006
A truly fascinating insight from a perspective i've never read before. Here is such a bizarre view of him; it is such a serious subject, yet there are almost elements of ridiculous black humour in this book such as when Hitler discusses his vegetarian views and how disgusted he is by the way animals are treated in abattoirs. Felt the book could have been longer, a very enjoyable read and insight into another side of Hitler and Eva Braun.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2014
This has to be a serious witness contender for the factual account of what happened in the bunker and beyond. I read the entire book in two evenings and enjoyed every minute. No great startling revelations, just a simple book of memoirs, put together in her own hand shortly after hostilities ended, then updated years later after requests by others to do so.... I am glad I read it, excellent book.
on 2 November 2014
I found Traudl Junge's account of life with Hitler a very revealing insight into life in the Third Reich. Her perceptions of the key members of the Nazi party are different from those written by former members, such as Albert Speer. She was a normal girl with no apparent prejudices, something other people interviewed verified. She did her job for who she later found out was an evil master. She liked Hitler and spent may informal times with him over dinner and when travelling. Some of her observations, or when she recounted conversations, where actually humours! It is a is unique account as she sees Hitler almost on a daily basis but, at the tie of her diaries, is unaware of the atrocities the Nazi's are committing. Junge wrote things as she saw them without any Nazi's blinkers on. Her reflections later in life were very honest without being overly apologetic.I own and have read many books about the Third Reich and this was probably the most personal and unbiased account. A worthy read which adds knowledge and aspects to Hitler and others key members of the Third Reich.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2006
Firstly let's be VERY clear about one thing here, my feelings about Hitler are based on the fact that if he had succeeded and invaded the UK in the 1940s then my wonderful family would have in all probability would have ended up in the Gas Chambers for on my mother's side there is Jewish blood and on my father's we are Indian and the mixing of races was totally frowned upon by the Third Reich.
So my feelings about Hitler are very anti in the extreme, you don't even want to know what I think about David Irving and other apologists for the Holocaust however to my complete and utter surprise I found myself respecting and even liking Traudl Junge, I saw the film Blind Spot before I read this book and I want to learn more about Hitler's last secretary.
People have complained in some of the reviews that Traudl tried to explain her ignorance about the Final Solution on her youth, however I have both read this book and seen the documentary Blind Spot and not once did she do that, she admitted she was young and foolish but she did face up to the fact that she had been so blind about Hitler's failings which is more than a lot of other people have ever done since the end of the war.
This book actually compliments Blind Spot; it fills in the gaps and expands on a very good documentary and along with the film "Down Fall" which I think does do Traudl Junge justice, I do think she was not a bad person, just misguided and foolish and who in the end had the courage to admit her mistakes and try to make amends by letting history document her part in an era we must never forget.
The book chronicles Traudl's childhood and how she ended up as Hitler's secretary by sheer fluke, she might have not been the most intelligent girl available for the job but I think it is unfair to say that she was taken on because she was a brainless bimbo, far from it, for if she had been brainless she would not have faced up to the fact at a later time in her life that evil is banal and even a person who is basically "good" can be ensnared before they even know it.
I think in order for a person to get a good understanding of Traudl Junge, you have to read this book and it is a fascinating read from beginning to end, watch the documentary Blind Spot, and then see the film Down Fall, in that order.
I am not defending Traudl Junge; she was foolish, she followed a brutal and corrupt system blindly and fell into the trap of being banal, just like millions of other people did, but unlike millions of other people she faced up to her part in the Third Reich and this book is her story, unsentimental and told from her perspective, you cannot help but feel a modicum of compassion for a foolish young woman who would have to live for the rest of her life with the knowledge that she was secretary to a man who helped put together the final solution along with God knows how many other atrocities that have got lost in the annals of history.