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on 19 August 2013
An eyewitness chronicle of the downfall of Berlin, the arrival of the Russians, the revenge attacks on the predominately female population and rationally adapting to basic survival in the aftermath. The anonymous author is subject to repeated rape by a succession of passing soldiery until she secures herself protection by accepting a Russian officer as a shield and a food provider in return for her sexual services. The author writes with 'warts and all' humour and unflinching realism. The images remain in one's memory. Her reaction to events was to accept and expect events, aware that the Germans had behaved abominably on the Eastern Front, putting into perspective the postwar- 'Wir haben nichts gewusst' apologia of other compatriots.
An unputdownable memoir. As a journalist she reports conversations and comments of everyday neighbours and friends. Most telling of all Anonymous reports on a conversation with a 17 year old Russian soldier, ex- partisan who burned to tell his audience of Wehrmacht soldiers wives' how he had witnessed in his village children being bayoneted and babies' heads being bashed against walls. She asks ' Is this hearsay or did you see it yourself? ' .'I saw it twice myself' he replies.
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I bought the book in German for a German friend but I read it in French and it is available in English. The diary of a woman in Berlin just after Hitler's suicide. Berlin is practically reduced to ground 0. Those who are on the East are less lucky than the one on the West. The Red Army is mainly made of people who never left their medieval village. They are people who suffered a lot of poverty, even before the war. When they arrive in Berlin, they can't believe how elegant the simplest woman is. For some of them there is bitterness about it. They have also been brainwashed by the bolchevism. This German woman was a journalist and she becomes a prey like the other women. It is not just black and white. She tries to understand those "barbar" and to live with. It is a world of basic survival. If you don't think of yourself, nobody will or very very few.
The author seems to be ashamed of what happened to her and how she reacts and that is why she doesn't want to give her name. I don't see why. To my opinion she coped well enough. Many questions props into the reader's mind. What would I have done? Is the human specie so bad? Where is god? (rather remote) To accept to be raped for a few potatoes is no women's fault.
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