The Past Is Myself Paperback – 16 Sep 1988
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Including both The Past is Myself and its sequel, The Road Ahead, the Omnibus edition also features newly-discovered additional text.
About the Author
Christabel Bielenberg, a niece of Lord Northcliffe, married a German lawyer in 1934. She lived through the war as a German citizen and wrote about her experiences in her memoir, The Past is Myself, and in its sequel, The Road Ahead. The Past is Myself was adapted for television by Dennis Potter under the title Christabel. In 1988, the Federal Republic of Germany awarded her the Commander's cross of the Order of Merit for her contribution to German-English understanding. She and her husband, Peter, have three sons and live in Ireland.
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Top Customer Reviews
So many personal stories from Nazi Germany ended in despair and destruction, but this is not one of them. It is very dark in parts, and the sudden news of her friend Adam's trial and brutal execution as a result of the purge after the July 1944 bomb plot against Hitler is particularly harrowing. Other people's tales are brought in too, such as the SS officer who cannot sleep because of the dreadful things he has done, and the jolly innkeeper who waits for news of her son, destined to leave his bones in Russia. The sheer humanity of this book is so deeply moving but at the same time inspirational.Read more ›
Now granted, Christabel Bielenberg was not exactly a typical German woman, being born in English aristocracy and becoming a German citizen only after her 1934 marriage to a young lawyer from Hamburg. Together with her husband and almost all their friends they were also fervently anti-Nazi from the beginning - which ultimately led to her husband being investigated and detained by Gestapo in 1944. But even if her point of view was not typical to most of the Germans, she still shared the joys and sorrows of every day life under Nazi regime and her humble and very moderately worded testimony is a very precious and very interesting one. This book is slow paced and sticks to the facts, but still I read it with as much pleasure as if it was a good novel.
There are some particularly interesting moments, like the interrogation of Ms Bielenberg by Gestapo in 1944, or her conversation in a train with a fellow voyager who happened to be a Latvian Waffen SS officer - a tormented man who looked for death on battlefield but instead was just collecting more decorations and promotions... Another particularly interesting chapter is the story of a Nazi party member who was in charge of the building in which Ms Bielenberg and her family lived. Life and personnality of this rather pathetic person are of a great interest for anybody wanting to understand better the phenomenon of Hitler and his regime.
I appreciated this book very much and I will certainly read its continuation, "The road ahead", describing especially the first years of life in occupied Germany after 1945.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
She was a brave lady; an Englishwoman married to a German, living in Berlin and anti-Nazi! Her description of visiting Peter in the concentration camp is chilling and her ride... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Mrs. E. A. Marks
I have now read this book 3 or 4 times over the years, and this time will be the last.
Maybe I am getting old and jaded, but the words boring and pointless come to... Read more
Purchased for a book club. Beautifully written and a fascinating story. It gave me a different perspective on the German side of WW2. Worth a read.Published 15 months ago by Mrs V Yeomans
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