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Customer reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars

on 1 September 2014
I read this book some time ago and it has been something that has stayed with me. I just completed a book titled After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation. The diary and the realities of the events portrayed in the history of After the Reich paralled each other. The atrocities committed during the period were unspeakable and it is amazing how a book could have been written describing the events. Highly recommend !
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 November 2013
As probably everybody nowadays knows, this diary describes the daily life of German civilians in Berlin during the last days of III Reich and the first days of Soviet occupation of German capital. It was written day after day by a German woman, who decided to stay anonymous, as her experiences during this time were terrible. Rape, hunger and different humiliations - such was the common lot of women in Berlin in those times. This testimony tells it all.

This is a very exceptional document, of great historical value. It is also very, very brilliantly written, which actually for a time caused some doubts about its authenticity (presently there is virtually no doubt that this is a real, genuine diary kept in those times). Horrible things are described in detail, but mostly in a matter-of-fact way. And one of the things which are the most shocking is the description how even the most abject situation tends to create a kind of social acceptance, with its own rituals, if it perdures.

This book is hardly judgemental - in fact the way author sees both the invaders ("our liberators") and her fellow Berliners is full of compassion, even when they display some very abject traits. The description of the way the most defenseless people (women delivered into the hands of invading hostile army which considers rape as normal behavior) take their life in their own hands and even manage to get even (well, a little) by secretly mocking their new "masters" makes for a very interesting read. There is also a surprising amount of humor in this book - which is probably what shocked so much the male readers of the first edition of "Woman in Berlin" in the 50s...

Last but not least, author describes also another category of victims - German men, who, after fighting six years with extreme energy and courage, were ultimately so completely defeated that those who survived had to watch, powerless, the winners defile repeatedly and almost casually their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters. Author describes with a great respect one of the very few men who stood up (at the grave risk to his life) to a bunch of Soviet soldiers and not only managed to save his wife from being raped but was lucky enough to survive this confrontation (most of others who tried the same thing were not that fortunate).

But possibly the most shocking part of the book is the one, which begins after most of Soviet troops left Berlin. The rapes certainly ended at that moment and author was set free by the departure of Soviet officers who "owned" her. But her relief lasted only a short time... Those last chapters are indeed a very tough and surprising read...

This is not the kind of book which one enjoys reading - but it is certainly an extremely important testimony about an aspect of war which is seldom openly described, as it is too painful to remember - for both women and men. And it is also a very powerful warning to all those who would be tempted to start a war: if you really want to do this, you better be really, REALLY CERTAIN that you will not lose...
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on 11 February 2014
A most shocking 8 week journal of a woman living in occupied Berlin during the second World War. Written factually, without self pity or hate, it is the story of survival in a decimated city overrun by the Russians. A brilliant if deeply disturbing read
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