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on 24 October 2002
Ms Klabunde's book is, as far as I know, the only full length biography of Magda Goebbels currently available in English. As such, it is a required reading for those of us with an interest in key personalities of the Third Reich. Having seen David Irving's vast "Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich" (which Ms Klabunde doesn't include in her biography, surely mistakenly for it is very well researched in spite of some well-known biases which are fairly easy to factor out) I was aware of many of the basics. Magda was born an illegitimate child, although her rich father would figure more or less prominently in her life. Interestingly, her mother would marry a Jew who would care for young Magda as a father, only to disappear during the Third Reich, probably at Joseph Goebbel's behest). Magda herself was good-looking (although the pictures included in the book don't seem to do her justice, probably because most of them date from her final years, when she was reckoned to have aged disproportionately), very smart (she was a good pupil, good with languages and a competent pianist) and unusually open to new sensations. She had a romance with Victor Chaim Arlosoroff, an important Zionist figure who would be a key figure in the creation of what would become the state of Israel, and later married a rich industrialist (Guenther Quandt) with whom he had a son. She divorced Quandt because she was bored with the life of an haute-bourgeoise hausfrau and eventually fell in with the Nazis. She was struck by the remarkably rodent-like Joseph Goebbels (there's no accounting for sexual attraction, of course) and eventually married him and bore him 6 children, whose names all started with the letter "H". She was victimised by his relentless philandering and eventually had to submit to being an official mother figure for the State rather than her husband's lawful wife. Hitler was very fond of her, which gave her a status not shared by the wives of other Nazi bigwigs. As the end approached she decided to commit suicide with the Fuehrer and her husband and to kill her children as well (with the exception of Harold Quandt, her son with Guenther, who was a prisoner of war of the British, fortunately enough), in spite of offers by Speer and others to spirit them away from Berlin in Reich's twilight.
The book succeeds specially in its earlier chapters, perhaps because the reader is less familiar with the story. When she becomes Goebbels' wife and especially after 30 January 1933 when Hitler comes to power the story travels on well-trod tracks, and it is obviously more difficult to convey new information (also comparisons are likely to be more denigrating to what after all is a volume of popular biography). But I was nonetheless annoyed to see references to a nephew of US President Herbert Hoover who supposedly proposed marriage to Magda. However, a name is not given in the text, and I assume it would not have been difficult to find for the biographer (this person appears in the Index as "Hoover, nephew of" which is just shoddy). Further, given the prominence of the Quandt family in the post-war period (according to Forbes, in 2002 Johanna Quandt and family were worth about $18.4 Billion, making them the second richest family in Germany) it would have been useful if Ms Klabunde had given a brief description of Herbert and Harold Quandt's lives after 1945. So, not a bad read, but not a brilliant one, either.
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on 8 August 2010
This is a meticulously-researched, fluid biography of a fascinating and interesting person.

The author strives to explain how and why the teenage girlfriend of a Zionist (and stepdaughter of a Jew) ended up committing suicide and infanticide in the Fuehrerbunker three decades later, having married a capitalist in between. The protagonist was certainly a woman of contradiction; fortunately, her best friend and confidante Ello Quandt was able and willing to share memories and anecdotes, many of which feature in this book, along with other reliable accounts from people such as Magda's mother, and Albert Speer.

At times, it's clear from slightly clumsy translation that the book was originally written in German, but for me, it didn't detract.

I would have liked to have seen more photographs of Magda before she became unwell and prematurely aged, given that so much was made of her appearance and its importance in attracting men to her.

I wanted to know more about the fate of the Quandts, especially Harald, after the war. As it happens, there is plenty of info on Wiki, but an extra page in this book would have been a worthwhile addition, just to tie everything up.
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on 18 November 2013
This biography read like a novel. I read it in a couple of days. Its a bit of emotional roller coaster of the book. You start to feel sorry for her because of the terribly unhappy marriage she finds herself in but then when you realise that she is prepared not only to put up not only with Gobbles philandering but that she is prepared to turn a blind eye to the knowledge that she clearly has of the atrocities being carried out by the 'Party' (even against her own friends). To do this not because she agrees with the Nazi ideology, but rather because she loves the social status her marriage gives her and that rather than lose that status at the end of the war she was prepared not only for other people to 'disappear' but to go as far as to kill herself and her children. I almost thought it made her worse than Hitler. But even though by the end of the book I had completely lost patience with Magda, her story was still fascinating.
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on 7 October 2015
First off, this is a very poor translation but hardly the worst of the problems with this book. More problematic was the fabricated dialogue and the supposed thoughts, feelings.and motivations of the characters that the author created. When I read a history book, I want it to be based on real substance, not the author's fantasy. Too many times she imagines what Magda must have been feeling. But this is simply conjecture and poor history. But what really annoyed me about this book was the way that the Germans here, and by extension Magda herself, are treated as victims. The only bad guys here are the Nazi leadership. The Germans didn't vote for Hitler, a few of Hindenburg's close circle plotted to have him made Chancellor. (Even though ALL the Chancellors of the Weimar Republic were appointed by the President and Hitler was the head of the largest party in the Reichstag!) Time and again, the author implies that the Germans never wanted the Nazis, they were forced onto them through propaganda and violence. "The masses were duped...," she quotes, they were "victims of propagnda." But this is a huge distortion of the reality. Propaganda and violence can not really explain how individuals at nearly all levels of society took part in the horrors of the Third Reich. The myth that only "the Nazis" did it, has been proven false many times. And to extend this idea to Magda herself is ridiculous. Klabunde writes about Magda "If she had taken account of the destructive and barbaric powers underlying it, particularly where the persecution of the Jews was concerned, she could not have clung to her desire to be part of this fantastic realm." Yet, at the same time Klabunde writes numerous anecdotes where Magda refused to help save Jewish lives and where she clearly expressed anti-semitic ideas. The idea that had she only realized sooner what was going to happen she would have rejected it, is silly. Where does the author get this idea from? Because she had Jewish friends when she was younger? She knew and was a part of the whole regime! She is definitely not an innocent victim here! She had no problem to intervene to save the life of a friend's relative. He wasn't Jewish!
Part of the blame for the shoddy history here can be traced to Auguste Behrend's memiors, which obviously tried to show her daughter as a victim (of the regime and her husband) not a perpetrator.
And my last criticism is a mistake the author makes on page 194. She claims that no one was willing to drive Arlosoroff to the hospital because he was shot on the sabbath when Jews are forbidden to drive. But anyone who knows anything about Judaism also knows that when it comes to saving someone's life, you ARE allowed to drive and violate this sabbath law. So I find it hard to believe that this was the reason they couldn't find a driver.
All in all, a very poor book. Definitely not worth reading.
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on 14 July 2008
After having read the biography of Eva Braun and comparing it to the one on Magda Goebbels, it is clear to see that Magda Goebbels was the true definition of the Nazi wife. Keeping her intentions to stay true to the Third Reich's ideaology to the bitter end, she was prepared to use her six children as sacrificial lambs to the slaughter instead of letting them be taken away to safety as the Reich crumbled all around them.

It is very interesting to see the changes wrought in Magda's life as she had a relationship with the complete antithesis to Josef Goebbels; Chaim Arlosoroff. She certainly was a women who liked extremes!

Klabunde writes intelligently and highlights Magda's life as a child during the Great War and then through her relationship with Arlosoroff to her marriage to Gunther Quandt. To women of the post-war era, it is hard to see just what exactly drew her to the unattractive Goebbels as Gunther Quandt was perfectly capable of keeping her in luxury just as Goebbels himself did. But the days of the Third Reich were no ordinary times and we have only what the author herself has to say on the subject.

Magda came across to me as someone I would not have liked in the end, cold, completely without heart. No parent has the right to sacrifice their children's lives and perhaps it is just as well she too committed suicide so as not to hear history pass judgement on her. She claimed her children were "too good for this world". Hitler's relatives changed their names to escape the stigma, the Goebbels children should have had the opportunity to do the same.

An interesting book nonetheless.
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on 28 August 2014
Magda had a really surprising life before she became Mrs Goebbels in as much as she must have been afraid of effectively being found out by the Nazi regime. It explains everything that happened to her although researching her must have been a trial for the author. A well written treatise on a very misunderstood, muddled woman. I enjoyed it tremendously..
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on 24 June 2013
In good condition, prompt and a fascinating read. I'm working on a play in which she features and the info was invaluable, as well as being insightful.
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