A Woman in Berlin
book reviews:
· general fiction
· chick lit/romance
· sci-fi/fantasy
· graphic novels
· nonfiction
· audio books

Click here for the curledup.com RSS Feed

· author interviews
· children's books @
· DVD reviews @

win books
buy online


for authors
& publishers

for reviewers

click here to learn more

Buy *A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City--A Diary* online

A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City--A Diary
Anonymous, tr. Philip Boehm
288 pages
July 2006
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

previous review next review

Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on A Woman in Berlin.

When first published in the 1953, this book was a flop and the writer was lambasted for being immoral. Perhaps it was the powerful content. Perhaps it was just bad timing, being too close in proximity to a tragedy of such epic proportions. Or it could be that, since it was written by “Anonymous,” that people could easily discount the atrocities and horror of this woman’s story.

Nonetheless, A Woman In Berlin: Eight Weeks In A Conquered City –A Diary is an amazing account from an anonymous thirty-four-year-old journalist who began writing it on Friday, April 20, 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian Army. Though bombed out of her home, hungry, and without electricity, Anonymous manages to keep her decency and spirit:

“This morning I wondered how many dead people I’ve seen in my life. The first was Her Schermann. I was five at the time, he was seventy, silver-white hair on white silk, candles at his head, raised casket, the whole scene full of meaning. So death then, was something solemn and beautiful. At least until 1928, when Hilde and Kate P. showed me their brother Hans, who died the day before. He lay on the sofa like a bundle of rags, a blue scarf tied around his chin, his knees bent – a piece of dirt, a nothing. Later came my own dead relatives, blue fingernails among the flowers and rosaries.

Dead people, yes, but I’ve never seen anyone actually die. I expect that won’t be a long time coming. Not that I think it could happen to me. I’ve had so many narrow escapes; I feel I lead a charmed life. Which is probably the way most people feel. How else could they be in such high spirits, surrounded by so much death? What’s clear is that every threat to your life boosts your vitality my own flame is stronger now; I’m burning more fiercely than before the air raids. Each new day of life is a day of triumph. You’ve survived once again. You’re defiant. On the one hand you stand taller, but at the same time your feet are planted more firmly into the ground.”
Hunger, heat, and death wouldn’t be her only battles. Things would get much worse for her and many other women. The ravages (and savages) of war would push the limits of basic human decency, destroying compassion for a fellow human being. With only the light from a candle, with found notebooks and stubby little pencil, Anonymous would continue to write with a sharp wit and keen observation as her residence took direct hits from artillery.
“I nod, but just to make sure I step out into the dark corridor. Then they have me. Both men were lying in wait. One of them grabs my wrists and jerks me along the corridor. Then the other is pulling as well, his hands on my throat, so I can no longer scream. They’re both tearing away at me; instantly I’m on the floor. One man stands there keeping watch, while the other tears at my underclothes, forcing his way—

I grope around the floor with my left hand until I find my key ring. I use my right hand to defend myself. It’s no use. He’s simply torn off my garter, ripping it in two. When I struggle to come up the second one throws himself on top of me as well, forcing me back to the ground with his fists and knees. Now the other keeps lookout. They both go leaving me lying there. I pull myself up the steps, gather my things, drag myself along the wall toward the basement door. They’ve locked it from the inside. “Open up,” I say. “I’m all alone, there’s no one else.” Everyone stares at me. Only then do I realize how I look. I start yelling. “You pigs! Here they rape me twice in a row and you shut the door leaving me lying there like a piece of dirt!”
Sadly, this wouldn’t be her only encounter. To save herself from further humiliation by four Russian officers she pleads for it to only be one man (an officer named Petka) that rapes her that night. But even this doesn’t deter her from writing, and writing, and writing. Though all the fear, and frenzied images of war, Anonymous maintains her fierce determination and manages to give a voice to the women who’ve endured war.

This is just an amazing piece of work that should be read by all.

© 2005 by Bobby Blades for curledup.com.

buy *A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City--A Diary* online
click here for more info
Click here to learn more about this month's sponsor!

fiction · sf/f · comic books · nonfiction · audio
newsletter · free book contest · buy books online
review index · links · · authors & publishers

site by ELBO Computing Resources, Inc.