A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City

A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City

by Anonymous/bell

Publisher Comments:

For six weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army, a young woman, alone in the city, kept a daily record of her and her neighbors' experiences, determined to describe the common lot of millions ... Clear-eyed and unsentimental, she depicts her fellow Berliners in all their humanity as well as their cravenness, corrupted first by hunger and then by the Russians. And with shocking and vivid detail, she tells of the shameful indignities to which women in a conquered city are always subject: the mass rape suffered by all, regardless of age or infirmity.

ISBN: 0805075402
Subtitle: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City
Translator: Phillip, Boehm
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
Language: English
Pages: 288

Excerpt of review from

"The diarist and her neighbors sweat out waves of air raids, knowing all too well that the respite from American and British bombers will only come with the Soviet occupation: "Better a Russki on top," they joke nervously, "than a Yank overhead." "Our fate is rolling in from the east," the diarist laments, and early reports leave little room for optimism: "Let's be honest," one woman in the cellar ventures, "none of us is still a virgin, right?"

... Though the precise statistics will never be known, existing estimates are breathtaking: 2 million women were raped in Germany, many of them more than once. In Berlin alone, hospital statistics indicate between 95,000 and 130,000 rape victims. Many women killed themselves rather than "concede" -- as some women put it -- to the Soviets; some men killed themselves and their wives rather than suffer the indignity of rape."

This is a document showing close-ups of various things about war, one of which is that the people who suffer the most are rarely the ones who have had ANYTHING to do with inflicting suffering. It is true that by that time, the people of the Soviet Union had suffered 20,000,000 dead, had been living on virtually protein-free diets for months and months on end (brain-damage), and had experienced roving companies of German Army killing the entire populations of villages throughout Ukraine, Byelorus, and Russia, herding them into barns and then burning the barns to the ground with the still-living people inside.*

That does not justify the crimes described in this book, but it explains some of the insanity involved.

It is also true that the people of Berlin despised Hitler from Day One -- considered him a country bumpkin, a thug, a soulless monster and a hick. Berlin was a sophisticated, cultured and genteel cosmopolitan center. Hitler NEVER had support of a majority in Berlin.

*For a devastatingly moving (but non-graphic) tale of what happened, the Russian movie "Come and See", directed by Elem Klimov in 1983, is available on DVD. The DVD (from Kino Video) also includes news footage cntemporary with that era, about partisan groups finally assembling to fight back. And, once they have the upper hand, to become what they had fought against. An uncompromising film about the dehumanizing nature of war -- no good guys, no heroes.


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