28 March 2016

Book Review - A Woman in Berlin - 2000

The Book
A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City; Anonymous; Metropolitan Books, 2005.

Summary
In April 1945, the author, a female journalist living in Berlin, began to keep a daily diary as her city collapsed around her. The Russians arrived a few days later and the author writes in detail about the horror that unfolded.

Rape, looting, starvation, forced labour was the lot of the Germans who had hunkered down in Berlin that spring. Refugees from the East, who had thought Berlin a "safe" place, were also caught up in the maelstrom.

Writing with courage and intellectual honesty, the author provides an eye-opening personal account of a city pillaged and ravaged by the Russian Army.

While the author wished to remain anonymous, many now believe that she was Marta Hillers, a German journalist who passed away in 2001.


Review
I came across the title of this book while searching for something else online. The title and synopsis of the book intrigued me. While much has been written about the demise of Berlin at the end of the war, I had yet to come across a first-hand woman's account of that time.

The wife of Josef Jakobs, and their three children, were in Berlin at the end of the war. My father, Josef's youngest son, says little of that time, other than it was horrible. In reading this book, I got a small sense of what likely happened to Josef's in the spring of 1945.


Review Score
5 out of 5 - The book is gripping and offers a rare window into the civilian experience of war.

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