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A Woman in Berlin : Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary
by Anonymous and Philip Boehm


Overview -
A "New York Times Book Review "Editors' Choice
For eight weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army, a young woman kept a daily record of life in her apartment building and among its residents. "With bald honesty and brutal lyricism" ("Elle"), the anonymous author depicts her fellow Berliners in all their humanity, as well as their cravenness, corrupted first by hunger and then by the Russians.
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More About A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous; Philip Boehm
 
 
 
Overview

A "New York Times Book Review "Editors' Choice
For eight weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army, a young woman kept a daily record of life in her apartment building and among its residents. "With bald honesty and brutal lyricism" ("Elle"), the anonymous author depicts her fellow Berliners in all their humanity, as well as their cravenness, corrupted first by hunger and then by the Russians. "Spare and unpredictable, minutely observed and utterly free of self-pity" ("The Plain Dealer, " Cleveland), "A Woman in Berlin" tells of the complex relationship between civilians and an occupying army and the shameful indignities to which women in a conquered city are always subject--the mass rape suffered by all, regardless of age or infirmity.
"A Woman in Berlin" stands as "one of the essential books for understanding war and life" (A. S. Byatt, author of "Possession"). Anonymous was a young woman at the time of the fall of Berlin. She was a journalist and editor during and after the war. An American Library Association Notable Book of the Year
A "New York Times Book Review" Editor's Choice For eight 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 neighbor's experiences, determined to describe the common lot of millions.
Purged of all self-pity but with laser-sharp observation and bracing humor, the anonymous author conjures up a ravaged apartment building and its little group of residents struggling to get by in the rubble without food, heat, or water. 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. Through this ordeal, she maintains her resilience, decency, and fierce will to come through her city's trial, until normalcy and safety return.
At once an essential record and a work of great literature, "A Woman in Berlin" (translated by Philip Boehm) reveals not only a true heroine, sure to join other enduring figures of the twentieth century, but also gives voice to the rarely heard victim of war: the woman. This edition includes a foreword by Hans Magnus Enzenberger and an introduction by Anthony Beevor. ""A Woman in Berlin" deserves a place among the famous war diaries by Anne Frank and Victor Klemperer. This book is required reading for anyone who wants to gain an understanding of the trauma experienced by a defeated people at the end of World War II."--Bianka J. Adams, "H-Net Book Review" "One of the most important documents to emerge from World War II . . . Anonymous died in 2001, but she remains officially unnamed, a private woman who has bequeathed us an extraordinary public legacy. Although the diary covers only two months--it ends as Berlin begins limping toward a semblance of normality--it is a richly detailed, clear-eyed account of the effects of war and enemy occupation on a civilian population . . . The most commonly accepted figure for rapes committed in Berlin during the first weeks of the Russian occupation is around 100,000 (calculated by hospitals to which the women turned for medical help). "A Woman in Berlin" shows us the actual experience behind those abstract numbers--how it felt; how one got through it (or didn't); how it brought its victory together, changing the way they saw men and themselves; the self-loathing ('I don't want to touch myself, can barely look at my body'); the triumph of just surviving. The book is graphic and unflinching, with the immediacy of all great diaries (we are always in the present), but what makes it so remarkable is its determination to see beyond the acts themselves. The rapists are not faceless; they have personalities, names . . . They have the contradictions of real people. They are brutal, naive, even hungry for some kind of connection . . . Though the heart of the book, the rapes are by no means all of it. We are also given the feeling inside a bomb shelter, the breakdown of city life and civil society, the often surreal behavior of the enemy, soldiers' arms lined with looted wristwatches, the forced labor clearing out the rubble piles that marks the beginning of the road back . . . Anonymous] is dispassionate and honest about Germany's responsibility for the war that has destroyed it, appalled at news of Nazi atrocities, thoughtful and open-minded, even about her oppressors . . . But the larger issues of the war are distant, available mostly by rumor. What she records instead is the world actually in front of her eyes, and here no detail escapes her--the stench of buildings where Russians have defecated wherever it suited them, the eerie silence of a whole city hunkering down, the behavior of her neighbors, often petty even in crisis. She has written, in short, a work of literature, rich in character and perception. It is dispiriting that shame or fear of social ostracism caused her to hide behind the label Anonymous (her fiance left her when he heard about the rapes), but even anonymously she has given us something that transcends shame and fear: the ability to see war as its victims see it. One evening, 'for the first time in three weeks I opened a book . . . But I had a hard time getting into it. I'm too full of my own images.' And we, too, will be full of those same images, for a long time to come."--Joseph Kanon, "The New York Times Book Review
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"Let Anonymous stand witness as she wished to: as an undistorted voice for all women in war and its aftermath whatever their names or nation or ethnicity. Anywhere."--Kai Maristed, "Los Angeles Times Book Review"
" Anonymous's] journal earns a particular place in the archive of recollection. This is because it neither condemns nor forgives: not her countrymen, not their occ

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780312426118
  • ISBN-10: 0312426119
  • Publisher: Picador USA
  • Publish Date: July 2006
  • Page Count: 261
  • Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.55 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Historical - General
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Women

 
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