Jul 23, 2009

A Woman in Berlin

A Woman In Berlin is an adaptation of the anonymous diary of a German woman during the fall of Berlin in 1945. It's a good film, but it does not have the bitterness and the starkly brutal tone of the book. The book could be an apocryphal German version of the diary of Anne Frank, except that it was written by a journalist and the voice is that of a pretty decent writer. She has nothing but bitterness and scorn for the German men who were nowhere to be found when Berlin needed defending, while that stupid Führer of theirs was hiding in the bunker like a coward. I must confess that watching German citizens of that era suffer for 2 hours gives me a slightly pleasurable frisson of schadenfraude. A small little sense of revenge that nurtures the soul. The movie is conceived to do the opposite. But here are these people, good upstanding citizens of the Nazi regime, devastated by their own government. They believed in it, hook, line and sinker. So there. They deserved that and much more as far as I'm concerned.
Considering what the Nazis did to the Soviets, I think the Russians were relatively restrained. Basically, the Russian army had orders to rape every German woman, if possible. As we know, rape is a horrible strategy used to vanquish and humiliate the defeated. The Russian army raped more than 100,000 German women. So much for purity of race.
When the book came out in 1953, Germans were outraged because they saw it as staining the honor of German women (which were basically trying to survive), and no German man wanted to see himself in the mirror as an impotent (in every sense of the word) loser; so the author, duly enraged at this unbelievable but not unsurprising reception, forbid its publication until after her death. I recommend the book much more than the film.

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