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.
This is a review I don't want to write. I don't think I could ever truly describe the haunting beauty of this book.
This is a heart-breakingly uninhibited account of Russian occupied Berlin by a German woman. She writes of day to day life which happens to be filled with bomb raids, pillaging for food and, once the Ivans invade, rape and murder.
The author, who was later revealed to be Marta Hillers, was once a journalist and you can see it in her writing. As I said before, I don't think I can give it any justice so I will just say her writing is beautiful and intelligent and so straight forward. It's actually because of the straight forwardness that it took me so long to read it. To read her writing about so many terrible incidents without malice really hurts your heart.
This is not a fun book to read. It is very difficult in most parts but it speaks frankly of how society adapts in extreme danger, how it all becomes about survival of the individual and then how it struggles to build itself back up in the end.
I highly recommend this to anyone.
5 out of 5 stars
GET IT HERE: A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary