Between April 20th and June 22nd of 1945 the anonymous author of A Woman in Berlin wrote about life within the falling city as it was sacked by the Russian Army. Fending off the boredom and deprivation of hiding, the author records her experiences, observations, and meditations in this stark and vivid diary. Accounts of the bombing, the rapes, the rationing of food, and the overwhelming terror of death are rendered in the dispassionate, though determinedly optimistic, prose of a woman fighting for survival amidst the horror and inhumanity of war.
©2002 Hannelore Marek (P)2006 Oakhill Publishing
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"This is amazing"
This really gives a human account, first hand of the end of the war from the view point of an ordinary woman. What she went through, the ordeals she suffered and how she got through this time are gripping. The stories told here are of a time that can't be imagined. Well read.
"Page turner diary with historic and literary merit"
This is a daily account of what it was like to be a thirty year old woman living through the final two months of WWII in Berlin. What makes it special is a combination of issues. First, it is a very well written flowing narrative, full of rich prose, that describes a momentous time in twentieth century Europe. Second, it is full of the dramatic tension and jeopardy that you might imagine being experienced by a civilian population that is being overrun by the battle-hardened front-line troops of an invading army. Third it provides a subjective, yet in some ways a journalistic view of what was happening from an intelligent and educated individual. Finally, it was simply a page turner that engaged my interest from start to finish.
Much credit should go to the translator and to the narrator of this book, as they both have excelled in making it believable, enjoyable, stirring and entertaining.
My main criticism is that there is a long introduction (approx. 23 mins) that, although well written, seems to me to be a bit of a spoiler. I wish that I had skipped it, and perhaps listened to it afterwards.
Often, books fit a narrow genre and are liked by some and loathed by others. In this case, I believe that this book will appeal to a wide range of readers. So, if the quality of the writing is as important as the subject matter and if you like biographies/diaries/ personal stories etc., then you should enjoy this book.
"A new insight into an old story"
Listen to this book, if only for its historical value... It deals with the lesser known aspects of WWII, such as the immediate impact of the Russian army entering Berlin and how those first days of German defeat were felt, physically and mentally, in the once great capital. More importantly though, it's a personal narrative of a highly educated women who is quick to adapt to being part of the losing side. She goes back and forth between a life once lived in peace and the present reality of rape and hunger, all the time preserving a stable description.
"Intelligent and inspiring book."
I chose this book after enjoying the Christopher Isherwood Berlin novels, I had some trepidation before actually starting it. But once I did I was gripped, knowing this was a true story made every character matter. I was I could not put it down and missed the heroine after I had finished reading.
The author is the heroine.
This book deserves the widest possible audience.
"remarkable true story told with great honesty"
You know that this won't be an easy listen when you read that it's the account of a young woman living through the collapse of Berlin in spring 1945. However, the journalistic detachment of the writing, combined with some brutal honesty about the savagery of those times, makes for compelling listening. Really good narration helps here. This account has apparently been a cause of considerable controversy back in Germany over the years. Understandably so. I cannot really imagine myself into what this woman lived through, but this book gives as close an insight as I would want. Highly recommended.
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