A Woman in Berlin is a harrowing and moving account of Berlin in the final days of war: it is the diary of an anonymous woman attempting to navigate the chaos and horrors of the 8-week period from April 1945 when Berlin fell to Russian troops.
As the Nazi regime crumbles, and the city falls into confusion and terror, this diary relates the day-to-day experiences of Berlin citizens with a clarity and honesty that is deeply unsettling. Despite initial hopes that the fall of the male-dominated Nazi ideology would give way to equality of the sexes and a restoration of female dignity, the indiscriminate, inhuman evils of warfare take full sway, as Russian troops rape and destroy.
Almost as surprising and captivating as the extraordinary historical tale is the author's keen eye for social nuances and human behaviours. With incredible perception and clarity, the author offers razor-sharp appraisals of both of the Russian troops - seeing subtle degrees of regional, racial and even class distinction in their behaviours - and her fellow Germans, who she largely sees as reverting to orderly, disciplined routine with astonishing speed, despite the turmoil. It is these social portraits that lend the otherwise shocking, disturbing book a wry edge and a hint of dark wit.
This new translation comes with an introduction from celebrated historian Anthony Beevor, who reflects upon the moral ambiguities and compromises that it reveals, as the Russian army who first discovered the Nazi concentration camps of Eastern Europe became, in a matter of weeks, the rapists of Berlin - and the earliest attempts of Berliners to come to terms with their nation's past, and the ominous signs of their future.
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