Skip to content

August 20, 2017

3

Une femme à Berlin

by N@ncy

 

Marta Hillers:

  1. German Journalist Marta Hillers was born on 26th May, 1911 in Krefeld, Germany.
  2. She died on 16th Jun 2001 Basel, Switzerland aged 90.
  3. She is most remembered for A Woman in Berlin.
  4. Marta  studied at the Sorbonne.
  5. She traveled throughout Europe and Russia.
  6. Hillers was fluent in French and Russian.
  7. She was in the position of a ‘mediator’ in some situations during the war.
  8. She is in Berlin during the occupation by the Red Army.
  9. This book is a summation of her notes 20 April – 22 June 1945.

 

Conclusion:

  1. Any recollection of a war experience is impressive.
  2. Hillers  gives a an account of daily life in Berlin
  3. during the Soviet occupation.
  4. The most remarkable aspect of the book is Hillers’ point of view.
  5. She details the mass rape by the occupying forces
  6. …and how women choose a Soviet officer as protector.
  7. That was their best option in a bad situation.
  8. There were so many women who underwent treatment in Berlin
  9. after the Russians left……the doctors called it ‘rapports forcés’.
  10. Weak point: The writing feels restrained.
  11. There were very few descriptions of traumatic emotions.
  12. Hillers told us just about as much as she felt comfortable with.
  13. There are many people in this book based on
  14. friends, neighbors and work/study associates of Hillers.
  15. She took care to  conceal names
  16. combine aspects of  two people to build a new ‘person’…
  17. described her attic apartment as having  2 rooms in order to…
  18. conceal the description of the…
  19. larger living quarters she really had.
  20. She did not want the place to be recognized.
  21. Hillers controlled her emotions.
  22. “Je n’ai pas besoin de parler en
  23. peux cacher mes connaissances du russe….” (pg 326)
  24. On the last pages the author sums up her feelings:
  25. “From now on…nothing will easily shake or weaken me.” (pg 386)
  26. Désormais, plus rien ne parvient à m’ebranler aussi facilement.

 

  • The part of the book that
  • …impressed me the most was on page 283-284.
  • A young Russian officer asks Marta Hiller:
  • “Has anyone ever hurt you?
  • Est-ce qu’on vous  a fait du mal?”
  • She responds:
  • “Oui, monsieur, enfin vous comprenez.
  • C’est la guerre.
  • We will no longer speak of it
  • N’en parlons plus.”

 

Last thoughts:

  1. This is a book about the ‘raw side’ of life during WW II Berlin.
  2. I think that has played an important part in the  many 5 star reviews.
  3. The book sweeps the reader into a war torn Berlin from a female POV.
  4. There are better books written about war.
  5. I would recommend Vasily Grossman’s
  6. A Writer at War : a Soviet Journalist with the Red Army, 1941-1945
  7. Grossman does not sugarcoat the Red Army’s actions…
  8. and adds his poignant and at times critical commentary
  9. …he had as war correspondent.

Trivia: 

  1. The book was first published in English in 1954 in the United States
  2. …was published anonymously.
  3. When it was published in Germany in 1959, the author was
  4. accused of “besmirching the honor of German women.
  5. Hillers refused to have another edition published in her lifetime.
  6. The  book was published posthumously in Germany in 2003
  7. ….again anonymously.
  8. It met wide critical acclaim and was on the bestseller list for weeks.
  9. A controversy broke out when a literary editor revealed the author as Hillers.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: