A Woman in Berlin

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A Woman in Berlin (German: Eine Frau in Berlin) is an autobiographical account of the period from 20 April to 22 June 1945 in Berlin (Battle of Berlin). At the author's request, the work was published anonymously for her protection. The book purports to detail the writer's experiences as a rape victim during the Red Army occupation of the city. Two years after her death in 2003 the anonymous author was identified in the Süddeutsche Zeitung by Jens Bisky (a German literary editor) as Marta Hillers. Brisky said that Hillers was a journalist who worked on magazines and newspapers during the Nazi era, and who had also been a small-time propagandist for the Third Reich writing a navy recruiting brochure, but that she was probably not a member of the Nazi Party.[1][2]

The account describes her personal experiences during the occupation of Berlin by the Soviets at the end of World War II and explains many of the horrors that the protagonist faced and the struggle of the inhabitants to survive.[3]

The German writer Kurt Marek (C. W. Ceram) was responsible for its initial publication in America in 1954.

In September 2003 (when Hillers' identity was first revealed), requests for access to the original diaries was not granted, and Christian Esch writing in the Berliner Zeitung stated that if the work was to be fully accepted as an authentic account this was necessary, because as he pointed out the text itself indicates that changes were made between the initial handwritten diaries and the typed manuscript which was then translated into English and published for the first time nearly a decade after the events, and that there are minor discrepancies between editions.[1]

Subsequently, Walter Kempowski examined the notes on behalf of the publishing house and stated that it was a genuine diary Hillers kept at the time, though the typescript and the published book contain material not in the diary.[4] Antony Beevor, a British historian who has written a detailed history on the Battle of Berlin, confirmed its authenticity by comparing its content with his own detailed knowledge of the period and the other primary sources he has accumulated.[5][6][7][8][9]



A film adaptation of the book was made in 2008 by Max Färberböck.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b Christian Esch (2003). Eine belanglose Person? (A Trivial person?), Berliner Zeitung, 25 September 2003
  2. ^ Gottesmann, Christoph (11 September 2005). "letter to the editor: 'A Woman in Berlin'". New York Times: review section, p. 6.. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/11/books/review/11letters.html?pagewanted=all.  for the "navy recruiting brochure"
  3. ^ Halley, Janet (2008). "Rape in Berlin: Reconsidering the Criminalisation of Rape in the International Law of Armed Conflict. Chapter: A Reading A Woman in Berlin, Reading Rape". Melbourne Journal of International Law 9 (1): 78. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/MelbJIL/2008/3.html#Heading215. 
  4. ^ Güntner, Joachim (19 January 2004). "Eine Frau in Berlin". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. http://www.nzz.ch/2004/01/19/fe/article9CNMS.html. 
  5. ^ Halley, Janet (2008). "Rape in Berlin: Reconsidering the Criminalisation of Rape in the International Law of Armed Conflict". Melbourne Journal of International Law 9 (1): 78. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/MelbJIL/2008/3.html. 
  6. ^ Beevor, Antony (2002). The Fall of Berlin 1945. 
  7. ^ Kempowski, Walter (20 January 2004). "Unchanging Tone: No Doubt about "A Woman in Berlin"". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 
  8. ^ Beevor, Antony (2005), "Introduction", in Anonymous, A Woman in Berlin, p. xvi 
  9. ^ Beevor, Antony (25 September 2005). "Letter to the editor: A Woman in Berlin". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0CE4D71E31F936A1575AC0A9639C8B63. 
  10. ^ Anonyma - Eine Frau in Berlin (English title: Woman in Berlin), entry in the British Film Institute database, retrieved 15 June 2010

External links