A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous
Eight Weeks in the Conquered City--A Diary

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Synopsis

An astonishing find-the landmark journal of a woman living though the Russian occupation of Berlin-which has already earned comparisons to diaries by Etty Hillesum and Victor Klemperer

For six weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army, a young woman, alone in the city, kept a daily record of her and her neighbors' experiences, determined to describe the common lot of millions.

Purged of all self-pity but with laser-sharp observation and bracing humor, the anonymous author conjures up a ravaged apartment building and its little group of residents struggling to get by in the rubble without food, heat, or water. Clear-eyed and unsentimental, she depicts her fellow Berliners in all their humanity as well as their cravenness, corrupted first by hunger and then by the Russians. And with shocking and vivid detail, she tells of the shameful indignities to which women in a conquered city are always subject: the mass rape suffered by all, regardless of age or infirmity. Through this ordeal, she maintains her resilience, decency, and fierce will to come through her city's trial, until normalcy and safety return.

At once an essential record and a work of great literature, A Woman in Berlin not only reveals a true heroine, sure to join other enduring figures of the twentieth century, but also gives voice to the rarely heard victims of war: the women.
 

About Anonymous

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Anonymous was a young woman at the time of the fall of Berlin. She was a journalist and editor during and after the war.
 
Published August 4, 2005 by Metropolitan Books. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Woman in Berlin

Kirkus Reviews

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Life goes on!” Many women adopt gallows humor, saying, “Better a Russki on top than a Yank overhead.” Using a strategy adopted by many, the author seduces a high-ranking Russian officer: “I have to find a single wolf to keep away the pack,” she explains.

Jun 01 2005 | Read Full Review of A Woman in Berlin: Eight Week...

The New York Times

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It is dispiriting that shame or fear of social ostracism caused her to hide behind the label Anonymous (her fiance left her when he heard about the rapes), but even anonymously she has given us something that transcends shame and fear: the ability to see war as its victims see it.

Aug 14 2005 | Read Full Review of A Woman in Berlin: Eight Week...

The New York Times

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That population was largely female and the dramatic events here are rapes -- repeated rapes, group rapes, violent rapes, accommodating rapes.

Aug 14 2005 | Read Full Review of A Woman in Berlin: Eight Week...

The Guardian

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A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous 320pp, Virago, £16.99 In the early stages of the Yugoslav war, allegations of mass rape of Croatian and Bosnian women by Serb militias appeared in British newspapers and were dismissed as propaganda by some broadsheets or treated with predictable sensationalis...

Jul 02 2005 | Read Full Review of A Woman in Berlin: Eight Week...

Publishers Weekly

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Her story illustrates the horror war brings to the lives of women when the battles are waged near a home front (rather than a traditional battlefield).

Jun 06 2005 | Read Full Review of A Woman in Berlin: Eight Week...

Entertainment Weekly

Upon finding a passionate prewar love letter hidden at the back of a drawer, she writes, ''Evidently a sophisticated, discriminating love life requires three square meals a day.'' Fortunately, a sophisticated, discriminating diary can be composed under more dire circumstances.

Jul 22 2005 | Read Full Review of A Woman in Berlin: Eight Week...

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