A Woman in Berlin

By Anonymous, Philip Boehm (translator),

Book cover of A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City

Book description

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

For eight weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army, a young woman kept a daily record of life in her apartment building and among its residents. "With bald honesty and brutal lyricism" (Elle), the anonymous author depicts her fellow…


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4 authors picked A Woman in Berlin as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Just like Api’s diary, A Woman in Berlin begins on April 20, 1945, and she, too, writes daily to maintain her sanity in a world of chaos and death. The author, who wanted to remain anonymous, gives a clear-eyed perspective of a woman alone, trapped in Berlin, fighting starvation and the terrors of Soviet invasion. For women above all this meant rape. They tried to hide in the ruins, make themselves look old, dress up as men. Nevertheless, Soviet soldiers raped over 100,000 women. I read in Api’s diary that Berlin doctors soon began to perform then illegal abortions for…

This is the diary of a German journalist, living in Berlin in April-May 1945, describing life in the city as the Nazi regime collapsed and the Red Army advanced on a binge of rape and looting. It’s not easy reading - a portrait not only of how women, faced with horrific abuse, manipulate their oppressors in order to survive, but the exigencies of daily life as civil society breaks down. Its publication history is almost as interesting as the book itself – first published anonymously in the 1950s, its German audience refused to endorse it. Re-published in 2003, after the…

When the Russians seized bombed-out Berlin near the end of WWII, it was a landscape of rubble where the surviving Germans lacked the most basic necessities: food, water, and heat. Women fared much worse than men because of a terror campaign of rape directed at them by the conquering Russian soldiers. This memoir, describing eight weeks living under siege, was written by a courageous journalist who watched her neighbors with a keen Berliner's eye, and who did whatever was necessary in order to survive while still trying to keep her dignity intact. Heroism in the face of adversity takes many…

From Gershen's list on conquering adversity.

This is a harrowing account of a woman’s experience as the Red Army raged through Berlin in the final days of the war. Sadly, the women of Berlin were another group that paid the price for Hitler’s warped vision. The author, who for most of the book’s life remained anonymous, was later revealed as a journalist, Marta Hillers. Hillers conveys the fear and the constant disorder, while carving out a grim existence that causes her to almost give up emotionally, and during what she calls the “sexual spoils”. She describes how she and the other women were “spoken for” by…

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