by Karen Van Drie
This is a very compelling wartime diary of what a women experienced living in Berlin at the end of World War II. The keeper of this diary, which she originally published anonymously, describes the daily struggle to stay alive as her national leaders, nation-state, and city fell to an invading Soviet Army.
The author doesn’t try to evade responsibility as a German citizen for the rise of Nazi Germany, saying ‘we all breathed the same air.’ It’s that clear-eyed lack of evasion for how she participated in the making of her nation’s reality that makes her account ring true. Yet, her humility as one small cog in the war machine, and her humor in trying to cope with the inhumane, make this wartime diary an essential read for people learning about how war and out-of-the-ordinary trauma impact the home front. There are lessons within this book of how women helped each other cope – unheeded outside of wartime.
This book is an appropriate read for book clubs as there is much nuance to discuss. A movie has also been made of the book so a book discussion and movie showing could be easily combined.