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Publisher's Summary

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 Berliners in all their humanity as well as their cravenness, corrupted first by hunger and then by the Russians. "Spare and unpredictable, minutely observed and utterly free of self-pity" (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland), A Woman in Berlin tells of the complex World War II relationship between civilians and an occupying army and the shameful indignities to which women in a conquered city are always subject - the mass rape suffered by all, regardless of age or infirmity.

A Woman in Berlin stands as "one of the essential books for understanding war and life" (AS Byatt, author of Possession).

©2002 Hannelore Marek. Copyright AB – Die Andere Bibliothek GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin 2011 (First published by Eichborn Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2003). Translation copyright 2005 by Philip Boehm. Foreword copyright 2005 by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. Introduction copyright 2005 by Antony Beevor. (P)2017 Macmillan Audio

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What listeners say about A Woman in Berlin

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Brutal Honesty

Where does A Woman in Berlin rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Very high

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Woman in Berlin?

I wouldn't phrase the constant rapes and memorable... but they were certainly standouts. Today's society talks about problems... but frankly our problems pale in comparison to what some of our forebears endured. Its humbling to know our lives have been spared many atrocities that others have not.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Survival is enough

9 people found this helpful

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Interesting

This story told a part of WW II we normally don't hear about. I was disappointed in the narration, it was a German woman's diary, and it was read with a United States
mid-western accent. I wished it would have been read by someone with a German accent.Audible usually takes so much care in getting the right accent for the narration.

8 people found this helpful

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Fascinating

What so impressed me about this book was the diary itself. I’m amazed.

When I kept a diary, it was a few disjointed sentences with no context or explanation – this woman wrote novellas with each entry! Just the time that must have taken blows me away.

The content is fascinating of course, well worth the read.

6 people found this helpful

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Among the best war literature written

This reads like a first-rate novel, but every word is true. Horrifyingly true. And the reader delivers a brilliant performance. A must listen...

2 people found this helpful

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Extremely poor translation - or a fake diary

I can see why so many have questioned if this diary is real or not - the english translation is extremely poor, seemingly needlessly modernized, and if it wasn't modernized then it's a fake in my opinion. I've literally read hundreds of WW2 books and dozens of diaries from that time, including ones from women, and none of them read like this. Yes, I get there are different writing styles and dark humor is a way people often deal with situations, but by no other books from this timeframe read like this I mean none use the language used here, none use this style of pacing, the types of sentences, etc. There's all sorts of tells that this diary, as presented, isn't authentic, including the way overused phrase, 'you couldn't make this up'. Well, yes, yes you could make it up pretty easily. Additionally many of the stories presented here I've heard before in books that were written before this was ever released. Again, yes, many people suffered from the same abuses, that doesn't mean it's not real, just combined, the story, the writing, the pacing, it just comes off as inauthentic. In fact this translation reads like it was written by a white American feminist in the 80s - which, according to the intro, was exactly the case. Seemingly much of the language was 'updated' to make it more 'relatable', that's how I read a lot of it anyways. Because of this it comes off as extremely inauthentic and constantly the book made me think this is fake. Again, I've read extensively about WW2, the last days of Berlin in particular, the events in the book are very credible, the mass rapes did happen - but I do not believe the events as presented in this translation. Hopefully a straight translation will sooner or later be made available - but if this is a good translation, I can see why so many people have rejected this book as being fake.

As for the reader it was another poor choice. The reader reads this as if it's a romance novel - and doesn't at all have the gravitas you'd want for a story like this. Yes, the book uses a bunch of dark humor, but still the reader just isn't a good pick. Additionally the reader often would finish a story while still going up in the sentence, so whatever was being emphasized was missed, thus taking a joke or lighthearted comment and making it sound like a statement. I think the reader got better at not doing this as the story went along, but it's also possible I just became used to it and learned to ignore it, I'm really not sure.

Overall I'd still give this book 2-stars, assuming it is in fact a real diary. If you've never ever read a WW2 book before and you don't care about massive liberties being taken with the original source material - then I guess this is better than nothing since there isn't a lot like this on Audible and if you don't know the massive war atrocities that took place at the hands of the socialists - in particular as there is a huge surge in socalist sympathizers today in America that literally don't know a single thing about what they support.

5 people found this helpful

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A Woman in Berlin is a Eye Opening Book

I lived in Berlin from 1984 to 1990. it was a great bustling city. The author takes us back to when it was all rubble when the allies stopped and let the Russian take the city. Rape and the Russian army just go together but the author of this book opens our eyes as to what it was like on a daily basis many time a day in some case. The women of Berlin continued on and at a great cost I really enjoyed this book and the narration was perfect.

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I can see why the women of Berlin didn't like this

I can certainly see why the women of Berlin didn't like this book. For anyone who studies this topic of history, this account really does seem like an account of someone who got off very easy, compared to most of the rest of the female population of Berlin. I can't be certain of the authenticity, but assuming that it is authentic, it covers very little of the torture that was perpetrated against the German population. The author speaks of "shoeing away" the Russian soldiers, and flirting to manipulate her circumstances. How nice for her. Here are some examples I've read from other sources:
1) lines of 20-30 soldiers standing in queue waiting for their turn (this is mentioned a couple times in the book, when she received the accounts of other women),
2) German men who protested the rape of their women were castrated, shot, or both.
3) When Russian soldiers were too drunk to complete the act, they would often use objects such as wine bottles and telephone receivers on the women.
4) Many - if not most - of the women who underwent these tortures would literally beg for death, in vain. "Soldier, kill me please!" was a very common refrain.
This book is a harrowing account, but it doesn't come close to telling the whole story. A good documentary for anyone wanting to learn more about this is "Hellstorm: The Real Genocide of Nazi Germany", on YouTube.

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Very sad story

I'm not one yo comment or write long reviews so here goes...excellent and highly recommend.

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heartbreaking, and insightful.

a well written, and read historical account of the vanquished becoming the spoils of the victor.

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Written by Marta Hillers

The book was written by Marta Hillers and it’s known fact since 2003 and i have no clue why it’s been called Anonymous writer.
As well as numbers in history note is not correct it’s not 100,000 rapes in first couple years of “glorious” red army been in germany the number was about 2,000,000. Some of the women been raped more than 10 times, some girls been raped aby 40-50 people at the same time, one by one ( read Leonid Rabichevs - War will erase it all, memories of radio operator solder of 31s army).
Cruel face of inhumane non humans fight with non humans.

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  • hans
  • 05-16-17

Great all around, even the narrator !

Where does A Woman in Berlin rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This has been the best all around I have in months !

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The story and great narrator,