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Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  965 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
The secret diaries of a twenty-three-year-old White Russian princess who worked in the German Foreign Office from 1940 to 1944 and then as a nurse, these pages give us a unique picture of wartime life in that sector of German society from which the 20th of July Plot -- the conspiracy to kill Hitler -- was born.

Includes index.
Paperback, 324 pages
Published June 12th 1988 by Vintage (first published 1985)
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Aug 30, 2009 Sue rated it it was amazing
Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945, is an amazing WWII diary of an émigré Russian princess who was secretary to Adam von Trott, mastermind of the unsuccessful 20th of July plot to assassinate Hitler. Missie Vassiltchikov’s account of Berlin in the furious days of Hitler’s retribution is unique. While she was not part of the plot, she knew many of the principals. Her familiarity with many of the plotters no doubt gives this book great historical importance, and it is also an excellent source for understan ...more
I was hesitant to choose this book. I was worried that I would be put off by snobby views and the luxurious lifestyle I was expecting of the main protagonist - a Russian princess. Wouldn’t I find the abundance of privileges in comparison to how others were living unpalatable? The author was not snobbish! Yes, they did sometimes eat oysters and caviar and drink champagne, but she was intelligent and well-educated and perceptive of others. Her friends and acquaintances were interesting people to l ...more
Jul 16, 2012 Kristin rated it it was amazing
Final review: i remember why I loved this book. Her ability to communicate the excitement, anxiety and fear during these war years is absolutely unparalleled. And the inside story on the plot to kill Hitler... And she does it all through unselfconscious diary entries and letters. Loved this book.

I'm about halfway through at this point, and just loving it. I read this book when I was in college and remembered that I had really enjoyed it. Now I remember why. I'm not a huge non-fiction reader so t
Aug 22, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
A day to day account of an exiled RUssian princess during WWII in the middle of the hell Berlin was 1940-45. Also is such an interesting perspective because she was attending royal functions and rubbing elbows with lots of dukes and duchesses while starving and working as a secretary. She also was involved in the anti-fascist scene, friends with those who tried to kill Hitler in 1943. Typical day: work for the SS office as secretary, walk home through burning Berlin, find an invitation to some r ...more
Andey Hix
Jan 02, 2008 Andey Hix rated it it was amazing
Exceptional. As I read this book, I realized I was reading slower and slower because I did not want the book to end. Small details of civilian daily life in Berlin--that you don't usually have an opportunity to read about--filled this book.
Charles Mccain
Sep 27, 2010 Charles Mccain rated it it was amazing
In my research for my novel, An Honorable German, this was an indipensible book. The reason: the rich detail Missie recorded about her daily life in Berlin including what it was like to live in the city during the years it was constantly being bombed. This is one of the few contemporaneous diaries from that time. She was a beautiful White Russian Royal Princess, as she reminds us several times, and kept up her active social life amisdst the slow collapse of Berlin. In doing so, she recorded deta ...more
Jul 08, 2016 Sandeep rated it liked it
This book offers a unique and extraordinary glimpse into the life of the people during those terrible and unforgivable air raids made by Allies. The terror, hopelessness, confusion and dismay comes through very well in the lines Missie penned down in her diary, day after day.

Her writings touch beautifully on the days immediately after the failed July 20th attempt on Hitler and how the purging process spread fear amongst the plotters, even those remotely connected with the plot had a lot to fear
Brendan Lyons
Jul 01, 2012 Brendan Lyons rated it really liked it
I thought I had made a mistake when I started reading this diary: date, three or four sentence entry; next date, another short entry; another date, another short entry, etc., etc.

This is definitely not a literary work, as such. It's just a record of what happened every day. What sets it apart from most other works of its kind is that the author ("Missy") a young exiled White Russian aristocrat more or less exiled in Nazi Germany has to make a living and deal with events as the war becomes ever m
Martha Bratton
Apr 05, 2016 Martha Bratton rated it really liked it
Another fascinating and grueling day-by-day account of WWII in Germany and how ideologues can take control of millions of lives without having majority support. It is very confusing to understand how it could have happened, and I hope we aren't heading for the same thing.

After "living" with Marie (Missie) daily for a couple of years through her diary, I felt pulled into the milieu and could accept the divided loyalties and the privileged dinners with various displaced European royals who enjoyed
Dan Hiland
Mar 04, 2015 Dan Hiland rated it liked it
This is either a wonderful book to read, or a bore, depending on what you like.

For history buffs, it's a treasure trove. Marie's journal entries are interspersed with historical annotations (made many years later by her brother George). Italicized, to set them off from the diary entries, they add perspective and illumination to the things Marie is describing. There are maps in the front, 16 pages of photographs near the volume's midpoint, and a detailed 10-page index at the end. But for those o
Jul 04, 2013 Patty rated it it was ok
This is difficult. I love this topic and was quite prepared to love this book. The author was a White Russian whose aristocratic family escaped Stalin's terror and fled to Germany just before World War II. She was part of a crowd that was linked to the ill-fated July 20th attempt to assassinate Hitler. So, everything was is place for the perfect book. Not so. Until the actual attempt on Hitler's life, the diary entries are slogs through a catalog of the aristocracy of Eastern Europe and Germany, ...more
Dec 01, 2008 Denis rated it it was amazing
The diary of a Russian exiled young woman who lived in Berlin during WWII. Extraordinary and mesmerizing. Witness History through the eyes of a young girl who slowly discovers the reality of the world around her, and survives the horrors of war (while losing many of her closest friends). it's a true diary, and day by day, year by year, it takes the reader on an intense journey through the darkest time of Germany's history. The apocalyptic ending is breathtaking. Nicole Kidman bought the rights o ...more
Oct 05, 2014 Skyler rated it liked it
The author's purpose for writing this book is to show the inside version of what happened during WWII. Since she worked within the government, she had more of an inside look than lots of people during that time. She told what happened during those years and gave a very detailed description.
The theme of the book is to simply not to repeat genocide and how WWII affected everything. Almost every book that was written about this era has the same theme. Marie shows Hitler's plans and how she couldn
Jan 23, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
I read this in the late 80's. It was common person's perceptions of what was going on all around her. A mix of slice of life and historical witness. It gave me an idea of what it was like to live in a city that was constantly being bombed. While she did not support Germany she did have German friends.
Oct 19, 2012 Lesley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-bio
I read this in two days, simply couldn't put it down.I found this book fascinating, The diary of a Russian exiled young woman who lived in Berlin during WWII. Extraordinary and mesmerizing. Witness History through the eyes of a young girl who survives the horrors of war. excellant book a must read.
Dec 16, 2007 Becky rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This isn't just a historical book. Its a diary written by a white russian princess during World War II. A true story it follows her travels throughout the war as she lived and worked in Berlin but continued to live a life amidst bombs, lack of services and war.
Mar 12, 2008 Alec rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I love this book. Such an interesting glimpse into life in Berlin during WWII, told from the perspective of a foreign aristocrat. The author notes not only the trivia of daily life but also talks about the times and how they affect her and her life.
Apr 21, 2007 V rated it it was amazing
An incredible view of WW2 and the Holocaust as it was happening. Vassiltchikov was able to act as observer and later in collaboration with freedom fighters as they sought to put an end to Hitler's regime. Marvelous perspective.
May 03, 2008 Shelley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a fascinating glimpse into WWII from the point of view of a 'White' (Royalists or anti-Communists) Russian. I don't read too much non-fiction, so this really stands out in my memory as an intriguing book.
Feb 21, 2008 Eileen rated it it was amazing
This is a tremendous first-person account of wartime (WWII) Germany, written by a White Russian princess.

Her transition from spoiled post-deb to capable adult is remarkable.

An excellent book, and worth owning.
May 05, 2015 Tomi rated it liked it
The diaries were kept by a White Russian emigre who lives in Berlin and Vienna during WWII. She was involved with many of the people who tried to kill Hitler - the Stauffenberg Plot. Her diaries give a very different picture of wartime life; most of what I have read depicts horrible conditions, starvation, death, and just general misery. This woman was an aristocrat and lived a much more pleasant lifestyle. Parties and dinners every night, trips to country estates, new hats on a regular basis... ...more
Nov 26, 2012 Lindsay rated it did not like it
I did not enjoy this book at all! I normally really enjoy memoirs from WWII but this novel felt like a lot of name dropping and really didn't get into any heartfelt thoughts or emotions.
Feb 13, 2016 Ruth rated it did not like it
Okay, I lied. I did not finish this book. It is a diary, indeed. Of a woman who seems to be not too bright. It is interspersed with italicized bits to give the reader some idea of what is going on in Berlin. From 1940-1945! You would think Marie would have a lot to say, and she does--about dinner parties she went to with Count this and Baron that. She is a terrible writer. It's kind of like reading a teenager's diary: I went; I did. I would never have tried to read this idiotic book were it not ...more
Feb 17, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing
history world war II--memoirs,
Feb 17, 2008 Pamina rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 23, 2011 Laura rated it it was ok
Pretty damn boring.
Sep 17, 2015 Callie rated it really liked it
Not to sound too precious about this book, but it does feel like a gift. It was a privilege to read it! And I try to avoid that word, privilege.
A woman living in Berlin during WWII and writing in her diary about it. So compelling. What I LOVED about it is that it is NOT a retrospective. She doesn't know how things will turn out, and she's not going back and reshaping things (or at least there's very little of that--she does add some letters and give context here and there when the diary breaks
The diary of a girl from a white Russian family (the white Russians were anti-communists) that fled Russia after the Reds took over. They initially went to Lithuania but then fled to Germany to get further away from the Russian sphere of power. But they could not out-run the war. The author ended up working for the diplomatic corps as a translator since she was fluent in several languages. She knew and worked with several people involved (and executed because of) the plot to kill Hitler. She pro ...more
Karen Meyers
Sep 10, 2014 Karen Meyers rated it really liked it
Utterly engrossing. If the preface to the book is correct, this diary is the only first-hand account of the 20th of July plot to kill Hitler. (It seems plausible, as Hitler went on a rampage afterwards, hunting down and killing any person he thought might have been involved.) Though it's uncertain just how much Missie knew at the time of the plot, there is no doubt that she was very close to those who planned it. The book also functions as a fascinating account of daily life in wartime Berlin. Y ...more
Jan 05, 2010 Boyd rated it really liked it
I hadn't heard anything about this book before I bought it, and I picked it up mostly because I thought it might provide an interesting preamble to another striking diary I'd read some time ago, A WOMAN IN BERLIN, set in the city in the immediate aftermath of the Russian invasion. It did that--I learned that Berlin and its residents were pretty much destroyed long before the Russians got there--but I found it fascinating in its own right because it focuses mainly on a section of society, the Eur ...more
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Around the World: Germany: Anne Recommends Berlin Diaries: 1940-1945 4 13 Dec 04, 2011 09:59PM  
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