Jennie's Reviews > A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary

A Woman in Berlin by Marta Hillers
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's review
Dec 14, 08

really liked it
Read in December, 2008

I just finished this book and I'm sorting out my feelings about it. On the one hand, it is truly incredible, this woman's story of what happened in Berlin when Germany lost and the Russians arrived. I'd like to read more about rape as a tool of war - it's an interesting concept. What she chose to do during this time would make for an INCREDIBLE discussion amongst women.
On the other hand, I can't help but say I wouldn't do the same, given the same circumstances. If I were single, with no one depending on me, I would not let myself be violated. Survival, as what? Survival does not matter that much to me. And the men! One man listened to his wife being raped by two Russians. I'm sorry, but any who knows Aaron would know this would not happen. I know these husbands did it to protect themselves, but how could you live with a man who listened to you being raped, again and again, and he did nothing in order to save his own skin? I do know one thing - if my daughter were of any age to be of interest to an invading army, I'd have her under lock and key like so many of the others. I would do anything to protect my family.
Really, would love to discuss this book with a group someday. It's that thought-provoking.
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Comments (showing 1-2)

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message 2: by J (new) - rated it 4 stars

J Cravens Thanks for sharing your honest opinion online. Since you said you would love to discuss this: the reality is that you don't really know what you would do in a similar circumstance. Often, the author, and other women like her, had no choice in being raped -- for instance, when she was thrown down in the hallway and raped by two men. How could she have stopped that? She couldn't have. The only way she could have avoided being raped would have been to have killed herself. And, certainly, that's an option. But it's easy to say "I would *never* do such and such" from the warm comfort of your home, with food in the fridge and no chance of anyone beating down your door. But when truly faced with survival, people make very hard choices, choices they would never, ever have contemplated otherwise -- perhaps, indeed, even you. I don't condemn the author at all for the choices she made, because while I would like to think I could have somehow avoided such a situation, I also know that I have never faced such a situation, and having worked with so many, many women who have lived in war zones, I know that very good people have to sometimes make very awful choices in order to survive.

message 1: by Jennie (last edited Jan 05, 2009 07:05AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jennie But is survival the only option? I suppose I should qualify this statement with the fact that I'm a Christian, that I believe in life after death, that family relationships exist beyond this life. In that light, I don't think that survival is the only choice. She didn't have to kill herself. Others were not raped. No, she couldn't have stopped the rape by the two men who threw her down the hall. But her choices after wards are not ones I would make. I would not kill myself were I raped. But it became something she submitted to selectively, which leads me to believe that she could have avoided it altogether.
I guess this is why I can say I would never. I don't know any "very good people" who have had to make awful choices in order to survive. There still is a sense of right and wrong. You don't have to do anything. But I come from a different belief system I suppose. If you believe that this life is all there is, then you would do anything to survive it. But there are several things I can say I would not do, even from the comfort of my home.

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