Simon's Reviews > Milena: The Tragic Story of Kafka's Great Love

Milena by Margarete Buber-Neumann
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's review
Mar 19, 2012

it was amazing
Read in July, 2001

Milena By Margarete Buber-Neumann
(The Tragic story of Kafka's Great Love)

The long awaited follow up to the incredible
Under Two Dictators, that was her own
autobiography as a German Communist who when
Hilter was rising to power emigrated to Russia,
only to discover real Communists were not very
popular under Stalin. So she was arrested along
with her husband, and was sent from the Butyrka
Prison in Moscow and then to the Siberian Gulags,
and then got traded by Stalin for some Russians
he wanted from Hitler. Hitler then threw her into
Ravensbruck for the rest of world War 2, it was
while in the concentration camp that she met and
fell in love with Milena Jesenska the Wild child
of Prague, who helped her to try and help as many
of the other inmates to survive as possible, two
truely remarkable women.
So Greta tells the story in partial flashback
from how Milena told her things in the camp and
what she has meticulously researched, from he
youth as the Daughter of a prominent Dentist,
going off the rails and taking Cocaine and all
sorts of other drugs, while have the ability to
bewitch and seduce all sorts of poets writers and
artists, including Kafka whose letters to Milena
the book heavily quotes from. She spent a lot of
time partying with Franz, and it gives a very
different insight into his work as well.
Milena was also a journalist and it was through
the honesty of her articles in saying the truth
of what was happening that got her arrested after
the Germans invaded Prague.
But before that she got to suffer horribly at the
hands of her father and his friends when she was
pregnant, it makes me think men should never be
doctors during pregnancy, as how can you really
know what type of pain a pregnant woman might be
in, in this case the doctor told her it would
pass and not to be such a sissy!!
Needless to say untreated her pain developed into
septicemia and her Father and his Doctor friend
decided she had to have morphine, she ended up
badly addicted to it, and only really got off it
after being sent to Ravensbruck, where she spent
the last four years of her life doing what she
could to help others to survive it, before dying
10 days before the D-Day landings.
A Brilliant book that I loved reading, thanks to
Arcade Through Little, Brown and Company for
publishing it, and hopefully they will re-issue
Under two Dictators soon as I still want to own a
copy of that incredible book.
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