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I thought I had made a mistake when I started listening to this diary: date, three or four sentence entry; next date, another short entry; another date, another short entry, etc., etc.
This is 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 more menacing and encroaches on the lives of herself and her sister Tatiana and their wonderfully large and diverse circle of friends and relatives, who seem to be fighting or suffering on all sides in the war.
As the diary progresses it takes hold. It is not retrospective, written at leisure in hindsight: it's a record of the war in triumphant and then losing Germany day by day as seen from the eyes of an apolitical young woman. She obviously doesn't like the Nazis but she works for a branch of the Foreign Ministry and likes some of her bosses and hates others. She's a moral person in a crazy upside-down world but just gets on with things. Her male acquaintances from her former life are in the German, French, British, Italian and American armies and she just hopes they'll all survive the madness. Obviously, some don't. She grieves the death of one young friend, a Luftwaffe pilot who shot down 63 American planes. He was no Nazi, he wanted to kill Hitler, he just got caught up in his role in the war from which there was no escape -- except death.
Missy gets caught up in the conspiracy to kill Hitler which failed after the bomb attempt on July 20, 1944, after which the arrests and widening circle of executions began. This is probably one of the best first-hand records of that time that exists. And the bombing: 600,000 people lost their lives in Germany compared to 62,000 in Britain during the Blitz.
The writing is not extraordinary. It is the events which are extraordinary.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
This is taken directly from the diaries of a Russian aristocrat whose family had fled the USSR after the Revolution and who finds herself in Berlin struggling to make a living during the war. Despite it being from diary entries, it is not dry and the narrative flows along nicely. For those who enjoy reading about this period, it is a different perspective from a brave and likable person. I'm glad I gave this a try.