Saturday, August 04, 2012

Berlin at War

I have already been to Berlin, about ten years ago when I was researching for my book about Alfred Wegener.

I am revisiting the city again now - this time only in my imagination. It is a slightly different era - the second world war - but I think I am getting a very good impression of the place it was by immersing myself in memoirs: The Berlin Diaries of Marie 'Missie' Vassiltchikov (already read), The Past is Myself by Christabel Bielenberg (Kindle), and A different Kind of Courage - the memoir of Gretel Wachtel

(these written by women of three different nationalities: Russian, English, and German, and the last is based in Hamburg); a novel: Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada and a non-fiction book: Berlin at War by Roger Moorhouse.

I am supplementing the written word with a couple of films: Valkyrie directed by Bryan Singer

and, I hope, Downfall directed by Oliver Hirschblegel.

I keep seeing similarities between other places and other times - each dominated by charismatic megalomaniacs - and wonder how they came to not only rule but attract a nation of devoted acolytes.


Blogger Jessica Maybury said...

that sounds absolutely fascinating. I have a massive, massive obsession with WW2. I've never heard of those books before? It's always the documentaries with me.

I'm getting into the GDR now though. It's horrible but you can't look away.

What did you think of the films?
I have Goodbye, Lenin to watch and the one about the angels (which I can't remember what it's called & amn't looking up because well, I'm lazy).

Thanks so much for the book suggestions.

Tue Aug 07, 05:29:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Hi Jessica - I completely agree...I've almost finished the Berlin at War book and think it brilliant! I learnt so much - lots of stuff I kind of knew about but now make more sense. Another one that has really impressed me is A Different Kind of Courage. It's not well known but it's one of those books that deserve more of an audience. It's about a very ordinary German, but she was so courageous in many ways.

I've just seen Valkyrie so far - LoveFilm keep ignoring my top rating for Downfall - and I wasn't that impressed to be honest. It was interesting and well done, but there just wasn't that much to it.

Maybe I'm going to have to progress onto the GDR next...:-)

Tue Aug 07, 09:26:00 pm  

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