Germany surrenders and suddenly the temperature is lowered at least 50 degrees: that is, Russian soldiers stop terrorizing the populace and begin to practice some restraint.

The narrator looks back on what she has endured and tries to puzzle out her future (The “red flag” she refers to in the passage below must be the Russian flag: She was enamored enough of Communism — idealistic enough — to travel around Russia. She even enrolled in school in Moscow. That must have been why, when the Russian soldiers arrived, she tried to practice her Russian on them. Poor, naive woman!)

When I was young, the red flag seemed like such a bright beacon, but there’s no way back to that now, not for me: the sum of tears is constant in Moscow, too. And I long ago lost my childhood piety, so that God and the Beyond have become mere symbols and abstractions. Should I believe in progress? . . . The happiness of the greater number? . . . An idyll in a quiet corner? Sure, for people who comb the fringes of their rugs. Possessions, contentment? I have to keep from laughing, homeless urban nomad that I am. Love? Lies trampled on the ground. And were it ever to rise again, I would always be anxious, could never find true refuge, would never again dare for permanence.

A Woman in Berlin, p. 176

Germany After

But our country is despondent, our people are in pain. We’ve been led by criminals and gamblers, and we’ve let them lead us, like sheep to the slaughter. And now the people are miserable, smoldering with hate. “No tree is high enough for him,” I heard someone say of Adolf this morning at the pump.

A Woman in Berlin, p. 131

A reprieve for the narrator and the other people in the building: some German men show up at the apartment building with wooden planks. This they nail against the back door. Later, a Russian tries to gain entry but even after kicking hard, the boards hold.

It turns out the strongest door in the entire building belonged to a bookseller. Neither he nor his wife were bothered by any Russian soldiers. So booksellers were like elite, in pre-war Berlin? Books had great value? Why else would a bookseller build such a sturdy door?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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