Coda

Anonymous = Marta Hillers

She moved to Switzerland and passed away 2001. A Woman in Berlin, first published in the 1950s, was re-published after her death and immediately caused a sensation. Self desperately hopes that the rest of Hillers’s life was happy.

Friday, June 15, 1945:

I found a copy of Tolstoy’s Polikushka and read that for the umpteenth time. Then I plowed through a collection of plays by Aeschylus and came across The Persians, which, with its lamentations of the vanquished, seems on the surface well suited to our defeat. But in reality it’s not. Our German calamity has a bitter taste — of repulsion, sickness, insanity, unlike anything in history. The radio just broadcast another concentration camp report. The most horrific thing is the order and the thrift: millions of human beings as fertilizer, mattress stuffing, soft soap, felt mats — Aeschylus never saw anything like that.

Saturday, June 16, 1945:

I haven’t been writing. And I won’t be, either — that time is now over.

A Woman in Berlin, p. 257

SPOILER ALERT

Gerd, the long-absent boyfriend, resurfaces, well-fed and healthy. In shock, he tells the author: “You’ve all turned into a bunch of shameless bitches, every one of you in the building. Don’t you realize?” He grimaced in disgust. “It’s horrible being around you.”

She gives Gerd her diaries, “there are three notebooks full.” He says he can’t find his way through the scribbling.

“For example, what’s that supposed to mean?” Gerd asks, pointing to Schdg.

Schandung,” of course — rape. “He looked at me as if I were out of my mind but said nothing more.

A Woman in Berlin, p. 260

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self’s 2021 in Films

The Century 20 was closed for six months last year. It opened up sporadically, with a few screenings of a handful of blockbuster films. It only started to get back to regular screenings of new movies this past summer.

Self loves movies. She loves watching movies in theaters. As soon as theaters re-opened, she was there.

She didn’t realize how many films she’d seen this year until she started compiling this list.

Liked (She asterisked her favorites)

  • A Quiet Place Part 2
  • Belfast*
  • Chaos Walking
  • Dune*
  • Fast and Furious 9
  • Licorice Pizza
  • Stillwater
  • The King’s Man
  • The Last Duel*
  • The Power of the Dog*
  • Wrath of Man

Meh:

  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  • No Time to Die
  • Spenser
  • The Green Knight
  • West Side Story

Loathed:

  • Venom
  • Zola

Life Goes On

Far from being bleak, as this book nears the finish line, eight weeks after the Soviet Army occupied Berlin, stories of individual women who managed to avoid the Russian soldiers emerge (All throughout this book, self would just like to say, the narrator’s comparisons of the Russians with Berliners showed how much more open Berliners’ sexuality was. For instance, no Russian soldiers propositioning German men — this was worthy of notice!):

Stinchen, the eighteen-year-old student, has finally come down from the crawl space. The scars from the flying rubble have healed. She played the part of the well-bred daughter from a good home perfectly, carrying a pot of real tea from the kitchen and listening politely to our conversation. Apparently our young girl who looks like a young man also managed to come through safely. I mentioned that I’d seen her in the stairwell last night. She was arguing with another girl, someone in a white sweater, tan and quite pretty but vulgar and unbridled in her swearing. Over tea I found out that it was a jealous spat: the tanned girl had taken up with a Russian officer . . . more or less voluntarily — drinking with him and accepting food. This evidently irked her young friend, who is an altruistic kind of lover, constantly giving the other girl presents and doing this and that for her over the past several years. We discussed all of this calmly and offhandedly over a proper tea. No judgment, no verdict. We no longer whisper. We don’t hesitate to use certain words, to voice certain things, certain ideas. They come out of our mouths casually as if we were channeling them from Sirius.

A Woman in Berlin, p. 181

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