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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