Anonymous Woman Berlin Diary
For eight weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army, a young woman kept a daily record of life in her apartment building and among its residents. The anonymous author depicts her fellow Berliners in all their humanity and their cravenness, corrupted first by hunger and then by the Russians.
A Woman in Berlin tells of the complex relationship between civilians and an occupying army and the shameful indignities to which women in a conquered city are always subject–the mass rape suffered by all, regardless of age or infirmity. Anonymous Woman Berlin Diary
Read the story of Marta Hillers
and see her passport. It is the diary of a German woman from 20 April to 22 June 1945, during and after the Battle of Berlin. The book details the author’s being raped and choosing to take a Soviet officer as a protector during the Red Army occupation.
The book was first published in English in 1954 in the United States. When it was published in Germany in 1959, the author was accused of “besmirching the honor of German women.” Hillers refused to have another edition published in her lifetime. Having married and moved to Switzerland, Hillers left journalism and did not publish another major work. She died in 2001.
New Book Edition
A new edition of her book was published posthumously in Germany in 2003, again anonymously. It met wide critical acclaim and was weeks on the bestseller list. A controversy broke out when a literary editor revealed the author as Hillers. No one else has been suggested. New English editions were published in the United Kingdom and the United States in 2005 and seven other languages. The book was adapted as a film and was released first in 2008 in Germany and Poland. In the United States, it is known as A Woman in Berlin. Anonymous Woman Berlin Diary
In the early hours of 16 April 1945, civilians in the eastern quarters of Berlin were awoken by a rumble of distant rolling thunder. The vibrations were so strong that telephones began to ring on their own, and pictures fell from their hooks. Women emerged slowly from their apartments and exchanged meaningful looks with neighbors. They hardly needed to speak. The long-awaited Soviet offensive had at last begun sixty miles to their east.
One and a half million Red Army soldiers Anonymous Woman Berlin Diary
of Marshal Zhukov’s First Belorussian Front were bursting out from the bridgeheads on the west bank of the River Oder. Facing them were the desperate scrapings of the embattled Third Reich: mainly boys from the Hitler Youth, older men from the Volkssturm, groups of cadets from Luftwaffe military schools, and a stiffening of veterans and SS.
They had little ammunition, hardly any shells for their artillery, and insufficient fuel for their few remaining armored vehicles. Yet Goebbels, the Reich commissar for the defense of Berlin and minister of propaganda, had declared that the line of the Oder was a wall on which the Asiatic hordes’ would smash themselves. Surrender was out of the question.
Himmler had just issued orders that any German male found in a house displaying a white flag be shot. The propaganda ministry organized graffiti squads, dressed as ordinary Germans, to paint slogans such as: ‘We will never surrender!’ and ‘Protect our women and children from the Red beasts!’ Anonymous Woman Berlin Diary
The Diary Anonymous Woman Berlin Diary
This diary, written by a 34-year-old journalist, begins on 20 April, four days after the opening bombardment. It was Hitler’s birthday. Nazi flags were raised over ruined edifices in the city center, where US Air Force Flying Fortresses by day and RAF Lancaster’s by night had destroyed 90 percent of the buildings.
Signs erected in Hitler’s honor proclaimed: ‘The Fighting City of Berlin Greets the Führer.’ Even Hitler’s military staff had no idea how close the fighting was. Soviet tank armies had now smashed their way through the German defenses and started to encircle the city.
The first shells from long-range artillery would land in the city’s northern suburbs that evening. Anonymous Woman Berlin Diary
The diary, which filled two exercise books and a cloth bound notebook, continues for just over two months until 22 June. This period covers the bombardment, the brief street fighting in most districts, Hitler’s suicide on 30 April, the surrender of the last pockets of resistance on 2 May, and the city’s occupation by the conquerors.
FAQ Passport History pasaporte passeport паспорт 护照 パスポート جواز سفر पासपोर्ट
1. What are the earliest known examples of passports, and how have they evolved?
The word "passport" came up only in the mid 15th Century. Before that, such documents were safe conducts, recommendations or protection letters. On a practical aspect, the earliest passport I have seen was from the mid 16th Century. Read more...
2. Are there any notable historical figures or personalities whose passports are highly sought after by collectors?
Every collector is doing well to define his collection focus, and yes, there are collectors looking for Celebrity passports and travel documents of historical figures like Winston Churchill, Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read more...
3. How did passport designs and security features change throughout different periods in history, and what impact did these changes have on forgery prevention?
"Passports" before the 18th Century had a pure functional character. Security features were, in the best case, a watermark and a wax seal. Forgery, back then, was not an issue like it is nowadays. Only from the 1980s on, security features became a thing. A state-of-the-art passport nowadays has dozens of security features - visible and invisible. Some are known only by the security document printer itself. Read more...
4. What are some of the rarest and most valuable historical passports that have ever been sold or auctioned?
Lou Gehrig, Victor Tsoi, Marilyn Monroe, James Joyce, and Albert Einstein when it comes to the most expensive ones. Read more...
5. How do diplomatic passports differ from regular passports, and what makes them significant to collectors?
Such documents were often held by officials in high ranks, like ambassadors, consuls or special envoys. Furthermore, these travel documents are often frequently traveled. Hence, they hold a tapestry of stamps or visas. Partly from unusual places.
6. Can you provide insights into the stories behind specific historical passports that offer unique insights into past travel and migration trends?
7. What role did passports play during significant historical events, such as wartime travel restrictions or international treaties?
During war, a passport could have been a matter of life or death. Especially, when we are looking into WWII and the Holocaust. And yes, during that time, passports and similar documents were often forged to escape and save lives. Example...
8. How has the emergence of digital passports and biometric identification impacted the world of passport collecting?
Current modern passports having now often a sparkling, flashy design. This has mainly two reasons. 1. Improved security and 2. Displaying a countries' heritage, icons, and important figures or achievements. I can fully understand that those modern documents are wanted, especially by younger collectors.
9. Are there any specialized collections of passports, such as those from a specific country, era, or distinguished individuals?
Yes, the University of Western Sidney Library has e.g. a passport collection of the former prime minister Hon Edward Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret. They are all diplomatic passports and I had the pleasure to apprise them. I hold e.g. a collection of almost all types of the German Empire passports (only 2 types are still missing). Also, my East German passport collection is quite extensive with pretty rare passport types.
10. Where can passport collectors find reliable resources and reputable sellers to expand their collection and learn more about passport history?
A good start is eBay, Delcampe, flea markets, garage or estate sales. The more significant travel documents you probably find at the classic auction houses. Sometimes I also offer documents from my archive/collection. See offers... As you are already here, you surely found a great source on the topic 😉
11. Is vintage passport collecting legal? What are the regulations and considerations collectors should know when acquiring historical passports?
First, it's important to stress that each country has its own laws when it comes to passports. Collecting old vintage passports for historical or educational reasons is safe and legal, or at least tolerated. More details on the legal aspects are here...
Does this article spark your curiosity about passport collecting and the history of passports? With this valuable information, you have a good basis to start your own passport collection.
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