Traudl Junge was Adolf Hitler's private secretary, from Autumn 1942 until the collapse of the Nazi regime. She worked for him at the Wolfsschanze in Obersalzberg, on his private train and, finally, in his bunker in the besieged capital. It was Traudl Junge to whom Hitler dictated his final testament. In her first ever on-camera interview, 81-year-old Junge talks about her unique life. In the spring of 2001, Andre Heller succeeded in convincing Traudl Junge how valuable it is to record her unique memories. Fifty-six years after the end of the Second World War, an important eyewitness reveals her experiences to us. What she saw and heard turned her into an furious opponent of National Socialism; an opponent, moreover, who is still painfully aware and seems incapable of forgiving the young girl she once was--for her naivete, ignorance, and her liking for Hitler.Written by
Sujit R. Varma
The official sites of this film claim that these interviews are Traudl Junge's first public appearance, that she "kept quiet for nearly 60 years". See more »
And I think it's also the case that if you value and respect someone you don't really want to destroy the image of that person... you don't want to know, in fact if disaster lies beyond the facade.
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The title of this German documentary ("Im Toten Winkel - Hitlers Sekretarin") would be more accurately translated as "The Dead Zone: Hitler's Secretary". An even better title would be "Dead Calm", as in the eye of a hurricane. The narrator or interviewee, Traudl Humps Junge, maintains that -- far from being at the hub of the Nazi regime and privy to sensitive political and military information -- she was actually completely out of the loop in the splendid isolation of the Wolf's Lair.
But "Blind Spot" is an equally apt description of Frau Junge's vantage point on Hilter and the war years, especially at the beginning of her career. The Hitler she knew was partly a creation of her own mind. She admits that she was attracted to him as a benevolent father figure, one she needed to compensate for the shortcomings of her own parents. The Hitler she depicts in the first half of the documentary is light-years removed from the Hitler portrayed by Noah Taylor in the recent feature film "Max".Frau Junge's Hitler is almost endearing ("gentle" is her word), with his fondness for his pet dog Blondie, and his abstemious lifestyle as a vegetarian and teetotaller.
Yet, in retrospect, Frau Junge wonders why she did not see Hitler for the monster he turned out to be. If nothing else, he lived in total denial of the realities of global conflict and mass genocide. He preferred to eat with his secretaries and avoid the war talk of his male staff. When travelling through a devastated Germany by train, he kept the window blinds pulled down. He was careful about his diet, yet this did not prevent him from being dyspeptic and suffering from digestive complaints.
In the second half of the documentary, Frau Junge details Hitler's last days before committing suicide in his bunker. Over and over, she uses the same three adjectives like a refrain or leitmotiv: "nightmarish", "weird", "macabre". Her face shows little emotion, except when she speaks of the six Goebbels children who were injected with poison because their mother could not conceive of life after the Third Reich. Her voice is calm and strong. (Indeed, I found myself able to udnerstand much of the original German because her diction was so clear.) Her version of events does not sound rehearsed. Like anyone else recalling a distant past, she sometimes forgets to recount something and must backtrack. She is a credible witness to history -- and yet, at the same time, her story is that of someone wearing blinkers or with tunnel vision. As the old saying goes, "Hindsight is better than foresight", and "There is none so blind as he who will not see."
Hitler's denial of reality, and Frau Junge's "blind spot", are the reflection in microcosm of an entire nation's unwillingness, for decades, to acknowledge its responsibility for the horrors of the Nazi regime. Frau Junge says that even the revelations of the death camps, and the Nuremberg trials, were not enough to force the German people to look themselves squarely in the face. She herself did not tell her story for almost 60 years.
Just before the lights go up, we learn that Frau Junge died of cancer the day after the documentary premiered in Berlin. In her last conversation with the filmmakers, she confessed, "I think I am just now beginning to forgive myself."
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