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The Past Is Myself by Christabel Bielenberg
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The Past Is Myself

by Christabel Bielenberg

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Worth reading just for the part where she visits the SS (in darned gloves, the SS really appreciate thriftiness) to create an alibi for her husband. ( )
  infopt2000 | Oct 14, 2013 |
This autobiography deals with Christabel Bieleberg's life in Nazi Germany. Christabel, the privileged niece of Lord Northcliff, fell in love with a liberal German and married him in 1934. The couple settled in Berlin where he studied law and she studied music until her children were born. They were in a set of 20- something professionals who were anti-Nazi and, at first, were quite vocal in their disdain of Hitler. As the Nazis began their suppressive tactics against opponents, Christabel and her friends because more cautious, but no less active. Part One of the books is basically background on all the characters.

Part Two deals with the war years. The young opponents made many appeals to the Allies, mainly Britain, for help with their underground opposition to Hitler. Unfortunately, little if any help was forthcoming, Even a secret trip by Carl Langbehn (later implicated in the Generals' Plot to murder Hitler and hanged for his effort) could not persuade the foreign office to give any help to the anti-Nazi underground movement.When Berlin becomes too dangerous Christabel and her family move to a tiny village in the Black Forest where the local farmers seem almost untouched by the war because they must maintain the rhythm of the farming year. No matter who ranted on the wireless, the cows still have to be milked. If much sentiment is expressed, even by the mayor, it is that "that man" in Berlin won't be in power forever. Most of the horrors of the war are second-hand: food and petrol shortages, the odd bomb dumped by a plane. Christabel's Englishness is not questioned and her family is accepted with no reservations.

The first 2/3's of the book is fascinating, if a bit slow-moving. Christabel's husband Peter manages to keep getting reserve occupations and when he is forced to join the service it is the air force and even then he is given desk positions. Their interactions with their Nazi neighbors in Berlin, the simple and honest residents of the Black Forest village, and their underground colleagues is described clearly and not sensationally.

But after the plot against Hitler's life, their world collapses. Peter is arrested for his association with the plotters, although he had no direct part in the attempt. Their friends are being arrested, tortured, and executed and Christabel desperately tries to find out if her husband is still alive. The final act is terriflying.

This unique perspective of life in Hitler's Germany is a very worthwhile and informative read. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote Liz1564 | Jan 24, 2013 |
This is a stunningly well-told account of the author's time in Germany from 1934 to 1945. Her husband is a German lawyer who opposed the Nazis, but escapes being executed after the attempt on Hitler's life on July 20, 1944. The author lived in the Berlin area and there are vivid accounts of the bombing which Berlin underwent. When the Gestapo arrests her husband in 1944 she visits him in the concentration camp and subjects herself to interrogation by the SS. I found the book consistently interesting and exciting right up to the glorious day, May 2,1945, when the Black Forest town in which they were living is finally liberated. I also found the account of life in Germany in a rural community made me realize how much my mother, born in the USA to German-born rural parents, still owed to the way life was lived in rural Germany in the 1940's--an unexpected bonus derived from reading this excellent book ( )
  Schmerguls | Dec 17, 2012 |
An interesting insight into the lives of non jewish germans during hitlers reign who did not support the regime ( )
  TheWasp | May 15, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0803261519, Paperback)

This fascinating glimpse of Nazi Germany is provided by an Englishwoman who was fluent in German and at home in German society, yet not entirely of it. Christabel Bielenberg moved from passive to active resistance as Hitler seized power and the Nazi dictatorship clamped down.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:26 -0400)

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