A Woman in Berlin
Each war brings distraction and pain for people. In most cases, female are the most vulnerable segment of people who suffer from violence during instability and prevalence of cruelty. A Woman in Berlin is a diary kept from April 20 till June 22, 1945, by a German woman. The Red Army of the USSR invaded Berlin and remained there during that period. Mass rape became a common and regular action for almost all women. At that time and long after the war, talks about sexual collaboration and rape were prohibited . First anonymous publication of A Woman in Berlin allowed to reveal the female issue and to change the way they were perceived. The book demonstrates the fragility of a person’s values and feelings, the vision of the role men and women play in the world, and interconnection between rape and relations.
The absence of basic feelings and modification of values emerge during the war. The author appears before the readers a lonely human being without home or sense of belonging. Nevertheless she has lived for six years in one apartment, after she is forced to move to another place, she admits that neither place could be called home (Anonymous 2006, 18). On the other hand, she gradually loses the feeling of regular things value. For instance, beauty in general is always associated with something good; however, in adverse circumstances, the beauty becomes a source and reason of pain that is closely correlated with death (Anonymous 2006, 31). Only old women go to pump for water because Russians do not pay attention to them. Therefore, when the main character goes there, she makes a face in order to look old and less attractive (Anonymous 2006, 132). Thus, feelings and values change in war times.
How It Works
The performance of personal duties is the factor that depicts the human nature. One of woman’s main occupations was to dig out corpses out of rubble. Anxiety and the fear of death were very frequent, especially when she just began doing that. Each time she forced herself to overcome those feelings (Anonymous 2006, 27). This work clearly illustrates the existence of two sides in her personality. One side prefers privacy and aloofness while the other side requires being together with other fellow countrymen in tough time (Anonymous 2006, 35). Thus, her occupation demonstrates that the desire to overcome difficulties while serving her nation is stronger.
A Woman in Berlin serves as an example when a person starts to look at life from a different perspective. Difficulties and being on the verge of life and death each day change her outlook. The woman does not take life for granted any longer but values every moment when “each new day of life is a day of triumph”. The main reason for such thoughts is that an individual continues to live and survives the other day one more time. This experience gives the right to be defiant (Anonymous 2006, 31). Thus, despite all difficulties, the desire for life still remains.
At the same time, the author debunks the existing myth of a “Man” and woman as a weaker sex created by Nazism. According to existed believes in Nazi state, the world is ruled by a strong man who gave them certain privileges such as to kill or to be killed for motherland. On the contrary, the woman underlines that many people neglect the fact that female also have their place and role. Consequently, with this thesis, she addresses to the defeat of the male sex issue (Anonymous 2006, 65). Women serve as soldiers who defeat their country, and “most are very young – small, tough, their hair combed back smooth” (Anonymous 2006, 89). Thus, the concepts and role of men and women are critically viewed in the book.
The author of A Woman in Berlin analyzes peculiar attitude towards rape as an action. She underlines the vulnerability of the woman who cannot defend herself from two strong men and is raped by them (Anonymous 2006, 73). When she tries to complain, no one takes her words seriously but rather as a usual thing (Anonymous 2006, 74). The woman argues that no difference exits any longer in such conditions “but for them any woman will do, when they’re grabbing in the dark” (Anonymous 2006, 79). Moreover, brutality and everyday abuse erase previous convictions. For instance, to be raped is equal almost to the end of everything in ordinary life; however, this act can even not recall any reaction at all in time of war (Anonymous 2006, 83). Furthermore, the person starts to hate her own body seeing it as a heart of impurity (Anonymous 2006, 96). Thus, vision and perception of rape change significantly during the war.
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Love as a feeling of pleasure vanquishes and is substituted by pain that is a direct response to abuse (Anonymous 2006, 114). The relations and sex get the fixed price: “a crumpled pack of Russian cigarettes” (Anonymous 2006, 84). Thus, the woman lives in a world where all feelings died, and the only thing that is left is the drive to live (Anonymous 2006, 87). She ironically describes double standards when the men “are demanding that their sexual spoils be tidy and well behaved and have a noble character to boot! Next thing they’ll be asking women to present a police affidavit testifying to their clean record before they’re allowed to bed down with the victors!” (Anonymous 2006, 138). For that reason, the feeling of love stops existing.
The author pays special attention to the change of her behavior under all circumstances at some point. When the major starts raping the woman, she decides to change her attitude. She speaks softly, chooses her words carefully, and serves him. However, the woman frankly remarks that her actions changed but not her feelings or attitude. Her deeds have the single motivation that is to get something to eat (Anonymous 2006, 140). At this point, the woman clearly understands that she is a prostitute, but she does not regard it as unworthy or beneath dignity. Due to all dramatic events that happen to her, she starts to see the process of selling her body in a philosophic way as one of the oldest professions in the world (Anonymous 2006, 20). Thus, a person’s general behavior can be modified in time when she wants to preserve her life; however, feelings are more stable and thus remain the same.
A Woman in Berlin can be characterized as the author’s attempt to raise the topic of women’s life and change in that way their perception in society. In order to achieve the strong effect, she recalls personal feelings and describes unbearable sufferings she experienced during the occupation of Berlin. In times of conflicts, women feel extremely lonely and are ashamed of being beautiful. Moreover, the performance of daily duties helps to realize the belonging to the nation. Being under the everyday risk of death, the person starts to value each day that she has lived. The author reveals the contradictions in the men’s and women’s role in the society. Finally, she presents the modification of the rape perception when love loses its meaning, and the desire to survive prevails.