“All is lost.”
BLIND SPOT: Hitler's Secretary
An Illusion review by Joan Ellis
The makers of “Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary” had the great sense to leave their documentary unadorned. No commentary, no score, no questions by interviewer Andre Heller, no pictures from the past. Just Hitler’s secretary probing her own conscience.
Traudl Junge, 88 and shortly to die the day after this film was released in Berlin, was 25 when Hitler chose her from the typing pool to be his private secretary. As this imposing, nearly elegant woman talks, it seems entirely possible that her emotions are either buried very deep or are so shallow that the very lack of them is what allowed her to work throughout the war in Hitler’s bunker and still say, at war’s end, “I had no idea what had happened.” The power of the film is its reality. She was there.
Sixty years later, we think of Hitler within the parameters of monstrous evil. But here, suddenly, is Ms. Junge telling us that her boss was polite, didn’t wear shorts because his knees were too white, dictated his will to her, and loved his dog Blondie. It seems demeaning to history even to hear human details about this most inhumane man, but this woman remembers her job in ordinary terms, and that is where she looks for clues to herself.
Traudl Junge was a dutiful child of an apolitical family who wanted nothing more than to go to dance school, and instead took a fateful typing test that led her to Hitler’s bunker in the forest. She liked her colleagues, liked being in the Fuhrer’s office in the forest.” She was in the bunker during Stalingrad, the Stauffenberg bomb plot, and throughout the extermination of the Jews.
Her sense of Hitler was that though he seemed uncomfortable with anything erotic, flawless beauty was everything to him in the abstract, in any way that would support the glory of the 3rd Reich. Humanity, she says, on a personal or national level, didn’t exist for him.
On the 22nd of April, Hitler called a meeting and told his people, “All is lost.” Surrounded by spring flowers, Junge went for a last walk with Eva Braun and then returned to sit in the ghostly atmosphere of the bunker handing round cups of tea. On that day, Traudl Junge decided to save herself.
Not before Hitler did one last dictation, “The Jews are to blame. National Socialism will die, the German people weren’t ready, so they will die.” Then he shot himself and was burned. Junge became a prisoner of the Russians. A year later she was cleared and underwent “denazification.”
One day Junge passed a statue of Sophie Scholl, co-founder of the resistance group, The White Rose, and “in a moment I realized it was no excuse to be young. She was my age.” That was as close as Traudl Jung came, it seems, to penetrating the walls that protected her from her own guilt.
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