Photo: New York Times
On Thursday night I saw A Woman From Berlin. It's the true story of how a young woman survives the Russian occupation of her beloved city at the end of the war. She keeps a journal. She writes everything down. She bears witness. On the first night of the occupation she is raped once. On the second night of the occupation she is raped twice; other women in her building as well. She complains to the commander.
He says: All my men are clean. Meaning what can you do? Boys will be boys. Since her body is going to be occupied, and since she has no choice in the matter--- she decides to choose her lover. One of the highest ranking men in the Red Army. The alpha male who keeps her safe from the sexual frenzy of the mob. Ironically, she falls in love with him. When her husband finally returns home, he treats her like a whore. The producers of the film know her identity. But to this day, the shame keeps her silent.
Here is what I would like to say to her:
Dear Anonymous Woman:
You were smart to have a strategy. You wrested whatever control you could in an out of control world. This allowed you to get through each day and not be destroyed. I liked when you waltzed with the soldiers who had invaded your home. It's important to find beauty in destruction. This is how you ensured your survival.
I think you are a brave and smart woman. There are many women like you in this world. I am one of them. I,too, had a strategy, and I too live to tell the tale. I wish you would come out of the shadows. I'm sorry the women around you--- the women who thought you dishonored the name of German women---I'm sorry they belittled you, and shamed you into silence.
I liked the authenticity of your story. The truth is always more beautiful and compelling than any lie.
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