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Abandoned By Her Mother, Who Left To Pursue A Career As A Camp Guard At Auschwitz Birkenau, Loathed By Her Step Mother, Cooped Up In A Cellar, Starved, Parched, Lonely Amidst The Fetid Crush Of Her Neighbours, Helga Schneider Endured The Horrors Of Wartime Berlin The Bonfire Of Berlin Is A Searing Account Of Her Survival The Grinding Misery Of Hunger, Combined With The Terror Of Air Raids, The Absence Of Fresh Water And The Constant Threat Of Death And Disease Served Not To Unite The Tenants And Neighbours Of Her Apartment Block But Rather To Intensify The Minor Irritations Of Communal Life Into Flashpoints Of Rage And Violence And With Russian Victory The Survivors Could Not Look Forward A Return To Peacetime But Rather To Pillage And Rape It Was Only Gradually That Schneider S Life Returned To Some Kind Of Normality, As Her Beloved Father Returned From The Front, Carrying His Own Scars Of The War This Shocking Book Evokes The Reality Of Life In A Wartime City In All Its Brutality And Deprivation, While Retaining A Kernel Of Hope That While Life Remains Not All Is Lost

10 thoughts on “Il rogo di Berlino

  1. says:

    I don t know how or if this woman can reconstruct so dramatically or accurately thoughts and conversations that took place when she was such a young girl Nevertheless, the impressions she conveys of life in Berlin at the end of WWII are riveting.

  2. says:

    This book is basically built around one peak moment the young protagonist meeting Adolf Hitler in the Reich Chancellery bunker during the dark days of the so called Battle of Berlin One may say I m underrating the importance of The Bonfire of Berlin while writing this, but actually I do think this is the main reason that led editors to publish this book.Don t take me wrong I was really interested in this story and particularly happy when I found it midprice Then I literally devoured the 240 pages wrote by Helga Schneider Yet sometimes quickness in reading is not to take as a good signal I guess how most of the times people devour bestsellers, rather than brilliant and insightful books just to read what happens next As for me, I read the Da Vinci Code in a single afternoon but I do think it s crap Personally a slow reading is involving and makes me wonder about story, plot, characters and the message behind a book.What disappointed me in The Bonfire of Berlin has very much to do with both style used by Helga Schneider and her attempt to write a self biographical book based on her childhood experiences Chapter One style.I didn t understand why Schneider switches from present to a literary past tense at least in the Italian edition from chapter to chapter and even inside the same chapter without a logic I mean it s not about flashbacks or reminiscences of the young Helga, it s just random Moreover, my impression is that the whole book has been written in one week or something, without caring that much of a re reading process I reckon how this aspect may be a quality, looking like a spontaneous need of narrating a story long time kept by the author, but I didn t appreciated it as maybe someone else did Schneider language is very direct but oozes too much with victimism basically young Helga is the only good and honest person around the collapsing Berlin, while everyone else is, depending on circumstances, selfish, arrogant, spoilt her little brother, portrayed as a blond little creep or double dealing I found this vision a little bit disturbing Chapter Two autobiographyOne may wonder how is possible that 50 years later, Schneider is able to recall what she felt as a seven years old girl, reconstructing whole dialogues and situations with such accuracy She never mentions about having a diary while living that awful experience and even if she tries to explain this precision with frequent references towards the end of the book to the importance of looking around for remembering it all I have some doubts about it But I guess how this power of memory is a common problem while talking about autobiographic novels Given this, there are still many good reasons for reading this book, especially if you re interested in a different account of the final days of Germany in World War II seen and felt from the side of the defenceless population But The Bonfire of Berlin is still very far from perfection.

  3. says:

    The progressive falling of Berlin through the vivid account of Helga, girl of seven, who also visited Hitler s bunker, during the final days of the Nazism.

  4. says:

    Read to this one now and really enjoying it I love writing style and everything Describe in this book.

  5. says:

    All through this book I wanted to say, WHINER Don t get me wrong, people endured terrible suffering I ll never understand or be able to relate to during WWII And, when reading what she actually went through it seemed even worse than Anne Frank up until the time she and her family were discovered and taken to the concentration camp, of course At least Anne was with her family that loved her, and there seemed to be a bit food as I recall, water was not such an issue Just the basics What I think it has to be is the way in which Schneider tells her story Sometimes it feels like simply a listing of every miserable thing she can remember.An example of what I am talking about, from her post war chapters at the end Peter was enrolled in the first year, and he gave himself such airs about it that it damaged my health for a week Come on, really Admittedly, her little brother sounded like a total brat and I m sure he was a pain But, damaged her health Whatever.She seems to just take it that step too far In her listing of the sufferings of those left in Berlin at the end of the war she carries on until she adds that one or two things that are just plain silly in comparison.She does, once, note that their situation was nothing compared to the Jews in the concentration camps, but it felt a bit like an after thoughtlike she was supposed to say something like that, so she did.Then, there was the feeling I got regarding her family s ties to the Nazis, and her own opinions in regard to the Fuhrer You know, the whole, Me thinks she doth protest too much She MET the man, she tells about meeting him, about her brother s worship of him and her serious dislike of him I don t mean she was in a crowd of thousand of people so brain washed by his speeches to be giving the Hitler salute in unison I mean she met the man, shook his hand and received a bar of marzipan The range of emotion from her brother s to hers were set at such extremes that it served only to further paint her brother as the bad guy and distanced herself as much as possible from the Third Reich.The underlying war with her stepmother may just have been exactly as she portrays it, however, I have to wonder what the other side would say Did she really never love Helga Was she unable to Did it have anything to do with Helga herself There are people who you would love, if they would let you But, they are never willing to let you in, finding fault with you wherever they can With those people, one might be inclined to have a little less patience Just a thought.I have to wonder if her brother has read this book, and how he feels about it All in all, her writing style just didn t suit me I came away feeling irritated by it, suspicious of her exaggerated attempt to distance herself from anything controversial, to vilify everyone around her apart from Opa Literally, everyone in her family, other than Opa.

  6. says:

    I think this is the first book I ve read about World War II which is told from the perspective of a German Christian and this is the first time I have read anything about the devastation of Berlin and the Russian invasion Helga Schneider recalls her childhood in Germany from 1941 to 1947, warts and all her mother abandons her and her younger brother to devote herself to the Nazi cause, becoming a guard at Auschwitz Helga s father remarries and when he is away at the front, the stepmother shows her true archetypal evil nature and Helga is sent off to a variety of institutions whilst her brother Peter is mollycoddled and brought up to be a proper German complete with adoration of the Fuhrer.At times this autobiography is in danger of straying into misery memoir territory but it is saved by keenly observed accounts of time spent in the cramped, fetid air raid shelters, of the ordinary Berliners frustrations with the Nazis actions, of their intense terror of the SS and how good folk did nothing in striving for self preservation At one stage Helga meets Hitler face to face in his bunker and the tension is palpable Likewise the arrival of Russian troops propagates terror amongst the population as the rumour mill goes overboard with tales of brutality.This is a short, accessible read, just over 200 pages not the best written admittedly but it has given me an insight into the plight of ordinary Berliners during and after the war I gather that the author attempted reconciliation with her mother in the 1970s but the happy ending was not to be there is another book Let Me Go which details her mother s story and her lack of remorse for her SS activities.

  7. says:

    Make no mistake this is NOT a children s book It may have a child on the cover, it may be narrated by a child, but this is the kind of book that will give your children nightmares I ve read many bad things in my time but I was still horrified by the suffering in Helga Schneider s environment, not so much in the first part of the book as in the last, when she and her entire apartment building waited out the conquest of Berlin Starvation, death, suicides and rapes abounded, and the only character who was really there for Helga was her step grandfather, himself very sick from old age and the privations they went through.This is a beautifully written memoir, and powerful Too powerful, perhaps, for many people s stomachs.Fun fact due to her step aunt s connections, the author actually met Hitler and stayed for a time in his bunker during the final days of the war She recalls him as a scrawny, sickly looking man.

  8. says:

    Helga and her family are abandoned by her mother who goes off to join the SS during the second world war Her father remarries so someone can look after Helga and younger brother Peter and then has to join the army and fight Helga s stepmother hates her and treats her unfairly This book is an account of her childhood as as the situation in Berlin deteriorates, Helga and her family have to fight fear, hunger illness and lack of sleep as they crowd into air raid shelters whilst Berlin is bombed around them.

  9. says:

    I m not one to usually read wartime stories, rather choosing to shield myself however, the aspect of child s viewpoint gives it an effect of feeling safer somehow I loved Let Me Go, and while I prefer that book for its look at the maternal bond, I also found this book intriguing It s a story of childhood when nearly all is lost It makes the problems of our lives seem minuscule and makes us appreciative simply to have food for our children.

  10. says:

    This book was written about a young girl who grew up during the war It gives a first hand account about the destruction of Berlin, the trapped civilians, feverish german soldiers and the russians Mostly, it describes the devastation of human dignity and confused family ties that war brings with it Clearly this trauma stayed with the writer and other family member for the rest of their lives The author s voice can be heard still jealous for love, trembling and angry, underneath the story.