“Until the Final Hour” by Traudl Junge essay

The history of the Nazi Regime was depicted in details in numerous literary and scientific works. However, many of these works fail to fully depict the atmosphere and the real life of Germany and its elite in that epoch. In such a situation, literary works concerning Nazi leaders are particularly noteworthy, especially if they are written by eyewitnesses who were directly involved in the work of the Nazi apparatus. “Until the Final Hour” is one of such works, which was written by Traudl Junge, a secretary of Adolf Hitler. Unlike many other literary or scientific works, this book is an autobiographical work, which focuses on the probably most significant period in the life of the author, on the period of her work as a secretary of the leader of the Nazi regime, A. Hitler. It is hardly possible to overestimate the value of this book for the contemporary people and for all those people who were born and grown up after World War II and who did not have an opportunity to witness the most turbulent epoch in the history of Germany and the world in the 20th century. It should be said that the author of the book provides readers with a very valuable information on the life of Nazi leaders and the ruling elite of Germany of that epoch. What is probably the most important she is one of those people who were “one of them”, a person who served to A. Hitler and a person who was well-informed not only about the work of Hitler, which she could get acquainted with being his secretary, but she also could observe the private life of the ruling elite of the Nazi Germany. Obviously, such information can help better understand the essence of the Nazi regime and its leaders, as well as the perception of this regime by people who worked for this regime.

Speaking about the book “Until the Final Hour” by Traudl Junge, it should be said that the author attempts to convey a part of the history of Germany she witnessed, being a secretary of Adolf Hitler. In fact, her position gave her a perfect opportunity to become a witness of historical events since Hitler and his surrounding were those people that made history of World War II and a considerable part of the 20th century. It is worth mentioning the fact that this book is basically autobiographical, but its details may be of a paramount importance for the history, especially for researchers of the life and work of Adolf Hitler, because it is hardly possible to imagine a person that could witness as much as Traudl Junge did and that could write such a book as she did.

At the same time, often books written by people, who worked for the Nazi regime or were close to this regime, were traditionally viewed as extremely subjective books since they were written by people who worked for the criminal regime and many of them were responsible for crimes of this regime. In this regard, it should be pointed out that the author of “Until the Final Hour” lays emphasis on the fact that she was unconscious of crimes of the Nazi regime and those millions of people who died because of this criminal regime. Traudl Junge estimates that she was absolutely ignorant of all those genocidal activities that took place in Germany and all over Europe where Nazi could implement racist ideas developed and promoted by Hitler and his assistants.

However, it seems to be quite strange that Traudl Junge, being a secretary of Adolf Hitler remained ignorant about the policy developed and implemented by her chief and his nearest surrounding. In fact, she had access to people who defined the policy of Germany and it was these people who took decisions that affected the life of millions of people and who were responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity. Being a secretary of Hitler, she could figure out that the ruling elite, she was so close to, was not really comprised by immortal gods or super-humans, but they were people that took control over the country and imposed their own vision of the future of the country and the world on the entire nation. In such a context, the argument of the author, according to which she was so captured by Hitler’s charisma and his conviction that Germany would win the war that she could not notice all the crimes that took place in Germany and other territories under the control of the Nazi, seems to be not very convincing. Though, probably it is rather a drawback of her style or her inability as a writer to adequately explain her ignorance, then an attempt to distance from crimes of the Nazi regime she served to. In fact, it is necessary to understand that Traudl Junge was just a secretary and she was not a spy or specially trained agent of an American or Russian intelligent agency, who possessed outstanding analytical abilities and could figure out all those crimes that were actually committed by Hitler and his collaborators at that time.

In addition, it is necessary to take into consideration that Hitler and other representatives of the Nazi regime would hardly let an ordinary secretary to get access to really important documents. In such a way, it is possible to believe that the author could not know about all the crimes of the regime, but, on the other hand, it is hardly possible to believe that she was totally ignorant about those policies, which were criminal and inhuman by their nature, which took place in that epoch.

In this respect, it is possible to refer to some of episodes of the book, where the author describes in great details some of the luxuries she and other secretaries took advantage of while working for Adolf Hitler. For instance, she describes in details how she was treated to terrific tea-parties and dinner parties with Hitler, Eva Brown, the other secretaries, all of whom were women, and the military chief that Hitler worked with. Traudl Junge describes these parties and these events as a great fun she had in that time (Junge, 143). Meanwhile, the rest of Germany could hardly even dream of such privileges. In stark contrast, a significant part of German population worked for the victory of Germany in World War II while thousands and millions of Germans had to fight in battles for the sake of the regime and the elite which organized tea-parties and dinner parties, when ordinary Germans died for nothing.

Obviously, Traudl Junge could hardly be ignorant of this fact and such a contrast between the life of the elite, which she actually belonged to and served to, and the rest of German society, while it is even needless to say about millions of those who were declared the enemies of Germany and were physically eliminated. In such context, doubts concerning the sincerity of the author, when she speaks about her ignorance of crimes of the ruling regime, grow stronger. At the same time, it should be said that Traudl Junge could do it on purpose. However, it does not necessarily mean that she just wants to distance from crimes of the Nazi regime and prove her innocence, in spite of her work for the regime and its leader, Adolf Hitler. Instead, she could just use her ignorance as a kind of artistic detail to enhance the image of a romantic woman which she actually creates throughout the book. In such a context, she just turns out to be a simple woman, who by chance got an excellent job she could have never dream about. She is absolutely innocent and naïve and, what is more, she was severely deceived by the regime and her idol, Adolf Hitler, who was the leader of the nation, who was almost worshiped by all Germans. In other words, she just tends to represent herself as a romantic woman and as practically a victim of the Nazi regime and the charismatic power of Adolf Hitler.

In this respect, some details from her personal life prove this hypothesis. To put it more precisely, telling the story of her personal life, Traudl Junge depicts in details the story of her love to Hans Hermann Junge, one of Hitler’s “orderlies”. They fell in love, but, as the author states, they were hesitant to marry since they did not know each other well as their acquaintance had lasted for a short period of time. And in this respect, Hitler plays almost a fabulous role of a fey who finds a prince for a romantic lady. To put it more precisely, as Traudl Junge writes in her autobiographic book, Hitler goaded her into marrying Junge, and it was done in June of 1943 (Junge, 174).

Obviously, such details bear not only purely autobiographic message but they also reveal the stylistic and artistic peculiarities of the author’s writing. What is meant here is the fact that Traudl Junge keeps constructing the image of a romantic woman that was practically overwhelmed by the events that determined her life and fate and, it is important to underline, that she has practically played no role in these events. In other words, she just obeys to circumstances and flows down the stream of her life or fate.

In this regard, it is possible to estimate that Traudl Junge practically perfectly matches Conway’s definition of a female approach to the creation of self-portraits. To put it more precisely, Jill Ker Conway clearly distinguishes male and female style or approach to the creation of self-portrait, which she made through the analysis of mainly autobiographic works written by both male and female authors. In fact, Conway underlines that it is typical for female writers, to create a self-portrait which is quite different from the one created by male writers. According to Conway, females create a self-portrait in which the writers typically downplay a sense of agency in their own lives and successes, not believing in the control they have over their own destiny and accomplishments (227). Basically, female self-portrait is consistently different from male self-portrait, which derives from a classical ancient Greek myth in which an Odysseus-like character undertake an epic journey of adventure, achieves his goals, and asserts that he has succeeded through his own agency (Conway, 224).

In such a way, the autobiographical work by Traudl Junge may be viewed as a typical female work. At the same time, it should be said that the marriage in 1943 marks probably the apogee of her life within the elite of the Nazi regime.

It is worth mentioning the fact that the peak of her personal happiness practically coincides with the apogee of the Nazi regime, which was in its utmost power in 1943. However, after this year, the steady decline begins and it is quite symbolic that the deterioration of the position of Germany in the war and the growing threats to the Nazi regime coincide with problems of the author in her personal life.

In fact, her personal happiness had run out shortly after the marriage. Within a year it becomes clear that the victory of Germany in the war become more and more mere and the hope for the victory was almost lost by the end of 1944.

However, this is actually not the largest tragedy for Traudl Junge, since with the beginning of the downfall of the  Nazi Germany, she suffered another even more significant loss ”“ her husband, Hans Hermann Junge, died in combat lines. And again her personal tragedy and grief coincides with that of her chief, who being a leader of Germany, understands that the end of his rule is inevitable and he also regret that such people as the husband of Traudl Junge die since it approaches his own end.

In fact, the last months add days of Adolf Hitler and his surrounding are probably the most interesting from historical point of view. Traudl Junge witnessed the end of the Nazi regime and, what is even more, she witnessed the end of its leader as well as his closest companions, who actually created this inhuman and criminal regime. The author depicts in details the last days of Hitler and other Nazi leaders, such as Goebbels. She also conveys all the information she has about details of their deaths, especially that of Hitler and Eva Brown. She attempts to fill gaps in the information she apparently lacks about some details of the death of some of the leaders of the Nazi regime using rumors concerning the last days and the end of these people. In such a way, the author manages to convey a relatively clear picture of the last days of the Nazi elite. It is worth mentioning that she perfectly convey the atmosphere of those days, she perfectly describes that moral devastation that affected absolutely all people who hided in bunkers and all of them were really desperate. In fact, she recalls those days as if it was a terrible nightmare she barely struggled through. It is important to underline that even in the last days of the Nazi regime Hitler still was the dominant figure who influenced all people in his surround and his pessimism and despair apparently influenced all people that were with him at the moment, including his secretary.

Nevertheless, unlike her chief, Traudl June escaped the death, though she had to pass through new hardships, such as a gang rape by Soviet soldiers. However, it is obvious that she is not totally broken. Instead, she manages to change her life or, to put it more precisely, to start her life anew and her book may be viewed as a symbol of this new life, in which she has analyzed her past life and attempted to depict it as she once have experienced it.

In fact, it is hardly possible to estimate that her book was accepted positively by absolutely all people in different countries of the world, where it was published. In general, it is possible to speak about two, quite controversial reactions on her book. On the one hand, there was an extremely negative view on the book, which was mainly determined by an extremely biased and prejudiced attitude to works created by people working for the Nazi regime (Read, 211). According to this view, Traudl Junge creates a bit romanticized image of the Nazi leaders and their life.

In actuality, such a position is justified by the fact that the author does not really show that this regime was really criminal or that Nazi leaders, including Hitler, committed any crimes or even arguable, from moral point of view, actions. Basically, in a way, it is possible to view this book as a depiction of the formation and downfall of a regime which had simply lost the war, but did not really commit any crimes. Moreover, on analyzing details, especially those that the author depicts in the last days of the war, it is possible to estimate that the book represents the opponents of the Nazi regime, the allies as really dangerous and inhuman since she, in person, was gang raped by the liberators of Europe that destroyed the Nazi regime. In such a light it is possible to argue what regime was more inhuman, the Nazi or the Soviet, or American democracy.

On the other hand, there was a different reaction on the book, basically from the part of historians who were particularly interested in the last days of Nazi leaders. Obviously, this book represents a valuable source of information, which is really different from others because the book is written by an eyewitness who worked for the Nazi regime (Kershaw, 225).

At the same time, the criticism of the book should not be too radical because the author just depicts her own vision and, what is more, she tends to show that she was unable to change her own destiny and, naturally, she could not change the regime. In this respect, it should be said that this autobiographic work may be viewed as an example of a feminine autobiography influenced by existing biases and stereotypes. In all probability, such a view of the author on her own life was influenced by the imposed biases which defined her role she performed not only during her work for the Nazi regime, but even when she wrote the book. She was limited by boundaries of gender roles (Beauvoir, 211), which put her in inferior position compared to the dominant males.

At the same time, it should be said that this book may be viewed as a perfect sample of the autobiographic work written by a person that lived under the totalitarian regime. In this respect, it is possible to compare this book to that of Slavenka Drakulic “How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed”. Basically, both books reveal the fact that some people were not really oppressed by the regime, at least they did not feel like that, and it is only after the downfall of the totalitarian regime the understanding of its essence occurs.

Finally, it should be said that some specialists (Lemons, 117) believe that people can hardly objectively convey events they witnessed, especially if they were directly involved in them and were closely related to people who actually made the history, such as Hitler. In fact, their emotions influence their objective perception of the reality at that time and their representation of reality should be critically evaluated.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the book “Until the Final Hour” written by Traudl Junge is an important source of information about the Nazi regime and its elite. It provides ample information about the life of the Nazi leaders which is conveyed by an eyewitness who worked for the national leader of the Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler. At the same time, it is extremely important to critically evaluate this book in order to make objective judgment about details of the life of the author and those people she told about in her book.

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