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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book - must read for anyone interest in this era.
Don't listen to the review below. Yes, Missie did party and drink and dine, but only at the beginning of the book, when WWII was still called "the Phony War". She was a refugee from her country, a princess, who had to leave Lithuania because of Soviet rule. She can't seem to, at first, give up her lavish lifestyle of parties and such, but she never complains when it is...
Published on January 11, 2003 by lerichards2

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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The princess can tell a story
Princess Marie Vassiltchikov, a member of some minor branch of the Russian nobility who ended up in Lithuania and then in Germany for World War II, can sure tell a story. Her diary is a good page turner. You always know what is going on. You're always want to find out what is going to happen next. I finished this book in a day or two and took it everywhere I went,...
Published on September 28, 2006 by Tony Thomas


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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book - must read for anyone interest in this era., January 11, 2003
This review is from: Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945 (Paperback)
Don't listen to the review below. Yes, Missie did party and drink and dine, but only at the beginning of the book, when WWII was still called "the Phony War". She was a refugee from her country, a princess, who had to leave Lithuania because of Soviet rule. She can't seem to, at first, give up her lavish lifestyle of parties and such, but she never complains when it is time to give up that lifestyle. She and her sister run out of money, have to take care of their family, but they never complain. I would love to see a modern day aristocrat adapt the way Missie does.
Also, the parties that Missie attends are hosted or attended by some of the most powerful and influential people during the second world war.
Later on though, she is bombed out of house and home... the true reality of living in Germany under the constant destruction, fires, bombing, low flying "enemy" planes, and never being able to go back to how you once lived shines through. She is not a Nazi, she hates the Reich, and gives a great unbiased account of what it was like to live in Berlin during the war. It is a perspective that you've never heard before.
She is friends and co-worker of many of those who attempted to kill Hitler, and supports them. She watches as people she loves and respects are thrown into jail and killed for being associated with those who tried to kill Hitler, and grieves that he wasn't killed.
This is a great book. I've read as many books as I can about the holocaust experience from a Jewish perspective, and though Missie doesn't mention the Jews hardly at all (they shielded the Berliners from what was going on in the death camps) this is still a great book for me. The way the Jew were killed is horrid, and this sounds bad, I don't mean it, but WWII was more than that, believe it or not. She tells a different point of view.
I've read it about 3 times, I am now on my fourth. It is fascinating to watch as Missie changes from aristocrat to a red cross nurse, trying to survive as best she can.
get this book. You won't regret it. It is a true sotry of the death of everyone's lives in Europe because of the war.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bombs, plots and Total War, February 20, 2004
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This review is from: Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945 (Paperback)
Missie Vassiltchikov was an aristocratic Russian who was living in Berlin at the beginning of World War 2. At the time the war started Missie was a habitué of the diplomatic party circuit and friends with many of the German aristocrats of her parents class.
Missie, through her experiences in exile valued people on their own intrinsic worth and not based on their nationality and she proved to be a good judge of character. Many of her German friends were involved in the 20th July 1944 plot to kill Hitler and finish the war. Missy herself was lucky to escape the death squads that combed Germany afterwards and her diary chronicles the deaths of many of her close friends. It also clearly portrays the horror of living under the allied air raids against civilians, especially in Berlin, in the closing years against WW2 where luck, rather than good judgement, was a more assured method of survival.
Missie brings home the fact that "total war" is a horror for all involved and that there were 'good guys' and 'bad guys' on both sides of the conflict, but in the end it was the ordinary civilians who paid the greatest price for the folly of their leaders. Possibly one of the areas that is an eye opener is the closing days of the war. An area little touched on in movies or documentaries. We get to see some of the human costs of the disgraceful Yalta agreement that the allies signed with Stalin and the starvation and ruin that prevailed in Europe the years after the war. For a civilian insight into the war on the continent this book is first class along with her sister Titania's autobiography.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The princess can tell a story, September 28, 2006
By 
Tony Thomas (West Palm Beach Florida USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945 (Paperback)
Princess Marie Vassiltchikov, a member of some minor branch of the Russian nobility who ended up in Lithuania and then in Germany for World War II, can sure tell a story. Her diary is a good page turner. You always know what is going on. You're always want to find out what is going to happen next. I finished this book in a day or two and took it everywhere I went, because I had to find out what happened.

She is direct and never gets too intwined in her personal musings (although the curious would want to know more about personal/romantic and other dirt in a private diary).

Her story is intensified by the big events she is involved in.
She begins with Germany's descent into World War. Then, a number of her associates and probably herself (the editor says she is circumspect about this in her diary lest the diary be found)are involved in the aristocratic attempt to assassinate Hitler and overthrow the Nazi government in the fall of 1944. Finally, the Princess, as a Russian aristocrat emirge who spent World War II working for Germany, flees first Berlin and then Austria in fear of the advancing Soviet Army.

While the princess lives modestly on jobs translating and clipping English periodicals for various German foreign policy enterprises, her world is one of the titled wealthy in Germany and Austria. She's continually mixing it up with the descendants of the Royal Houses of Prussia, Russia, Austria and of Germany principalities like Bavaria and Hanover. Her friends are descendants of Bismark and Metternick. Most of her friends are also princesses, counts, countesses, princes, and even lowly barons.

For all the ravages of the War she faces, there is always a great estate or castle to stay in if her home is bombed out. Influential friends are able to send a car to fetch her even when she is stranded in the most remote Alpine villages. There is always a friend in high places to sign a special pass, get her an impossible-to-get ticket, offer her a new job, or pull strings for a transfer out of harm's way once she becomes a nurse. While sometimes there is a shortage of meat, there is always champagne. When there is no oil to heat lamps and cooking burners, there is always enough perfume to use for these purposes. While Germans are starving and millions are being murdered by the Nazis, there are often fine meals on provisions sent from friends in the embassies, from a friend's baronial estate, or from their diplomatic posts in Rumania or Hungary.

The marketing of the book attempts to paint Princess Marie Vassiltchikov
as a progressive fighter given her association with the Von Stauffenberg attempt to kill Hitler and take over the government. Alas, her aristocratic friends were not against the real setup in Germany. They were attempting to bail out of the war now that Germany was being beaten. They had not opposed Hitler when he outlawed Germany's working class political parties and unions and sent their leaders to concentration camps in the early 1930s. In fact, their party, the German National Party, a party more right wing in social policy than the Nazis, merged with the Nazis in the early 1930s. Most of her mail associates had held important posts in the German government for much of Hitler's regime: ambassadors, provincial governors, police chiefs, staff generals, and other officials. None of them were known for sticking up for human rights, democracy, or workers and farmers.

Indeed, what's shocking is the apparent indifference that Princess Marie Vassiltchikov and her pals show to the total suffering that ordinary Germans and Austrians faced, ordinary folk who didnt have castles to repair to when they needed housing, retainers to shoot or harvest food from estates when the food system broke down, who struggled to find bread and milk and never touched champagne. If the Princess and her ilk do face such genuine suffering during these years, what became of German factory workers, small farmers, family shop keepers?

This does not mean the good Princess doesn't suffer. At the end she suffers from starvation and its complications. Millions of Germans suffered from stravation and malnutrition at the end of the war because the thoughtlessness of the division of Germany by Stalin and Western imperialism cut across the normal lines of getting food from agricultural areas to non agricultural areas.

Between the lines you can read in fears and anxiety that must have continued for the rest of her life, no matter how successful it may have been.

Above all, whether you like her or love her or not, the Princess knows how to tell a story you will follow through to the end.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heartbreaking work of staggering genius, August 15, 2001
By 
Anglo Jackson (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945 (Paperback)
Missie Vassiltchikov's diary is the outstanding source for anyone who wants to achieve any sort of historical empathy with the German aristocracy during the war years. As a diary rather than a memoir we feel the horror of the bombs, or of the regime, at an extraordinary proximity; as a White Russian and not a German patriot, her criticism takes less for granted and, by witnessing everything on a personal level, the acute sensations of terror and loss are not diluted by blood and guts patriotism. An extraordinary woman in extraordinary times the result is a historical source acknowledged by A. J. P. Taylor to be of first rate importance and a testament to the bravery of the German patriots who tried to carry out the July 1944 coup of incredible dignity and persuasion. Having read these diaries I will never again tolerate being told that the July plotters were nothing but a nasty military junta in embryo. Wonderful stuff.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An view from the fiery depths of Hitler's capital., November 20, 2006
By 
brentmark (Wall Lake, IA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945 (Paperback)
"The Berlin Diaries" by Marie Vassiltchikov is an account of wartime Germany from the vantage point of a young White Russian aristocrat. Although not a native German, Ms. Vassiltchikov and her sister penetrated the upper echelons of German society--the surnames of those who they socialize with read like a "Who's Who Among Central Europeon Royalty." Despite their privileged lifestyle, the Vassiltchikov sisters are not insulated from the trappings of the war raging around them: their acquaintances die in battle, they experience rationing, cold offices, nurse duty, and most memorable of all, the punishing bombings of Berlin.

If the suspense of who will live and perish around Ms. Vassiltchikov were not enough, many of her coworkers in the Abwehr are secret anti-Nazis and were thus implicated with varying roles in the July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate der Fuehrer with a breifcase bomb. Her writings provide an excellent insider's glimpse of the German Resistance and will force any reader to sympathize with Vassiltchikov; even if they see her as "the enemy" as a result of her residence in Nazi Germany.

The book's readability is a final strength that I will mention. Ms. Vassiltchikov's diary entries are often interrupted by factual passages from the editors, one of which was her brother. These passages explain the course of the war at that particular entry and thus renders the diary easily understandable for those with even a limited knowledge on the Second World War. Even as a frequent reader of World War II, I thoroughly enjoyed "The Berlin Diaries," and so did my co-workers who care little for military history or the time-period. The fact that the book can appeal to such a wide audience is undoubtedly one of its most admirable qualities.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War through the experiences of the wealthy, December 31, 2005
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This review is from: Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945 (Paperback)
People who have not lived through wars forget that even when confronted with death, destruction, loss, and fear, man's survival instinct grasps for pleasure. This is true for the wealthy as well as the poor, however, the pleasures found differ greatly. This book is not about the poor, and readers with a socialist orientation may find it offensive.

Amidst hiding from bombs and fleeing from peril, people celebrated, attended lavish festivities, sought comforts whenever possible. This is about a circle of wealthy and recognized families, European, not just German, from whose midst the would-be assassinator of Hitler sprang. Many of them were hunted by the Nazi regime. This diary of a Russian princess is interesting and spellbinding. It is a very different testimony of a war that left no one untouched.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful look into life in Berlin during WWII, December 28, 1999
This review is from: Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945 (Paperback)
This book offers an insightful look into life in Berlin during WWII. It also offers a look at a lifestyle which no longer exists in Europe. This is an "insiders" look into life with the Nazis. While most of us are fully familiar with the Holocaust and its results for the Jews and other groups, this book gives us another perspective of Germany and Hitler and his Nazis. Additionally, we get a view of life among the royalty of Europe as it no longer exists. Interesting and thought provoking.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, March 8, 2010
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Fascinating. Take two Russian princesses who cannot live in Russia because Stalin would have them bumped off, and who find themselves in Berlin in 1939 and they have to find work to live. Because of their backgrounds they both speak numerous languages and so are offered jobs in the Ministry of Information (Goebbels). All of their contacts are the aristocratic families of Europe and so apart from their shortage of money they can build up a good social life in Berlin. This brings them into contact with many of those who opposed Hitler and takes Missie's Diaries take you through to the tragedy of the Bomb plot when dozens of their friends were executed after show trials. A unique view of life in Berlin during the 2nd World War. It deserves a place on any household bookshelf.Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best and most original book on WWII ever written, July 28, 2006
By 
David Devine "Dave" (West Hollywood, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945 (Paperback)
Don't pay any attention to the one or two negative views in this section. This is a terrific book written from the weird persepective of the Blue Bloods, the European royalty the Nazis hated as much as they hated Jews. The fact that these people, all opposed to Hitler, could land on their feet over and over again in spite of everything is as funny as anything can be. I would have been a Top Ten TV Series had somebody had the sense to pick it up. Risk the few dollars cost, you won't be sorryl
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Primer, January 18, 2000
While many readers may become fascinated with the book simply because of the author's pedigree, Vassiltchikov unwittingly opens the door of curiosity. Portraying life in wartime Germany as seemingly footloose and carefree (parties at the Adlon Hotel during bombings, for example; or, to even have parties at all with the desperate situation of many around them) gives an astonishing first-hand account of how the "privileged" class viewed and lived the war. Certainly, this is a very interesting read. Quite fast, as a matter of fact. Moreover, the seeds of the nobility resisting Nazism and attendant ideology come through in the diary, but not completely. Many questions begged to be answered after reading this account. How did the nobility react to the rise of Hitler? Why were they not successful in mounting a successful resistance? What did these people believe, fundamentally? Overall, this is a good book. However, it would be well served, that in attempting to understand this period, to follow-up with equally good treatments of nobility prior to and during World War II. Any suggestions?
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Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945
Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945 by Marie Vassiltchikov (Paperback - June 12, 1988)
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