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Account Rendered: A Dossier on my Former Self Paperback – May 24, 2016
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About the Author
Born in Berlin, Melita Maschmann (1918-2010) attended boarding school in Thuringia. She joined the BDM (Bund Deutscher Mädel, the Girls’ Section of the Hitler Youth) secretly in 1933 against the wishes of her parents who were conservative and nationalist, but not national-socialist. She worked for the Labor Service in East Prussia (1936-37), then as a journalist for the press section of the BDM (1937-41) in Frankfurt-an-der-Oder and in the Wartheland (German-occupied Poland). She was in charge of women’s Labor Service camps in Poland and Germany (1941-43) and responsible for the BDM’s press and propaganda division in Berlin (1943-45). She did war work, including preparation for “Werewolf” (S.S. sabotage) activities (1945) before the US Army captured her in Austria in July 1945 with a clandestine group manufacturing false documents for “comrades”. She was interned in the “Frauenlager 77” (internment camp for women) near Ludwigsburg, and later in Darmstadt until 1948. Denazification authorities considered her a “follower” (“indoctrinated” and too young to be fully responsible); Maschmann finally broke with National Socialism only in the 1950s. After her release, Maschmann wrote for the Darmstädter Echo and the Frankfurter Rundschau. She travelled to Afghanistan and India in 1962-63 and moved permanently to India shortly thereafter, becoming a follower of Guru Sri Anandamayi Ma. In India, Maschmann lived mainly in her ashrams, and after Sri Anandamayi Ma’s death in 1982, worked in institutions for children. She returned to Darmstadt in 1998 due to Alzheimer’s disease and died in a retirement home. She was never married and had no children. Account Rendered was first published in 1963 as Fazit: Kein Rechtfertigungsversuch (No attempt at justification), translated into several languages, and republished seven times in Germany where it became a required high school text. Maschmann also wrote fiction (Die Aschenspur, Der Dreizehnte, Das Wort Hiess Liebe) and books about Sri Anandamayi Ma and India (Der Tiger singt Kirtana, Indiras Schwestern, Eine ganz gewöhnliche Heilige).
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I spent a summer at the University of Heidelberg and 9 years spread over 3 tours with the Army in Germany, 1960 to 1987. I have wondered how the people I came to love could have come from the same environment as the Nazis. This book goes a long way to explaining how youthful Germans could have been swept away by enthusiasm for a "new world order" by a master of the language. What remains hard to understand is how long it took Melita to see the very dark side of what Nazism was doing. Not yet explained, to me, is why at some point the perpetrators did not realize their own crimes. At some point they should have realized that death (which turns out to have not been that probable) was preferable to continuing.
Very few former Nazi soldiers wrote their memoirs, and of the few that I know of which were written, this is the only one that I know of which has been translated into English.
Melita Maschmann is VERY honest about her experiences with the Hitler Youth party during the 1930's and the 1940's, we see why she was still proud of herself when she was sent to prison for complicity in war crimes in 1948. I've had Holocaust survivors in my family, we still have one relative who still has a number etched into his forearm from his childhood years in one of the camps during the 1940's. There have been thousands of autobiographies, short stories and memoirs which have been written by Holocaust survivors, in numerous languages, recounting their experiences of surviving the 1930's and the 1940's, and watching their friends and their family members get killed on a daily basis. "Account Rendered" shows us insights into memories of the Nazi era from the other side, Melita Maschmann wrote this book as a warning to future generations, she wrote about how easily people can get worked into a mindset where they are willing to fight and die for a regime which is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on a scale which at the time had never been seen before in human history.
Melita Maschmann wrote "Account Rendered" in the form of a letter to a Jewish friend of hers who had gotten killed sometime during the first half of the 1940's, this book is what she would have liked to have said to her friend if her friend had somehow survived the war; she is explaining how she proudly bought into the ideology of the Hitler Youth and the Nazi Party without realizing that she was contributing to a party which would end up committing what at the time was the largest genocide in human history.