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Showing 1-10 of 39 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 76 reviews
on December 20, 2013
I like to read of books about World War II, because it was the biggest story during my lifetime. I have read many books, and this is one of the most insightful. Marie Vasiltchikov came from a privileged family and lived through WWII as an employee of the German government and a friend of influential people. She and many of her friends took part in a covert anti-Nazi effort, including the July 20, 1944 effort to assassinate Hitler. In this book, she gives an intimate day-by-day account of life in Berlin (and other places as well) during the war. I was surprised to learn how early the German people started experiencing shortages of food and other essentials as a result of the war. I was also surprised to see how significantly the British and American bombing impacted the lives of the German people so very early in the war. This is clearly one of the best books I have read about WWII--and I have read many.
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on August 23, 2013
I bought this book for a course I'm taking and as I began reading I found it a little boring. However the diary gradually builds a head of steam as the Allied bombings begin, the Valkerie plot is exposed and finally the Russians advance on Germany with Berlin as their main objective. Missie must make her escape but what about her sense of duty towards friends and family, many missing? What about all her comrades swept up in Hitler's mad revenge against the Valkerie conspirators, both those who participated and those who didn't but were named anyway? And how does she and the rest Berlin adjust to a dysfunctional and quickly derailing system who face the obliteration of their treasured cities and homes foisted upon the them by a lunatic leader who refuses to surrender?

Missie emerges as an intelligent and keen observer who is able to describe the madness descending on Germany with a dispassion and a lack of self-pity.

I was surprised by the shortage of food she had to deal with having been under the impression the standard of living remained fairly high in Germany during the war. I also found the descriptions of the effect of the relentless bombing on her and the populace to be a real education. I was unaware of how bad it was. Surely most of the survivors suffer from PTSD.

I remember studying the bombed out skyline of Heidelberg when I was in post-war Germany. Now I understand what it took to create that skyline.

I was to learn the attempted assassination of Hitler was largely unpopular in Germany

I was impressed with how the public servants kept at their duty of repairing the infrastructure, the communications, rail lines, roadways, etc in the face of what had to be almost impossible obstacles.

The relative unpopularity of the war among the populace intrigued me. I was unclear about that and the size of the Valkerie plot supports Missie's claims about the anti-Nazi attitude of many. Hitler executed 10,000 people for their participation although I suspect many were marginal figures if not innocent.

I appreciate Missie's integrity, optimism, strength of character and unusual intelligence that seems to somehow rise above her circumstances. She does not appear to have descended into bitterness or cynicism and has brought the wartime experience of the common man in Germany to life for me in a way no scholarly textbook could. I treasure what we have in the US more than ever.
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on June 19, 2013
I really enjoyed the book. I grew up in Berlin during the war, I was 10 to 12 yrs. old.
I had to put the book down for a couple of days once in awhile, it affected me quite a bit, since I lived there. We didn't have contact with the Aristocrats. However it is a very good book, I would recommend it highly. My Mom and I stayed in the Zoo Bunker many a time, which was built across the Zoo Train Station. Our Apartment Building also got bombed, while we were taking shelter in the Basement.
Elizabeth Rodriguez
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Princess Marie Vassiltchikov' "Berlin Diaries 1940-1945" is a contemporaneous look at wartime Berlin from a different "angle" than either William Shirer's or Bella Fromm's diaries. "Missie" Vassiltchikov was a royal Russian emigree from Lithuania who left Russia after the 1917 revolution. By the early 1940's, the soon-to-be-stateless sisters - Missie and Tatiana - settled in Berlin in the White Russian colony. Their parents were elsewhere in Europe - Rome, Kaunas, Vienna - and the Vassiltchikov sisters had little money but lots of contacts. They found jobs in wartime Berlin in government agencies and survived the endless British and American air raids that turned Berlin - and other German cities - to rubble.

Parts of Missie's diary - kept on the sly - describe in detail the bombings and other wartime hardships - rationing of food and other day-to-day necessities - and other parts are about her work and social life. If life in wartime Berlin was difficult - and often downright deadly - Missie did not lack for company. She was related to, or friends with, most of the aristocratic families in central Europe. Most of these folk were in the same economic boat Missie was in - barely afloat - but others hung on to some semblance of their former good lives. Missie and Tatiana - who was to marry Prince Paul Metternich-Winneburg during the war - went to parties both at restaurants and private homes of diplomats and other wealthy Germans. But as the bombs fell and the war turned from the German lead after the Battle of Stalingrad, many of Missie's important friends - both in the military and out - began to plot the overthrow of Adolf Hitler and his government.

Who were these conspirators, whose ultimate plan to assassinate Hitler in the "Wolfslair" in Poland and take over the German government in a coup upon his death in July, 1944 failed so miserably? Not only did Hitler survive the attempt but government officials still loyal to him put down the coup. The conspirators - members of the aristocracy, the landed gentry, the clergy, the Prussian military and others - had a wide range of beliefs and reasons for their participation. Some reasons were noble and some were self-serving. And Missie Vassiltchikov claims in her diary that she was involved in the plot, but was she really, and if so, how much? Many of her friends and acquaintances were involved and many lost their lives as a result. I have a feeling - after having read her contemporaneous diary - that she was on the periphery and was lucky not to be implicated with the others.

Missie survived the war and was reunited with her parents and siblings. She had fled to Vienna in the waning days of the war to act as a nurse, and after the war she met an American officer who she married and had a family with. She lived til the mid 1970's and her wartime diary - along with side notes to the text - was first published by her brother, in 1985. Her diary is a good, if not slightly perplexing, testament of the times from a distinct viewpoint. Her diary is a good one to read with Bella Fromm's diary.
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VINE VOICEon December 7, 2009
This is an astonishingly honest and unique book, a diary by a White Russian aristocrat who spent the war years in Berlin and recorded her doings, in English, nearly every day of the war.

It is an inside look at European royalty and the growing aristocratic resistance to Hitler which culminated in the July 20 plot, or Valkyrie.

You come to know and love Missie, her family, and the brave and courageous resisters who plotted Hitler's demise and an early end to the war. If successful, millions of lives would have been saved. Unfortunately, the plot failed and Hitler reveled in the nearly seven thousand plotters and their family who were summarily executed in the aftermath.

A remarkable book and a must-read for any WWII buff.
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on August 15, 2014
I rarely reread a book, but I have read this three times, savoring the author's voice, passion for detail and excellent storytelling in 1940-45 in and near Berlin. A recent visit to Berlin has left me with a fascination for the city and region. Missy (Marie) is young , energetic, royal and determined to survive in Third Reich Berlin, having escaped with her White Russian family from Lithuania just ahead of Stalin's Red Army. Her lifelong commitment to diary-keeping takes the reader eventually to her workplace where she meets numerous people part of the July 20 the plot against Hitler. Her account of months of Allied bombing is widely regarded as very rare and authentic. Read and enjoy.
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on February 28, 2014
I found this fascinating and may read it again. It is interesting partly because you can drop into the life of someone, a young woman, as she lived through this horrible period. She is not Jewish so her story is less depressing than many of the stories. She knew some of the valiant people who ended up giving their lives to try and save Germany.
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on March 8, 2010
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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on June 7, 2015
Most important to realize that this book was written well after world War 2 was over.So the comments and many of the recollections reflect the after war life.Missie and her sister were very much part of the Nazi system.Many of her friends were very important people in the SS.She only cared about her good life parties and all.After the war she married an American--a real surviver or opportunist---and I suspect these diaries ,reflect her new correct bias.Nonetheless,it a good read,showing the suffering of the population during the war.
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on May 3, 2016
Very interesting and informative. Another point of view of WWII, from Berlin and Germany. I admired Vassilchikov in her ability to adjust from a life of privilege to a life of exile and the efforts to live a meaningful life during terrible circumstances.
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