Diary of Second World War German teenager reveals young lives untroubled by Nazi Holocaust in wartime Berlin

Newly published diary hailed as remarkable documentary evidence of how millions of Germans relied on collective indifference to endure the horrors of war

Her neighbourhood was bombed by the allies, the Jews around the corner were being sent to Auschwitz and the Red Army had launched its final assault on Berlin. But Brigitte Eicke, a teenaged German, was unconcerned. She was far more interested in going to the cinema, dancing to gramophone records and trying to cope with a "disastrous" perm.

The 15-year-old Berlin schoolgirl, nicknamed "Gitti", started keeping a diary in December 1942, when the German capital was being bombed nightly and the Nazi Holocaust was killing thousands. As a trainee secretary, she recorded her daily experiences to improve her stenography skills.

Now, some 70 years on, her diary has been published for the first time in Germany and is being hailed as remarkable documentary evidence of how millions of Germans relied on collective indifference to endure the horrors of war and ignore the brutality of the Nazi rule.

Entitled Backfisch im Bombenkrieg (teenaged girl in bombing war), Eicke's diary is an often banal account of everyday life. She started writing it just months before Anne Frank began her diary, but the contents could hardly be more different.

"Gitti is merely a cog in the wheels that kept Nazi Germany turning," is how Der Spiegel magazine described the author last week. "She is a young woman skilled in the art of blotting out ugliness, willing to believe what she's told and, ultimately, one of the lucky ones," it added.

Here is Gitti's entry for 1 February 1944: "The school had been bombed when we arrived this morning. Waltraud, Melitta and I went back to Gisela's and danced to gramophone records." In another raid on her Berlin neighbourhood in March 1943, two people are killed, 34 are injured and more than 1,000 are made homeless. Gitti writes: "It took place in the middle of the night, horrible, I was half asleep".

In November 1944, Hitler is trying to cripple the advances made after the D-Day landings by planning an offensive in the Ardennes, but Gitti – by now a member of the Nazi Party – is more concerned about her hairdo. She writes that she has just been given a "disastrous" perm by her hairdresser and is worried about going to work "looking a fright".

Then on 2 March 1945, while Hitler's troops are trying to halt the Red Army's advance just 60 miles east of Berlin, Gitti, now 18, goes to the cinema. She writes: "Margot and I went to the Admiralspalast cinema to see Meine Herren Söhne. It was such a lovely film, but there was a power cut in the middle. How annoying!"

The humdrum tone is all the more disquieting when it comes to the steady disappearance of Berlin's Jews – an issue that receives only one mention in the entire diary. On 27 February 1943, she ends a trivia-packed account about how she and her friend Waltraud go to the opera and get chatted up by soldiers on the way home with the entry: "Jews all over town being taken away, including the tailor across the road."

Brigitte Eicke is now 86. She still lives in east Berlin's Prenzlauerberg district, where she lived during the war. Just around the corner from where she worked as a secretary, there was a "collection centre" for Jews who were being sent to the Auschwitz death camp.

In a recent interview to coincide with the publication of her diary, she said: "My son always said to me: how could you be so oblivious? But I never saw a thing." She added: "There were some Jewish girls in my first class photograph taken in 1933 but, by the time the next one was taken, they were all gone. When I asked my mother about them, she said they had moved to Palestine."

Decades would pass before she grasped the enormity of the Nazis' crimes. "It was only when I visited Buchenwald in 1970 that I saw photographs of the camps. It took me years to realise what had gone on," she said.

Unlike thousands of young German women, Brigitte Eicke appears to have escaped being raped by Red Army troops when they took Berlin. But she lost her father and an uncle on the eastern front. Some German commentators have suggested that her naive and apolitical account of her experiences was an unconscious survival attempt.

"We just muddled through, we had no choice," is how she describes it.

Suggested Topics
News
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Secondary Trained Teachers for the watford area

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Qualified secondary teachers - ...

Primary Supply Teacher

£121 - £142 per day: Randstad Education Luton: KS1 & 2 Primary Supply Teac...

Primary Teacher

£115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Primary teacher to work across ...

Teacher of English

£121 - £140 per day + AWR: Randstad Education Luton: ENGLISH TEACHER REQUIREDW...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?