Blind Spot: Hilter's Secretary
Im toten Winkel - Hitlers Sekretärin
review by Carrie Gorringe, 20 September 2002

27th Toronto International Film Festival

Here's a new B-movie horror-film title to go along with The Blob and Mars Needs Women:  I Was Hitler's Secretary!  Unfortunately, young Traudl Junge (née Hupps) lived out that very role (right up to and including the infamous end in the sub-Chancellery Bunker), and, fortunately, decided to tell her story just before her death (she died from cancer just hours after the film premiered at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival).  In the process, she works her way through historical territory which by now is well-known (if not well-worn).   By the end, she is seen bitterly regretting the "young fool" that she was when she resided within the range of Hitler's charisma, but there have been many similar post facto renunciations. 

As with all of this post-Nazi-era tales, however, there's always the nagging question of just how much of this repentance was inspired by fear of reprisals or cynicism. Frau Junge's, however, is far more persuasive in its claim to legitimacy.  She was never a party member, but saw the idea of going to work in the Nazi steno pool as both something fun to do, and also as a means of escaping the notorious emotionally (and often physically) brutal upbringing that many of her contemporaries shared (it's ironic that it was through a most tangential relationship to the Nazi party – with its anti-feminist beliefs – that Frau Junge may have experienced her greatest personal and financial liberation).  She gained her position more through talent and luck (as the result of an open competition) than through having the right connections, and she claims not to have known that, at the end of the contest, the winner would be working directly with Hitler.  Moreover, Frau Junge wasn't quick to cash in on her fame:  she reluctantly conceded to tell her story, and was, perhaps, one of the few members of Hitler's entourage who nearly didn't.  As you watch the film, there's less of the usual feeling of voyeurism that you get from these so-called "confessions;"  Frau Junge's tale unfolds like a form of personal catharsis.  This, it seems, is the "real" story from as ordinary a person who was close to the inner circle as he/she was likely to get: the person who walked out from the belly of the beast with her morals reasonably intact.  But, did she really, and how are we to ever know?   Paradoxically, in many ways, her forthrightness adds to the ambiguity (the "deathbed confessional" nature of her interviews also adds a touch of unease) and this is what keeps her nevertheless remarkable story from becoming yet another of these I-was-in-the-bunker-with-Hitler stories. 

Toronto International Film Festival Coverage:



Directed by:
André Heller
Othmar Schmiderer

PG - Parental
Guidance Suggested.
Some material may
not be appropriate
for children.






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