Spot - Hitler's Secretary
Director: Amdre Heller, Othmar Schmiderer
Cast: Traudl Junge
Duration: 90 minutes
If you were told that you were to spend the next ninety minutes
watching a film that was all interview, a focus on a talking
head without any visual relief except the interviewee's change
of clothes and, sometimes, watching herself on a video monitor,
you might well beg out of the experience. But, you would be
mistaken. This is an absorbing documentary, an interview with
a woman who brings to life the last years of the Third Reich.
Traudl Junge was one of Hitler's private secretaries from
1942. He dictated his last will and testament to her. On the
whole, she did not see much of Hitler until she was in the
Bunker in the final days, although she was interviewed by
him for the job.
Her description of those times becomes increasingly vivid
and detailed as she warms to her subject (although it is a
relief to hear her say at various times that she does not
remember some things). The interview is at its most powerful
in her recollections of the very last days, an eyewitness
to Hitler's retreat into another world while still blaming
the German people for not responding to his vision and their
mission, especially to rid Europe of the Jews.
The important aspect of the inverviews is Frau Junge's continually
asking herself why and how as a twenty year old, she could
have been so unquestioningly caught up in Third Reich propaganda,
could have been charmed by Hitler's personality and not asked
herself what was really going on. For decades, she did not
give interviews but, finally, she was persuaded to talk to
film-maker, Andre Heller, in 2001. Her testimony is honest,
self-condemnatory, puzzled at herself as a young girl - and
finding some small way to atone and to forgive herself. It
is recording of interviews like this that remind us how important
it is to have visual records for the future.
Sadly, Frau Junge died of cancer the morning after the film
was screened at the Berlin Film Festival in February, 2002,
at the age of 81.