Sunday 16 June 2013

Brigitte Eicke and her wartime diary

A quite wonderful diary that was written by a teenage girl in wartime Germany has just been published and is now being rubbished by the pure at heart. Der Spiegel says that she was "a cog in the wheels that kept Nazi Germany turning," and the Independent lambastes her prose as nothing more than a "banal account of everyday life."

Brigitte Eicke was 15 in 1942 and training as a secretary, who began writing the diary to improve her stenography skills. By all accounts she tells us about going to the cinema in an air raid, how she felt when her district was bombed and the joys of getting chatted up by some soldiers.

David Kynaston used a lot of similar diaries to write Austerity Britain, 1945-1951. None of the diaries deal with great events, and all are the accounts of ordinary people caught up in those extraordinary years. Yet I do not recall anyone damning those writers because they did not refer endlessly to the government and its actions.

Had this dairy been produced by a British girl then it would be hailed as an example of British pluck under fire, and how the people were determined to carry on with their lives as all hell raged around them. Brigitte is German so cannot be given the same treatment. She should have written an anti-Nazi screed to be taken seriously by people who were not even born when those terrible events were happening.

It is quite amazing to see the way in which modern, middle class liberalism seeks to set the terms of debate by presenting one narrative as heroic, or at least acceptable, and damning another as unacceptable and all because the work is not what the reviewer wants to read.

Especially when they are the same type of narratives written by the same type of people.

1 comment:

  1. I am an old liberal and would love to read this person's diary. It seems inconceivable that anyone could expect a teenage girl in Nazi Germany to have any other views than those she expressed. In fact, her normal contemporary opinions are what make her story logical, factual and intensely interesting. She was not Mozart or the White Rose, she was just a young girl.


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