(Review) A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City by Anonymous

Publisher and Publication Date: Picador. 1953. My eBook Kindle copy, 2017.
Genre: Memoir. World War II. Germany. Post World War II. Women and Literature.
Pages: 300.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of World War II memoirs.
Rating: Excellent.

The translator of the diary is Philip Boehm.

Amazon link
The Kindle price is $2.69 today.

Summary:
A Woman in Berlin is a diary (kept in 3 notebooks) by a 34 year old German woman during the final weeks of World War II and the first few weeks of post war Germany.
She had worked as a journalist. She’d traveled in Europe before the war.
The diary began April 20, 1945. The diary ends June 22, 1945.

Two important points:
~This is a diary and not a complete historical record of World War II. It is the personal life and private thoughts of this German woman.
~The memoir is a trigger for people who have been sexually abused.

Warning! The memoir depicts graphic rape scenes.
In other books I’ve read, the rape scenes are not described in detail like this book. This memoir is the before, during, and afterwards of rape. Nothing in this memoir is romantic and beautiful. It is heart-wrenching, sad, and painful.

My Thoughts:
~I am a survivor of sexual abuse. This book triggered my difficulty in sleeping, flashbacks, and an overall uneasiness.
~I saw through her eyes the German soldiers as they retreated. In addition, she provided a surreal and disturbing account of the bombings, basement sheltering, scarcity of food and water, starvation, the violence of the Soviet soldiers, and civilian death and burial.
She acknowledges the harsh bitterness against the Nazi’s who caused this.
She confesses: “We’ve been led by criminals and gamblers, and we’ve let them lead us, like sheep to the slaughter.” Page 129.
~The 100,000 German women who were raped by Soviets were of all ages. The Soviet Army did not always discriminate who they plundered. German women who had babies might be ignored. Girl children might be ignored. Teenage girls were vulnerable because they were thought to be virgins. Elderly women were plunder. Females were considered war plunder with no rights and they were to accept this behavior!

Other Thoughts:
~In Berlin, at the end of the war, there were women, children, and old men.
~Women began to have a different attitude towards men. They were surviving (or not) without the men who had led them astray. They had a bitter attitude towards men. They had a pitiful attitude towards men.
~After the war is over information came to her and others about the Holocaust.

Final Thought:
The diary doesn’t reveal what she knew about the Holocaust before the war ended. I don’t know what she knew or what she thought. When she heard about the crematory in the camps it was one more thing to add to her oppressed soul.

I searched online to find who was the anonymous woman author. Her name was Marta Hillers (1911-2001).

Quote of the Week

“Everything was so strange-the stranger for its being night in the day-time, and the candles burning with a white flame, and looking raw and cold-that I read the words in the newspaper without knowing what they meant, and found myself reading the same words repeatedly. As it was of no use going on in that way, I put the paper down, took a peep at my bonnet in the glass to see if it was neat, and looked at the room which was not half lighted, and at the shabby dusty tables, and at the piles of writings, and at a bookcase full of the most inexpressive looking books that ever had anything to say for themselves. Then I went on, thinking, thinking, thinking; and the fire went on, burning, burning, burning; and the candles went on flickering and guttering, and there were no snuffers-until the young gentleman by-and-by brought a very dirty pair; for two hours.”
Bleak House. Page 43. Charles Dickens (1812-1870).

(Review) Ephesians: The Love We Long For, Study Guide with Leader’s Notes by Scotty Smith

Publisher and Publication Date: New Growth Press. August 24, 2020.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Bible study.
Pages: 160.
Source: I received a complimentary eBook copy from New Growth Press, I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Christian readers who love Bible study.
Rating: Very good.

For more information on the Ephesians study at New Growth Press.

Author Info:
Scotty Smith graduated from The University of North Carolina, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Covenant Theological Seminary (DMin). Smith planted and pastored Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN, for twenty-six years. He worked on pastoral staff of West End Community Church as teacher in residence and also served as adjunct faculty for Covenant Seminary, Westminster (Philadelphia), RTS, Orlando, and Western Seminary in Portland, OR. He authored Unveiled HopeObjects of His AffectionRestoring Broken ThingsEveryday PrayersEvery Season Prayers, and Ephesians: The Love We Long For. Scotty and his wife of over forty-five years, Darlene, live in Franklin, TN.

Follow Scotty Smith on Twitter (@ScottyWardSmith) and Facebook.

Summary:
There’s Nothing More than the Gospel
New Bible study of the book of Ephesians reveals the boundless, timeless, endless, bottomless love we all long for.

Am I loved? The central question of every human heart is answered with a resounding yes in Ephesians: The Love We Long For (New Growth Press/August 24, 2020) by Scotty Smith. Through this easily accessible, self-contained small group study, each participant will grow in their understanding of the riches of God’s grace and how the love of Christ shapes every relationship and interaction they have with others.
 
Smith invites men and women to reflect on the God of the Bible by reading the book of Ephesians slowly. Through the study guide, they will discover the implications of God’s love for every aspect of their lives and relationships—including husband and wife, parent and child, in the workplace, and within the church family.
 
The author describes Paul’s letter to the church as swinging on a hinge. The first five lessons of the study guide examine the first three chapters of Paul’s letter, on the first side of the door. “Having explored the wonders of salvation in Christ, at the end of chapter 3, Paul kneels to pray that the Father would fill the Ephesians with that gospel,” Smith writes. “He asks that they ‘may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge’ (Ephesians 3:18–19). This is the boundless, timeless, endless, bottomless love we all long for.”
 
The seven lessons that follow go into an in-depth examination of the second half of Paul’s letter. “Paul swings open the door, as it were, and walks into the Ephesians’ daily lives. The Ephesians were the fruit of Paul’s missionary work, so he realized they were living in a culture that neither knew nor understood Jesus and his life-giving message. With this in mind, he addresses topics that range from patience and contentment and industriousness to parenting and singing and sex. But he never forgets how he got there. He keeps calling the Ephesians—and us—back to the hinge. The love we long for is the why and the how, and importantly the who, of a believer’s whole life.”
 
Each of the twelve lessons in Ephesians: The Love We Long For includes rich discussion questions, exercises, and articles to encourage deep examination of the text for one-to-one discipleship, small group, or large group settings. The study will help readers see how the New Testament letter presents God’s great love for us in Jesus. As Smith explains, there’s nothing more than the Gospel, just more of it. Ephesians is a book crammed full of the riches of God’s grace.
 
Of Smith’s Bible study, Scott Saulsauthor and pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church (Nashville) writes, “This wonderful, practical work on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is a treasure. Part commentary and part devotional, we learn about the church and also ourselves as seen through the eyes of the One who loved us and gave himself for us. Whether you use this book to prepare talks or sermons, as devotional material, or for group discussion, I pray that its effect on you will be contagious, and that the very truths that have gripped the author’s heart will also get a grip on yours.”
 
Ephesians: The Love We Long For is part of The Gospel-Centered Life in the Bible series published by New Growth Press in partnership with Serge. Each book in the series examines how the gospel story is revealed throughout both the Old and New Testaments. The other new releases in the series are Revelation: Hope in the Darkness (also by Smith) and Titus: Life-Changing Truth in a World of Lies by Jeff Dodge. Ruth: Redemption for the Broken by Jared Wilson and Jonah: Grace for Sinners and Saints by Iain Duguid are also available. The Gospel-Centered Life for Students series includes studies of Exodus and Mark.

Endorsements:
“Titus is one of the most potent but often overlooked books in the New Testament. In this helpful resource, Jeff Dodge admirably brings Titus’s message to bear for contemporary believers.”
~ Jason K. Allen, President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Spurgeon College
 
“If you ever spend any time with Jeff Dodge, you will notice within five minutes that he exudes gospel clarity, missional gravity, and Christian joy. That combination comes through in this book, as he guides the reader through the riches of Paul’s letter to Titus. This book shows how similar our world is to that faced by Paul and Titus, and then applies the triumphant power of that letter. You will be strengthened and equipped by this book.”
~ Russell Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
 
“With a shepherd’s care and a teacher’s insight, Dodge excavates fresh, helpful, and clarifying riches from this important epistle that are sure to strengthen your heart and your walk with Christ.”
~ Jared C. Wilson, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry at Spurgeon College; author of The Gospel-Driven Church

My Thoughts:
What I love about the Ephesians study:
~A Gospel Glossary is included at the end of the book. Words like glorification and propitiation are sometimes unknown to new Christians. The glossary is not lengthy but beneficial.
~Leader’s Notes. These notes (over lessons 1-12) are not just for the leader in the study, but for people who are reading the book and want clarification and understanding. This is important additional teaching to clarify the “conversation sections.”
~Each of the 12 chapters have a lesson section, article to read, and exercise (questions). These are brief reading sections.
~I feel the Bible study is clear, concise, approachable, and reflective.

The Ephesians study is more for a group study. The study can be managed for single personal use.

(Review) Out of No Way: Madam C. J. Walker and A’Lelia Walker, A Poetic Drama by Roje Augustin

Publisher and Publication Date: Boukman Press. May 9, 2020.
Genre: Poetry.
Pages: 106.
Source: I had originally received a complimentary pdf. I could not view the book, so I bought my own copy at Amazon. My review is of a self-purchased eBook Kindle copy. This review is my own opinion. I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of poetry. Women aged 18-55, young adults, high school and college students, teachers and professors, cultural institutions like Museum of African American History and Culture, etc.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link

I am apart of the Poetic Book Tours for this book of poetry.

Author Information:
Rojé Augustin is a native New Yorker who grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her first novel, The Unraveling of Bebe Jones, on which her drama series pitch BEAU REVE is based, won the 2013 National Indie Excellence Award in African American fiction. She wrote the novel while
living in London and Sydney as a stay-at-home-mom. She established Breaknight Films shortly after her move to Sydney in 2009 to develop and produce projects across a range of formats, including television, web, and audio. Her first Sydney based project was a podcast and visual web
series called The Right Space, which explores the relationship between creatives and their workspace. In 2013, Rojé’s script The Weekly: Women Who Shaped a Nation was selected for the Australian Writer’s Guild Pathways Program. In May 2020, Rojé published a debut poetry
collection titled, Out of No Way Madam C.J. Walker and A’Lelia Walker, A Poetic Drama, which tells the story of Madam Walker’s phenomenal life story. Rojé continues to work as a producer while also writing in her spare time. She is an Australian citizen who currently lives in Sydney with
her Aussie husband and two daughters.

Summary:
A dramatic poetry book that tells the remarkable rags-to-riches story of Madam C.J. Walker and her daughter A’Lelia Walker.
New York, NY, July 2020 — Author, producer and emerging poet Rojé Augustin has written a groundbreaking debut collection of dramatic poems about hair care entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker and her daughter A’Lelia Walker.
Out of No Way: Madam C.J. Walker & A’Lelia Walker, A Poetic Drama tracks Walker’s phenomenal rise from penniless orphan to America’s first self-made female millionaire in dramatic verse.
Born Sarah Breedlove to former Louisiana slaves in 1867, Madam C.J. Walker was orphaned at seven, married at 14, became a mother at 17, and was widowed at 20. After the death of her first husband, Sarah moved to St. Louis with her daughter where she earned $1.50 a day as a washerwoman. When her hair starting falling out she developed a remedy and sold her formula across the country. In the process she became the wealthiest Negro woman in America.
Rojé’s highly original and accomplished poetry is written through the lens of the mother/daughter relationship via different poetic forms — from lyric poems to haikus, blackout poetry to narrative (one poem takes its inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’) — with each chapter
addressing issues relevant to their lives at the time. Written against the backdrop of the Jim Crow era, Out of No Way is ultimately an examination of what W.E.B Du Bois called “conflicting identities.” Sarah was a proud African American on the one hand and a woman seeking America’s
acceptance on the other. She was a pauper who achieved the American Dream while denied the rights and protections of the American Constitution. She was a wife, mother, and business woman who juggled the demands of family with the demands of career. And she was an orphan who had to transcend a brutal childhood in order to be a loving mother to her child. As Du Bois stated at the time, “One ever feels a two-ness. An American, A Negro…Two warring ideals in one dark body.”
Indeed Madam C.J. Walker/Sarah Breedlove was an American and a Negro, as was her daughter, A’Lelia Walker, both of whom likely viewed herself through their own conflicting identities. What did they see?
Out of No Way tells Walker’s remarkable rags-to-riches story by exploring thoughtful questions —
What impact did Sarah’s busy work life have on A’Lelia? What was the bond between a mother orphaned so young and the daughter who might wait days or weeks for her return? Could the death of her parents when she was a child have compromised Sarah’s nurturing instincts? How did A’Lelia feel about their newfound wealth? What, if any, were the drawbacks of that wealth?
Rojé’s collection of dramatic poems joins an exciting line up of works about Madam C.J. Walker and A’Lelia Walker — from a forthcoming book by Walker’s great-great granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles, to Self Made a Netflix original series, this trailblazing woman’s life story serves as an important reminder that race is a barbaric construct to be dismantled and discarded for good.

My Thoughts:
These poems are original and evocative, but the first word that comes to my mind is powerful.

The poems are deeply emotional. My first impression is the love between the mother and daughter. However, there are other emotions explored. For example, the fear and anguish because of the lynchings and murders.

Some examples of the types of poetry is acrostic, alliteration, couplet, dramatic monologue, elegy, epistle, lament, and occasional poem.
I love the creative idea and work of using different types of poetry. I feel this is original and brilliant.

Included is a speech given by Madam C. J. Walker at an Anti-Lynching Conference in June 1918.

My favorites poems:
Lelia, Knoxville College 1902-1904 “Reading”
The Prison of Racism that Hate Built
The Salon that Art Built
The Lost Letters

Included are quotes from: Ancient Proverb, Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, and Susie King Taylor.

(Review) Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower

Publisher and Publication Date: Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2013.
Genre: Nonfiction. World War II history. German history. Nazi Germany.
Pages: 288.
Source: Borrowed eBook, library copy.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. This book is specific to German women involved in the Nazi pogrom.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon link

Ilse Koch
Irma Grese
Female SS German camp guards at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp

Summary:
Hitler’s Furies is an analysis of German women who were actively involved in the Nazi genocide during the Holocaust.
These women worked in several different areas: nursing, secretary, guards, and teaching. Also, these women were often the wives of Nazi soldiers (especially wives of high ranking officers).
Hitler’s Furies explores several German women who were known perpetrators. Their personal stories are brief. Their atrocities are examined in detail.
One of the last chapters in the book explores why these women committed such horrific crimes?

My Thoughts:
The main reason I was drawn to this book is its subject. I’d not read a book in particular about female German Nazi criminals. Another book came close to this subject: Ravensbruck by Sarah Helm.

In my mind, women are more apt to be maternal, compassionate, settled, and domestic. Most of the women I’ve known have had these traits to some degree. I know of one family where it was the husband/father who has been the primary childcaring parent. Hitler’s Furies has ended my naivete.

In every case, the female perpetrators became monsters. They were vicious, vile, despicable people. It’s difficult to rationalize (wrap my mind around) their behavior. It’s difficult to believe this behavior didn’t continue after the war.

This is a hard read because of the subject. But if you are a reader of World War II and the Holocaust, this book is important.

Some of the women published their stories many years later, but were selective in what they revealed. Their motive was to share what had happened, but they did not want to be faulted and condemned. In Lower’s research, she had to be acutely aware of who to trust in their personal reflections.

~I feel Hitler’s Furies is thorough in its research and text.
~The dryness of the details is offset by illustrations from the perpetrator’s stories.
~I believe it is impossible to read this type of book and not judge. I have a heart and it has been pricked by the evil actions of these women.