Christabel Bielenberg, The Past is Myself
In 1934, shortly after Hitler’s rise to power, Christabel Burton, a beautiful woman from an influential Anglo-Irish family, married a liberal young German lawyer, Peter Bielenberg, and they settled in Berlin. When Allied bombing made the city too dangerous she fled with their children to a small village in the Black Forest, where she experienced a very different society from the Nazi-dominated one she had left behind. The Past Is Myself is her surprising account of life in that ‘other Germany’, and of her own nail-biting encounter with the Nazi regime.
Nella Last, Nella Last’s War
In 1937 the social research group Mass Observation set about creating a record of everyday life in Britain by recruiting 500 volunteer diarists. One of these was Nella Last, a housewife living in Barrow-in-Furness with a husband and two grown-up sons, one a trainee tax-inspector and the other in the army. So far, so seemingly ordinary, but there was nothing ordinary about Nella. Her account of life in wartime Britain is not only an unrivalled piece of social history but also the portrait of a woman you feel could have run the country, given half a chance.
Kindness of Strangers
‘If you get out now, Gnädige Frau, you can take the underground and you will be in the city in no time,’ said a fellow traveller to Christabel Bielenberg on a stationary train just outside...Read more
An Extraordinary Ordinary Housewife
To her readers at the headquarters of the Mass Observation organization in London, she was merely a number (diarist 5353), an occupation (housewife), and an age (49). The labelling was bureaucratic...Read more