Screened as part of NZIFF 2002
Traudl Junge was Adolf Hitler’s private secretary from autumn 1942 until the collapse of the Nazi regime. She worked for him at the Wolfsschanze, on his private train and finally in the bunker where it was her task to transcribe his final will and testament. Breaking a five-decade silence, 81-year-old Junge talked last year about her life in the corridors of Nazi power, both to biographer Melissa Muller and to the makers of this film. André Heller and Othmar Schmiderer filmed ten hours of interviews from which they fashioned a 90-minute portrait in which Junge simply talks to the camera about Hitler and life inside the Third Reich. We also see her watching the film herself. There is no other contextualisation.
Junge’s sustained, vivid account of the final days in the bunker conveys a picture of nullified power as numbingly ghastly as anything Milton ever visited upon the Devil. The powerful, functioning Hitler she describes is an altogether more ordinary figure. The filmmakers appear to have encouraged Junge to address the burden of having, in her early 20s, been rather fond of ‘a pleasant boss and fatherly friend’. Whatever one makes of her public contrition, her testimony to the mundane, domestic nature of Hitler’s immediate environment, in which inner squabbles and intrigues were more pressing than the devastation of Europe, is salutary. Junge died in a Berlin hospital only hours after the film’s première at the Berlin Film Festival in February. — BG