Past Is Myself: An Englishwoman's Life in Berlin Under the Nazis / Christabel Bielenberg

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On 29 September 1934, at the German Embassy office in London, Christabel Bielenberg officially became a German citizen. Having met her German husband Peter two years prior, Christabel decided to renounce her British citizenship, planning to start married life with Peter in Berlin. Though Adolf Hitler had risen to power in 1933, Christabel and Peter were convinced the German people would see through the newly elected chancellor.

But soon Christabel found herself living under the horrors of Nazi rule and Allied bombings as the war progressed. Closely associated with resistance circles, her husband was arrested after the failure of the plot against Hitler’s life on 20 July 1944, and she herself was interrogated by the Gestapo. Though she lived in constant fear for her and her family’s safety, Christabel survived the war with the help of other like-minded Germans who were against Hitler and the Third Reich.

With various memorable encounters – from a simple-minded Nazi official who was also her odd-job gardener to the good-hearted Black Forest villagers who sheltered her till the liberation – Christabel shares not only the hardships and worry but also the humour and humanity she found during these dark days. The human dimension of her writing brings about an unforgettable portrait of an evil time.