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Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary (PG)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: None stated

There can be few jobs more daunting in the world than that of being Adolf Hitler’s private secretary, one would have thought. Yet, according to Traudl Junge, who worked alongside him from 1942 until his suicide in 1945, one of history’s greatest tyrants actually became something of a father-figure, and was a charismatic, yet quietly spoken, boss.

The incredible story of Junge’s relationship with Hitler is recounted in Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary, an at times riveting documentary from Austrian-born Jewish filmmaker, Andre Heller.

At the age of 22, Junge was an impressionable young girl who travelled to Berlin in the hope of furthering a career as a dancer, but who found herself working for one of the world’s most powerful men instead.

As a result, she was alongside the dictator until the final collapse of the Nazi regime, spending time in the Wolf’s Lair (his field headquarters in East Prussia), at his Bavarian residence at Berchtesgaden and on the Fuhrer’s special train. He even dictated his final will and testament to her, just hours before taking his own life.

But while Junge fell under his paternal spell while in his company, her eventual realisation of the horrors of the Third Reich - and its treatment of the Jews, in particular - left lasting scars, which she refused to speak about until the time of her death, years later, at the age of 81.

Only in her final moments did she think that she could forgive herself for the youthful naivety which allowed her to remain so loyal during her younger years, and only as the world began to ‘let go’ of her, did she feel she could finally let go of her experiences.

The ensuing film - which takes the form of a 90-minute interview, condensed from 10 hours’ worth of material - makes for compelling viewing, providing an extremely personal insight into the last days of Hitler and those around him, including Eva Braun.

Heller, together with documentary filmmaker, Othmar Schmiderer, has produced a historically important record of Junge’s unique experiences, which deliberately renounces any form of stylistic embellishment and instead relies entirely on the compelling force of one woman’s tale.

How well it works as a piece of cinema depends entirely on how interested you are in history, but there is no denying its power, particularly during the eye-opening second half, when Junge faithfully recreates the final three days of Hitler’s regime, providing a fascinating insight into the decaying state of the dictator’s mind - a dejected and vulnerable loner, on the verge of defeat.

Needless to say, the movie does not make for easy viewing - particularly as there are times when the white text of the subtitles is placed upon Junge’s white jumper, making reading extremely difficult - but listening to Hitler’s former secretary describe the way in which her blind devotion turned into a vehement hatred provides a timely reminder of the effect of war upon the people who are forced to live in its shadow - even after the fighting has ceased.

 

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