One or two other people, colorless, unremarkable. A community of discards, unwanted at the front, rejected by the Volkssturm, the civil defence. A few of our group are missing: the baker, who's gone out to his garden plot to bury his silver (he's the only one in the building with a red Class III ticket), and Fräulein Behn, a brash spinster who works in the post office, who just raced off to fetch today's news sheet during a lull in the bombing. Another woman left for Potsdam to bury seven of her family who died in the heavy bombardment there. The engineer from the fourth floor is also absent, along with his wife and son. Last week he boarded a barge that was to take him and his household goods along the Mittelland Canal to Braunschweig, where his armaments factory has been moved. The entire workforce is heading for the center of the country. It must be dangerously over-populated - unless the Yanks have already arrived. We no longer know a thing.
Midnight. No power. An oil lamp is smoking away on the beam above me. A sudden spike in the constant drone outside sets off our mania, and we all wrap our cloths around our mouths and noses. A ghostly Turkish harem, a gallery of half-veiled death masks. Only our eyes are alive.
Excerpted from A Woman In Berlin by Anonymous. Copyright © 2006. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company, Incorporated. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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