"Capital abhors the absence of profit or very small profit as nature abhors a vacuum. With the appropriate profit, Capital becomes bold. With a guaranteed 10 percent, it's readily available; at 20 percent it gets lively; at 30 percent it's positively daring; at 100 percent it will trample on every human law; at 300% there is no law it won't risk breaking, even at the risk of the gallows; at 600% it will climb over mountains of corpses and trample every manifestation of human decency into the earth." Karl Marx


The Tragedy of Traudl Junge

June 21, 2005

Until The Final Hour: Hitler's Last Secretary, by Traudl Junge,
edited by Melissa Mueller, translated by Anthea Bell.
245 pages, $13.95 (paperback), Arcade Books, New York 2004.
(Originally published in Germany in 2002 as Zur Letzten Stunde. Hitlers Sekretärin erzählt ihr Leben.)


September 1, 1939
Hitler informs the German parliament of the state of war with Poland. He says, "I will carry on this fight, no matter against whom, until the safety of the Reich and its rights are secured!"

It is 1941. Since invading Poland on September 1, 1939 under the propaganda cover of responding to a "Polish raid" (actually staged by the German SS) on the German radio station at Gleiwitz, near the Polish border, Germany has waged the most successful war in history in western Europe. Every country there, including France, Poland, Belgium, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway has either been militarily defeated, signed an armistice, or declared its neutrality. A plan to invade the British Isles, never particularly popular with Hitler, is shelved because of the Luftwaffe's inability to establish the air superiority considered necessary for its success. Having protected its rear, Germany will invade the Soviet Union on June 22. Its elimination is the cornerstone of Hitler's New Order. He doesn't call it a New World Order because he is willing to coexist with the British Empire in exchange for a free hand on the continent.

Traudl Junge (born Gertraud Humps), having left school to help support her divorced mother is working at a secretarial job in Munich which she hates. She dreams of relocating to Berlin and pursuing a dancing career. Through links of friendships involving her sister, who is already in Berlin, she gets a job in the mailroom of the Reich Chancellery there (equivalent to the Whitehouse in the US). After one of Hitler's three personal secretaries gets married and quits, Traudl is selected by Hitler as a replacement. With Hitler's encouragement, she marries one of his valets, Hans Hermann Junge, who is a member of the SS. Hermann volunteers for duty at the front and Traudl's husband, whom she hardly knew, is killed within a year.

Traudl continues working for Hitler, and in her memoir, written in 1947, she describes the social side of the daily life in Hitler's inner circle throughout the period of Germany's deteriorating military situation.

She leaves Hitler's bunker in Berlin after he and Eva Braun commit suicide on April 30, 1945 and she describes the struggle to survive in the immediate postwar chaos and the gradually improving conditions thereafter.

In the later years of her life, she begins to consider her personal responsibility for the horrors perpetrated by the leader she served and she suffers through a period of depression. Her defense of immaturity is shattered when she encounters a memorial to Sophie Scholl who was executed in 1943 at the age of 21 for distributing antiwar leaflets and she ultimately accepts her personal responsibility for not resisting the Nazis.

Traudl Junge
born March 16, 1920
died February 11, 2002


Despite some flaws in the translation, especially in the first 100 pages or so, a few typographical errors, and an absence of commas where they would have been helpful, it's actually a book well worth reading.

What might be considered as part of the translation issue, the book assumes the English-speaking reader knows enough German history to know the meaning of the terms "anti-republican" (opposed to the Weimar Republic) and "Räterepublik" (soviet republic). In my opinion this is not a good assumption and it would have been helpful to most readers if these terms had been explained in their German context.

More substantively, the book is a struggle by Frau Junge to come to terms with her experiences of the war in the face of two handicaps, her own limited education and US propaganda. In a sense the two are related in that the first made her vulnerable to the second.

Her education failed to give her the historical perspective which would have enabled her to see the Third Reich for what it was: Within the framework of intra-capitalist rivalry, it was a perfectly legitimate attempt by German capitalism to shatter the limitations of the subordinate role forcibly assigned to it by Anglo-American capitalism as a result of its defeat in WW1 and simultaneously to destroy Bolshevism. The latter project, i.e., the destruction of the USSR, was recognized by every capitalist and monarchist state, including the Vatican, as a universally desirable objective.

Until The Final Hour
By Traudl Junge
Edited by Melissa Müller
Arcade Publishing, New York
245 pages
$13.95 in paperback

Nevertheless, as universally desirable as it was, Anglo-American capital recognized a critical fact: The state that slew the communist dragon would ultimately rule the world. This led to the remarkable alliance between the Soviet Union and the Anglo-American allied capitalist states against Hitler Germany. For the USSR, the issue was survival. For Anglo-American capital, the issue was to deny to Germany, and to reserve to themselves, the privilege of slaying the communist dragon and the logically ensuing right to dominate the world.

What Traudl Junge experienced, but did not understand, was the propaganda campaign that was necessary to cloak this utterly amoral realpolitik, which Hitler understood perfectly, in the cloak of a moral crusade. Instead of its natural amorality, the US, preparing itself for its role as the dragon slayer and world hegemon, undertook a two-pronged propaganda campaign, each component of which fed the illusion of the US as, unique among the world's states, a moral state on a moral crusade.

The first element of the campaign was to conceal itself as the inheritor of the Third Reich's campaign to destroy Bolshevism. To support this deception, the US had to "discover" that its ally in defeating Hitler Germany was, to its great surprise and without crediting Hitler Germany with recognizing it sooner, immoral. Not coincidentally, this momentous discovery came within weeks after Germany's defeat.

The second element to support it's claim to being a moral state required an immoral state against which to contrast itself. This role was fulfilled perfectly by militarily defeated, and hence defenseless, Hitler Germany. The Nuremberg trials of the Third Reich's leaders, ostensibly establishing universal legal precedents, were an essential component of this campaign.

Thus were the simple,predictable, and greed-driven imperatives of intra-capitalist competition for global hegemony clothed in an elaborate costume of morality.

For over half a century, with the assistance of its own very powerful propaganda apparatus, itself camouflaged as a democratic free press, the US managed to sustain the illusion of itself as a uniquely moral, altruistic state.

This era came to an end with the US invasion of Iraq in March of 2003. Preceded by the usual campaign of necessary lies, the US' moral image was shattered by its inability to crush the Iraqi Resistance Forces before the lies were exposed.

Now, in the third year of a war of aggression and led by war criminals, the American people are finding that their cherished symbols of democracy, namely the three branches of government kept in check by a constitutionally guaranteed separation of powers, a free and independent press, a two-party political system, and free elections, were no more sacred than was the Weimar constitution for Germany.

Traudl Junge died in February, 2002, about two years before she could have realized that the guilt she bore was the necessary negative image for America's positive image as a moral state and that, in reality, the similarities between Hitler Germany and Bush America are greater than their differences.

Therein lies the tragedy of Traudl Junge.