Until the Final Hour: Hitler's Last Secretary
In 1942 Germany, Traudl Junge was a young woman with dreams of becoming a ballerina like her sister, when she was offered the chance of a lifetime. At the age of twenty-two she became private secretary to Adolf Hilter, and she served him for two and a half years, right up to the bitter end. Her memoir, which she wrote not long after the war when the memories were still fresh, offers a unique and chilling glimpse of the human face of this man known to posterity as a monster.
As part of the secretarial pool, Junge observed the intimate workings of Hitler's administration. She traveled back and forth with him between the Wolf's Lair in eastern Prussia and Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps, and finally to the bunker in Berlin. She typed correspondence and speeches, including Hitler's public and private last will and testament. She and the other secretaries ate their meals and spent evenings with him, as well as with Eva Braun and high-ranking Nazi officials. She was close enough to hear the bomb that was intended to assassinate Hitler in the Wolf's Lair. She heard the shot with which Hitler ended his life, and smelled the bitter almond odor of Eva Braun's cyanide pill.
But while Junge was witness to crucial events in Hitler's last years, it is her precise, detailed observations of the outwardly normal, almost mundane quality of day-to-day life with Hitler that prove most disturbing in her memoir. In this she confirms once again - as did Victor Klemperer in his diary I Will Bear Witness - what Hannah Arendt has called the banality of evil.