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Festival Review

Typing for the Führer: Traudl Junge
Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary
by Jürgen Fauth

Guide Rating -  

 

Traudl Junge was 22 years old in 1942 when Adolf Hitler selected her as his private secretary. At the Wolfschanze and later in the Führerbunker in Berlin, Junge took dictation from her boss, who she regarded as "pleasant," a friendly private man without the aggressive bluster of his public persona. Sixty years later, the Junge told her story to Andre Heller and Othmar Schmiderer. There isn't anything on the screen but the articulate octogenarian, but the real movie happens in the audience's heads as they imagine her tale.

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And what a tale it is: from Hitler's relations to Eva Braun and his personal doctor to the fate of his dog Blondie, Junge witnessed the Führer up close and personal. She was at the Berghof on the day of Stauffenberg's failed assassination attempt and lived through the harrowing last weeks underground in the Führerbunker. Her narration of the collapse of the Reich, told in a single 25-minute take, is evocative and harrowing. Jung took down Hitler's last will to the sounds of Russian artillery fire and fed bread and jelly to Goebbel's children while the Führer removed himself from culpability for his monstrous crimes by gunshot.

Intercut with her story are shots of Junge watching herself, adding and amending and reacting to her own tales. The evident regret and pain on her face make it difficult to summarily condemn Junge for her close alliance with the worst horrors of the 20th century. Junge likens her unique position in the heart of darkness to the eye of a storm, a blind spot where everything was calm. And yet, she says, she could have made more of an effort to find out. She could have had more courage.

Junge was "denazified" by the allies in 1947 under a youth amnesty program and, as the truth about the crimes of the Third Reich emerged, lived out her life as her own harshest judge, unable to forgive herself, tormented and depressive. Junge's regret for her own malleability is overwhelming, and it is difficult not to feel compassion for her. Traudl Junge died on the day after the film's German premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.

Blind Spot is showing at the New York Film Festival on October 10. The film is scheduled to open in the U.S. on December 25, 2002.


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