31 January, 2017
Brunhilde Pomsel, a secretary who worked in Joseph Goebbels' office during the Holocaust, helping one of the worst war criminals of the 20th century to churn out Nazi propaganda, died on January 27 in Munich, the Washington Post reported.
She describes Goebbels as a vain man whose hate-filled public speeches were hard to reconcile with what she said was his considerable charm when not in the spotlight. I only learned about the Jewish extermination programme after the war.
Even as the Nazi government launched its campaign of persecution and then deportation of Jews, she maintained her long-standing relationship with a Jewish friend, Eva Lowenthal, who would later perish at Auschwitz.
She described living in Adolf Hitler's totalitarian state as like being "trapped in a vast concentration camp".
As for later generations, "the people who today say ... they would have done more for those poor, persecuted Jews, I really believe that they sincerely mean it", Pomsel said.
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Still, Pomsel said, "when the Propaganda Ministry recruited me to work for Goebbels I couldn't say no".
Immediately before the murder-suicide, Goebbels and his wife killed their six young children by breaking cyanide vials into their mouth.
The secretary had previously spoken of the experience last days in Hitler's bunker, in which Nazi officials "numbed themselves" by drinking a lot of alcohol.
After the Second World War, she was captured by the Soviet troops and reportedly spent five years in various detention camps. She is not thought to have married or had children.
In 2011, Brunhilde Pomsel broke a 66-year vow of silence about the Nazi regime when she gave an interview to popular German newspaper Bild. Her skill as a typist brought her to the office of Goebbels, the Nazi minister of "public enlightenment and propaganda". "I could open myself up to the accusations that I wasn't interested in politics but the truth is, the idealism of youth might easily have led to you having your neck broken".
She added: "There are ever fewer eyewitnesses left".