Brunhilde’s Uncomfortable Secret

Everyone has secrets. Some have more than others. And Brunhilde Pomsel’s secret was a doozy. It wasn’t until she was 103 years old and almost blind that her past finally caught up with her.  From 1942 to 1945 she was the private secretary for Nazi propaganda master Joseph Goebbels.  Of course, she knew nothing about the Holocaust–or as she called it, the matter of the Jews.”  (According to the Nazis of the day, hardly any of them knew anything about it.)

So what did Brunhilde do for her vicious, anti-Semitic boss?  She wrote reports that understated Nazi casualties and exaggerated the rapes of German women by solders in the Red Army.

In the final days of the war, Brunhilde hid in the basement of the propaganda ministry with other government folks.  The day after she learned Adolf Hitler had killed himself, her boss Goebbels and his wife poisoned their six children with cyanide, then killed themselves.  Brunhilde helped sew white food sacks together to make a white surrender flag.  She spent the next five years imprisoned by the Soviets.

When people insisted to her that they would never have cooperated with the Nazis, as politely as possible she would answer, “I believe you are sincere.  But you probably would have.”

Thank you, Brunhilde, for causing me to think.  And consider.  And prepare to take a stand of my own.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

~ Margaret Mead ~

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6 Responses to Brunhilde’s Uncomfortable Secret

  1. It is very easy to say, “I would never…” or “I would have…” when we aren’t in the difficult position of making that choice. I learned to stop saying things when I had to make my own tough decisions.

    I admire you for taking a stand, whatever it is. 🙂

  2. B.J. Taylor says:

    Oh, oh, oh…how can one person know what another person had to endure and how can that person judge? During my life I’ve had to make difficult choices. To hear someone say “I would never…” leaves me feeling belittled, but then I rise above the pain and sadness and realize: They know not what they say..or do. I pity that person’s inability to feel empathy and to see how it pains the one they say it to. Oh, to stop and think before speaking.

    • kaystrom says:

      You’re right, of course, B.J. I think any of us who have gone through hard things dread hearing “If I were you, I would…!” Especially when we are looking back with the eyes of history.

  3. kaystrom says:

    I almost agree with you, Jeanette. 🙂 It’s all too easy to speak, but so very hard to know the ramifications of what you’re saying. But I so respect your decision to just stay quiet.
    Love to you!

    • Oh, no! Kay, I just read your reply and then re-read my original comment and realized there was a mistake in it that totally changed the meaning. Grrr!

      Here is what I meant to write: It is very easy to say, “I would never…” or “I would have…” when we aren’t in the difficult position of making that choice. I learned to stop saying things LIKE THAT when I had to make my own tough decisions.

      I was responding to the paragraph where people insisted that they never would have cooperated with the Nazis.

      What I was trying to say (and probably should have added) was, I’d like to think that I would be brave enough to take a stand against evil, but I’ve never actually had to. I’ve had to stand up against other awful things, but I’ve also kept quiet when I shouldn’t have. So I guess I’ve stopped trying to predict my own responses. Instead I pray that God will give me the boldness to stand a stand when it’s called for.

      • kaystrom says:

        Ahh. Thank you, Jeanette. I so agree with you. We pray to God that we will never be put into such a position. But as you say, we still face circumstances when we have to take a stand. May God give us all the strength to stand firm.

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