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 ~

About kaystrom

Kay Marshall Strom, who am I? Well, I’m a traveler, a railer against social injustice, a passionate citizen of the world. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m a 21st century abolitionist who speaks out against slavery of all kinds. I am a beach walker and a gardener and the off-key singer of songs. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. Most people, though, know me as a writer and a speaker. So here is a bit more about that part of my life: Of my 43 published books, eight have been book club selections, seventeen have been translated into foreign languages, and two have been optioned for movies. My writing credits include numerous magazine articles, books for children, short stories, television scripts and two prize-winning screenplays. Along with my husband Dan, I also have produced a series of booklets for writers. My writing has appeared in a number of volumes including three versions of the NIV Devotional Bible and the devotional book My Heart, Christ’s Home, Through the Year. I love to write, and I love to share about topics close to my heart. I speak at seminars, retreats, writer’s conferences, and special events throughout the country. And because I do enjoy travel, I even speak on cruise ships! More and more my writing and speaking are drawing me to countries and cultures around the world. Because I don’t see how a writer can really reflect another people and land without spending time there, I’ve been trekking through India, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Sudan, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, tape recorder and camera in hand, to gather stories from the world-wide family of God and to speak on their behalf. I’ve traveled to the hard places of the world to tell “the rest of the story” of our donor dollars at work. Thanks to my “virtual friendship” with 17th century John Newton, slave ship captain turned preacher, I traveled through Ireland with the preview team of the movie Amazing Grace (John wrote the hymn). I recently spoke in Japan and South Korea, and my husband Dan and I taught writing classes in India. And, oh, how thankful I am for every bit of it! I went to West Africa to work on a non-fiction book, but when I toured an old slave fortress off the coast and saw a tiny set of baby manacles bolted to the wall, I was struck dumb. All I could think was: “How could good, God-fearing people ever get to the place where they think that is okay?” From that horror came a story question, and from that question, my foray into fiction: The Grace in Africa trilogy. My seven trips to India led to the Blessings in India fiction trilogy. Come join me as I travel and rail against injustice. Join me as I walk along the beach, or work in the garden, or warble a tune. Be my friend. Maybe you will choose to also be a 21st century abolitionist.
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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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