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Goebbels’ secretary, Brunhilde Pomsel, dies aged 106
I once knew someone who had a most responsible job, but quite often missed the key point of a situation.
Metaphorically, if he had been an actor playing the role of Hercule Poirot in an Agatha Christie mystery, called to a room where a murder victim was on the floor in front of him, then he may not have noticed the corpse but would remark on the pattern of the curtains!
There are few people though, of a certain age, who have never been in a work environment without not knowing what was going on. Many will either have put two and two together from documents they saw, had to work on, or will have overheard discussions about.
After that, they either agree with what is around them, disagree but remain silent out of fear or to keep their jobs, comment to a colleague trusting their confidence (rightly or wrongly), become a whistleblower – with the huge risks relating thereto, or decide they have to leave under an issue of conscience.
If they reported their concerns within or outside their employ, then those very people may also be involved or suppress any report.
Sometimes the wrong-doing may be negligible, but often it could be serious. To condone makes one a co-conspirator, to turn a blind eye will be guilt by association – complicity.
Putting all of the above within the setting of Nazi Germany in WWII raises the stakes even higher.
For some, matters of conscience were a luxury item as it would inevitably result in one’s death and that of a whole family, friends, neighbours, sometimes villages through Nazi reprisals.
Bearing all these factors in mind, I read this article and heard the specific radio interview, but remain uncertain as to the truth of the matter.
On the one hand total innocence of this woman seems implausible – she must have typed up some highly classified reports. She was chosen because of her skills. Even if she was aware and was complicit in that regard could she have walked away and still live?
For some, death would be preferable than living under such association but that takes great courage and a strong belief in their Faith. Thank God that most of us have never been so placed in such dire circumstances, as it is only then that we would truly know what we would do or not. For this person, any judgment as to her guilt or innocence is now between her and her God.
It is not for me to try and deduce such weighty matters, though some who survived those evil times may indeed know the answer.
In post war decades the world was fooled by some in the Nazi connected circles who claimed innocence for years then were later proved to have blood on their hands all along. One such person was on a number of high profile TV talk programmes.
I will never forget learning about the facts recorded by hangman Pierrepoint who officiated after War Crime trials. For someone in his confidential official position he was very efficient and matter of fact in his record keeping as well as expediting his particular type of expertise.
He had to hang a number of men and women one day and one was a young female prison guard. Ironically, although she was one of the last in a line waiting to be hung, he apparently took her to meet her fate ahead of her turn as he said she would be more nervous waiting than the others.
That confused me from a philosophical standpoint and still does.
Another man was repeatedly hung by others not so skilled at their craft and the convicted man had to be cut down, still alive, then walk back immediately to have another noose put around him. Only on the third occasion was the job done. The whole thing was filmed and it was difficult to watch, but then again, no doubt so would his crimes have been.
Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine