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Account Rendered was first published in Germany in 1963 as Fazit: Kein Rechtfertigungsversuch or Account Rendered: No attempt at justification. Maschmann wrote to Hannah Arendt that her intent in writing this memoir was to help her former Nazi colleagues think about their actions, and to help others “better understand” why people like her had been drawn to Hitler. Written a Account Rendered was first published in Germany in 1963 as Fazit: Kein Rechtfertigungsversuch or Account Rendered: No attempt at justification. Maschmann wrote to Hannah Arendt that her intent in writing this memoir was to help her former Nazi colleagues think about their actions, and to help others “better understand” why people like her had been drawn to Hitler. Written as a letter to an unnamed Jewish girl, this memoir details the trajectory of a socially-conscious, well-educated, middle-class girl as she joins the Hitler Youth, supervises the eviction of Polish farmers from their land and works in the high echelons of Nazi press and propaganda. Maschmann was arrested in 1945, at the age of 27, completed mandatory de-Nazification and became a freelance journalist. This eBook edition includes a new introduction explaining how the Publishers identified Maschmann’s high school Jewish friend, Marianne Schweitzer Burkenroad, born in 1918 and now living in California. In an afterword, she recounts for the first time her friendship with Maschmann and her reactions to Account Rendered.


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Account Rendered was first published in Germany in 1963 as Fazit: Kein Rechtfertigungsversuch or Account Rendered: No attempt at justification. Maschmann wrote to Hannah Arendt that her intent in writing this memoir was to help her former Nazi colleagues think about their actions, and to help others “better understand” why people like her had been drawn to Hitler. Written a Account Rendered was first published in Germany in 1963 as Fazit: Kein Rechtfertigungsversuch or Account Rendered: No attempt at justification. Maschmann wrote to Hannah Arendt that her intent in writing this memoir was to help her former Nazi colleagues think about their actions, and to help others “better understand” why people like her had been drawn to Hitler. Written as a letter to an unnamed Jewish girl, this memoir details the trajectory of a socially-conscious, well-educated, middle-class girl as she joins the Hitler Youth, supervises the eviction of Polish farmers from their land and works in the high echelons of Nazi press and propaganda. Maschmann was arrested in 1945, at the age of 27, completed mandatory de-Nazification and became a freelance journalist. This eBook edition includes a new introduction explaining how the Publishers identified Maschmann’s high school Jewish friend, Marianne Schweitzer Burkenroad, born in 1918 and now living in California. In an afterword, she recounts for the first time her friendship with Maschmann and her reactions to Account Rendered.

30 review for Account Rendered: a Dossier on my Former Self

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kupersmith

    Melita Maschmann was an author whom I’d long been seeking unaware. As a fifteen-year old in Germany she had been swept off her feet when Hitler came to power in 1932, and went on to become a senior press officer in the BDM, the girls’ division of the Hitler Youth. In the early 1960s she published this memoir, which became a German best-seller. It takes the form of a long letter to a Jewish exile who had been a childhood friend, an account of her work in the Third Reich and arrest in 1945 by the Melita Maschmann was an author whom I’d long been seeking unaware. As a fifteen-year old in Germany she had been swept off her feet when Hitler came to power in 1932, and went on to become a senior press officer in the BDM, the girls’ division of the Hitler Youth. In the early 1960s she published this memoir, which became a German best-seller. It takes the form of a long letter to a Jewish exile who had been a childhood friend, an account of her work in the Third Reich and arrest in 1945 by the Americans, and gradual coming to understand both the appeal and the evil of Nazism. I’ve long wondered how one could both be a decent person and yet a supporter of that regime, and Maschmann’s Account Rendered gives a partial answer. She rarely uses the slang expression “Nazi” and prefers the formal term “National Socialist.” We often forget that there were many who really did believe in the socialist part, in the idea of a national community that would unite the entire nation regardless or economic or social class, which accounts for its appeal. Maschmann seems to have been unaffected and almost unaware of the horrible features of the ideology: racism, Anti-Semitism, and glorification of violence and mass murder. During the process of denazification at first the internees tried to believe the death camps were Allied propaganda till they realized such huge piles of corpses could not be faked. At first Maschmann’s participation in the regime consisted mostly of being the German equivalent of a Girl Scout leader. Her only connection with the Nazi’s crimes was in assisting the removal of Poles from the Posen region to be replaced by ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsch). Her own contribution consisted of little more than teaching their children to use a toothbrush. In the last days Melita accompanied young choristers to the front lines, now only a short distance from Berlin, to entertain the troops, just before the Russian onslaught. She herself expected to perish but instead found herself in Austria hiding with some undercover SS men, and then was arrested by the Americans. During the early allied occupation, anyone who had any sort of leadership role in Nazi Germany was interned. As she recovered from her infatuation with National Socialism, Maschmann saw how the Nazi ideology had not intellectual substance, but a strong attraction to many of the romantic elements of German culture. I discovered that later Maschmann became a freelance journalist and then a Hindu contemplative in India. It seems a fitting conclusion for the career of a repentant National Socialist. Had I known her (and I wish I had - first visited Germany about the time this book was first published), I’m not sure I’d have liked her but I think I’d have envied her seriousness and her dedication and admired her sincerity. Fortunately, this memoir is now available on Kindle, and readers can decide for themselves. I felt this book taught me a lot about judging others.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    FROM THE FLY-LEAF ... Melita Maschmann's memoir (publ 1964) ... without self-exculpation or self-pity ... she changed from an ordinary 15 year old schoolgirl in 1933 into a high-ranking member of the Nazi elite ... blindly dedicated ... she remained loyal to National Socialism against all protests of truth and justice ... imbued with the latent antisemitism of her parents' generation ... when she saw Jews, Poles and others suffer she switched off her feelings ... because to think for oneself or FROM THE FLY-LEAF ... Melita Maschmann's memoir (publ 1964) ... without self-exculpation or self-pity ... she changed from an ordinary 15 year old schoolgirl in 1933 into a high-ranking member of the Nazi elite ... blindly dedicated ... she remained loyal to National Socialism against all protests of truth and justice ... imbued with the latent antisemitism of her parents' generation ... when she saw Jews, Poles and others suffer she switched off her feelings ... because to think for oneself or to make moral judgments was immoral in the time of Germany's need. BEFORE READING THE BOOK ... I am going to hate this woman ... but will certainly understand more about the sickness that so many ordinary Germans welcomed and allowed to control their lives. NOW I HAVE READ THE BOOK ... My conclusion is that, despite her protestations to the contrary, Maschmann's memoir is a self-justifying lie! So must be many (most?) of the claims of Germans that they never knew. Perhaps they didn't want to know and looked the other way, but that is a very different thing. Nevertheless, Maschmann's writings provide significant insight into what a young Nazi was thinking, and perhaps why. Here are a few of her reflections ... ... we thought the Nazi's violent antisemitism was a passing phase, a propaganda stunt ... the fact that I was involved in something greater than myself relieved me of any sense of guilt ... I wanted to attach myself to something that was great and fundamental Maschmann's mantra … I would repeat these same verses 10 or 15 times over ... "You must believe in Germany as firmly, clearly and truly as you believe in the sun, the moon and the starlight. You must believe in Germany, as if Germany were yourself; and as you believe your soul strives towrd eternity. You must believe in Germany - or your life is but death. And you must fight for Germany until the new dawn comes." ... I never allowed any of my experiences to prompt me to come to grips with the so-called "Jewish Question" for myself … my antisemitic attitude seemed to me to be a natural part of my National Socialist outlook … basically the problem did not interest me ... LMW: it is thus vital to understand why antisemitism was so natural for Germans. My own view is that it was largely the centuries-long persecution and denigration of Jews by the Catholic and Lutheran churches. ... on Kristallnacht … I forced the memory of it out of my consciousness as quickly as possible ... on the night of the broken glass our feelings were not yet hardened to the sight of human suffering as they were later in the war ...as the years went by I grew better at switching off quickly ... it was the only way to avoid the onset of doubts about the rightness of what had happened ... and serious doubts would have torn away the basis of my existence from under me ... on the invasion of Poland ... I was utterly convinced of our superior moral position … the news of 'Bloody Sunday' at Bromberg … the German press reported that 60,000 German nationals had been murdered in an appallingly savage manner ... my clear recollection was that we had invaded Poland after the news of Bloody Sunday had reached Berlin … in point of fact the events happened in reverse order … but my version, which I held until a few months ago, was much better for easing our political conscience. ... our noble, refined and intellectual German qualities were in danger of being suppressed by the brutality of the primitive Poles ... England had conquered a world empire … France had acquired colony after colony … now at last Germany's historic hour had come ... the dream of her greatness would become a reality in the Reich of our Fuhrer … there was an irresistible fascination with the words 'Reich' and 'Fuhrer' ... we had no idea there was evidence at Nuremberg that Hitler really had murdered millions of people … and (in 1946) we never thought to ask: what if the American allegations about the concentration camps are true after all? ... many former Nazis still say … how much better it was in Hitler's day … in those days, they believed in something that roused them from their humble existence

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    This book gets a lot better as you go along. The interpretation leaves it feeling clunky but it's the kind of clunky where you can get into the rhythm of it. I usually avoid nazi stuff like the plague but this book nagged me to read it. It's a different perspective from the usual. I spent an entire night reading it without putting it down for longer than 20 minutes. It was that riveting. As her story goes along you become more and more horrified, more and more mixed up about the way she hardened This book gets a lot better as you go along. The interpretation leaves it feeling clunky but it's the kind of clunky where you can get into the rhythm of it. I usually avoid nazi stuff like the plague but this book nagged me to read it. It's a different perspective from the usual. I spent an entire night reading it without putting it down for longer than 20 minutes. It was that riveting. As her story goes along you become more and more horrified, more and more mixed up about the way she hardened herself to the suffering around her and clung to her indoctrination for so long. You probably won't come away from this memoir feeling that you like the author. I don't even feel confident that she is a reliable narrator. I think in either case she lost her mind just a bit. Who wouldn't? But then you read about the people who greeted her with openness and automatic forgiveness and understanding and how those were the people who brought her around to reality. This book serves up a lot of big lessons and a lot of deep things to think about. More people should be reading it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Helen Epstein

    Now a Kindle book, this rare memoir by a female Nazi perpetrator is difficult, painful but necessary reading.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    An important read, thankful my book club selected it because, it is a really difficult but salient read. The author gives an account of her actions as part of the Hitler Youth, details the appeal and draw of Hitler, Nazism, the dehumanization of everyone not Aryan/German, and her post-war imprisonment. Ultimately the book seems like a apology; the author admits guilt, however states the book is not a justification for her actions.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tocotin

    I read this one in Polish. The book itself was fascinating; the translation so atrocious that I actually cried in frustration. I wish I could read it in original; maybe I’ll try to get it in English. Absolutely essential reading for anyone who wants to learn more about WW2.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Melita joined the Hitler Youth in her teens, and spent her years until the end of the war as a committed national socialist. This book covers those years, why she joined, what she did, and her thoughts in hindsight once the war was over on the party movement. In theory this should have been a very interesting book; and i don't know if something got lost in translation, but it is a very dull read. It starts to pick up in the final quarter as the war is coming to an end and her experiences and tho Melita joined the Hitler Youth in her teens, and spent her years until the end of the war as a committed national socialist. This book covers those years, why she joined, what she did, and her thoughts in hindsight once the war was over on the party movement. In theory this should have been a very interesting book; and i don't know if something got lost in translation, but it is a very dull read. It starts to pick up in the final quarter as the war is coming to an end and her experiences and thoughts after the war, but other than what happened (which is fascinating) - it is a poor read. As for how Jews were treated by the party she so fiercely supported and believed in, this is pretty much brushed over and ignored. There must be better accounts than this on first-hand experience of Nazi supporters... I just need to find them.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tom Cunniff

    Intriguing, and honest The most fascinating aspect of this book is the author's detachment. One would expect her to either be more defensive ("not really my fault because...") or more anxious to demonstrate her virtue by condemning her former self ("I see now that I was a monster...") Instead, we get as truthful an account as she can muster of her own blindness - she believed she was doing good and important things and at times that was right and at times anything but. The stark warning is about Intriguing, and honest The most fascinating aspect of this book is the author's detachment. One would expect her to either be more defensive ("not really my fault because...") or more anxious to demonstrate her virtue by condemning her former self ("I see now that I was a monster...") Instead, we get as truthful an account as she can muster of her own blindness - she believed she was doing good and important things and at times that was right and at times anything but. The stark warning is about that very blindness; our natural urge to always see ourselves as virtuous and blameless, and to not see what we do not wish to see. It's not an easy or fun read - much of it is painfully dull - but IMO it's a necessary read. The dullness, the quotidian slipping into evil because one is too busy to examine what is happening, is part of the point.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    "To conclude from this that I did not love the Fuhrer and was not inspired by him would be false. I was happy that a 'man of the people,' the son of a customs official should have succeeded in rising to be the head of the Reich. This symbolized my highest idea - the National Community. I ascribed to the political genius of the Fuhrer all the successes which the Third Reich has achieved: the elimination of the postwar misery and of the disunity our people had suffered in a multi-party state; the "To conclude from this that I did not love the Fuhrer and was not inspired by him would be false. I was happy that a 'man of the people,' the son of a customs official should have succeeded in rising to be the head of the Reich. This symbolized my highest idea - the National Community. I ascribed to the political genius of the Fuhrer all the successes which the Third Reich has achieved: the elimination of the postwar misery and of the disunity our people had suffered in a multi-party state; the liquidation of the dictated peace of Versailles and the effacing of the 'dishonor' inflicted upon us by our former enemies; the 'bringing home' of the lost frontier territories and of the Volksdeutch Germans from the Diaspora. And finally, had he not given meaning to my own life by calling upon me to serve my nation?" "I feel angry and ashamed when I hear them [postwar German internees] speaking of their years of internment in West Germany as their 'time in the concentration camp,' and I never let such misuse of language go uncorrected. We, my comrades and I, were not in a concentration camp. We were not subjected to cynical torture by our interrogators. We never had to fear the deadly injections of the camp doctors or the gas chambers." "Furthermore, I questioned the documentary authenticity of the concentration camp posters. They were all faked photographs, designed to defame us Nazis as subhuman...But the question kept posing itself: Where do these mountains of starved corpses come from? That kind of thing cannot be faked." "I should never have embarked upon an adventure of this kind if I had not felt utterly convinced that it was unjust for my friends and myself to be treated as an inferior breed." "Something uncanny must have happened here. Not only to us but to countless of our compatriots. We had allowed ourselves to be fascinated by a 'dream of the Germans,' without ever having any precise idea of its significance or content." "Only in 1950 or 1951,...did I suddenly grasp how narrow this love [as projected in the National Community} had been - a kind of primitive family selfishness. What good are kindness, self-sacrifice, energy and a sense of responsibility, if they are so jealously guarded that only one's brothers and sisters may benefit from them? Not much more than the instinctive reactions which keep a herd of wild animals together." "Up till that day, in all the confusion of my psychological state, I had still be ruled by the feeling that my former companions and I had been wronged. To begin with, I sheltered behind the notion that it was democracy, which had locked us up like criminals and tried us, that had wronged us - we who had been willing to make every sacrifice. Later the idea gradually permeated me that it was really Hitler who had wronged us." "What I learned about myself and what we all should learn, even those of us who are not forced to such self discovery, is that the frontier between good and evil can run straight through the middle of us without our being aware of this. None of us - not even the most educated, sensitive and cultivated, not even the pious man - should feel immune from the possibility of one day, too, becoming the blind and cold hearted servant of evil." Melita Maschmann was a committed National Socialist from the time she was 15 in 1933 until the 1950s. Her story, as told in the form of an essay/letter to her best childhood friend, who was Jewish, does not try to explain or to justify that commitment. She wished for understanding and for that understanding to become the opening for a dialogue. In these days of genocide and ethnic cleansings, we should all read this and finally open the dialogue.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Danzel

    I finished this books months ago I just forgot to review it. Anyways, I read this for a course in college and I got to say, it was quite interesting to get a perspective of a person who was part of the Nazi party. Although I don't agree with her political views, meh it not like it matters I'm not here to discuss politics. Anyways, I'll recommend this book if your're a history buff like me, but if I'll stay away if you're easily offended. I finished this books months ago I just forgot to review it. Anyways, I read this for a course in college and I got to say, it was quite interesting to get a perspective of a person who was part of the Nazi party. Although I don't agree with her political views, meh it not like it matters I'm not here to discuss politics. Anyways, I'll recommend this book if your're a history buff like me, but if I'll stay away if you're easily offended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Fantastic book, especially the epilogue Truthful and revealing. Best insight into the puzzle of Naziism. Thank you to the author for sharing and reflecting on her experience.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Roberts-Miller

    Incredibly disturbing--how a relatively normal person got involved with the Nazis, rationalizing the genocides and criminality.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Prooost Davis

    This is that rarest of books, a confession by a former Nazi, which attempts, with an impressive amount of success, to explain the author's choices without justifying them. Melita Maschmann tells of her activities in the Hitler Youth, and frames the story as a letter to a childhood Jewish friend. As I read through the book, Maschmann's zeal for National Socialism struck me as akin to religious ecstasy. National Socialism hit Melita at an impressionable age, and she was a girl susceptible to the rom This is that rarest of books, a confession by a former Nazi, which attempts, with an impressive amount of success, to explain the author's choices without justifying them. Melita Maschmann tells of her activities in the Hitler Youth, and frames the story as a letter to a childhood Jewish friend. As I read through the book, Maschmann's zeal for National Socialism struck me as akin to religious ecstasy. National Socialism hit Melita at an impressionable age, and she was a girl susceptible to the romance of a movement she could dedicate herself to with the energy and single-mindedness of a teenager. All German children at the time had grown up in a country humiliated by the loss of the First World War. The Nazi movement promised salvation and greatness. And what about the dark side of Nazism that is so obvious to us? Confronted by Kristallnacht, Melita had a momentary realization that something wasn't right, but she immediately pushed that realization down with a rationalization about the "evils" of "international Jewry." I believe that, to her, her ideology was so precious that it needed to be protected from any opposing truths. I see this sort of thinking played out in today's world. One of Maschmann's activities in the Hitler Youth was to assist in the settlement of German farmers in Poland. Part of that process was the eviction of Poles from their homes. The Poles were made to leave some of their furniture for the incoming German settlers! If Melita saw the cruel unfairness to the Poles, she was able to rationalize that Germany was at war, and that the Poles were the enemy. After the war, Maschmann was imprisoned, rightly, for her wartime activities. At this time, she was far from repentant. She considered herself a victim of her American conquerors, and she continued to rail against democracy. It was several years after her release from prison that she happened to meet some people, evangelical Christians in her case, who were able to gently get her to see the error of her ways. As I read Account Rendered, I was constantly on my guard for signs of self-justification. Certainly, her recounting of her experiences in the war convey the excitement she found in her work. But the final chapter convinced me of her sincerity.For anyone who has once gone astray so disastrously in their political views as I have, to pass judgment--in the sense that I have given my remarks here--is a risk. I was recently asked if the thought never occurred to me that I might be erring in my judgment all over again and could therefore be obliged to recant later. I replied: "No one is proof against making political errors at any time, but wherever one is concerned with people living together--and politics also covers this--there is always a simple commandment and with it a yardstick: human kindness. Where it is sinned against callously, the politics are wrong. Anyone who does not endeavor to avoid wars at all costs, anyone who locks up political opponents or tortures them in other ways just because of their opinions, anyone who out of lust for power or frivolity inflicts suffering on members of his own or of foreign nations, however tempting may be the political idea he advocates, I will in future always be opposed to him."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kitty Red-Eye

    A difficult book. Not as bloody as your usual WW2 accounts, so that is a relief of sorts. As said in the afterword, Maschmann was among the very first Germans to publish and publicly announce her own previous Nazi conviction and experiences, and I guess that takes its own bravery and backbone. It’s interesting as an account of how so many Germans became Nazis - Maschmann herself was 15 in 1933 - and also interesting as an account of all kinds of extremism, as I believe the extremist mindset to b A difficult book. Not as bloody as your usual WW2 accounts, so that is a relief of sorts. As said in the afterword, Maschmann was among the very first Germans to publish and publicly announce her own previous Nazi conviction and experiences, and I guess that takes its own bravery and backbone. It’s interesting as an account of how so many Germans became Nazis - Maschmann herself was 15 in 1933 - and also interesting as an account of all kinds of extremism, as I believe the extremist mindset to be rather the same, no matter the specifics of the conviction. They all think that the end justifies the means. I still didn’t like the book very much, though. I can’t quite explain why. It’s interesting, but also not very engaging. I thought it would be. I don’t quite know what to make of it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barbara M

    A powerful book! It is the true account of an active member of the Hitler Youth Movement who became head of press & propaganda. She tells her own account of how she got involved and how she came to terms years later with what she had done.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alissa

    Wow, what an important book. I've never encountered a memoir about someone who faces their own Nazi past. Do any other books similar to this exist? What courage to speak of such things. I certainly learned a lot about human behavior. Wow, what an important book. I've never encountered a memoir about someone who faces their own Nazi past. Do any other books similar to this exist? What courage to speak of such things. I certainly learned a lot about human behavior.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Luis González Serra

    Es un libro-biografía-testimonio muy interesante, que habla del régimen nazi por boca de alguien que estuvo dentro de él. Probablemente tenga ese valor: ya que hay tantos otros que hablan y no lo vivieron, al menos esta mujer sí se puede decir que "estuvo ahí". Es un libro-biografía-testimonio muy interesante, que habla del régimen nazi por boca de alguien que estuvo dentro de él. Probablemente tenga ese valor: ya que hay tantos otros que hablan y no lo vivieron, al menos esta mujer sí se puede decir que "estuvo ahí".

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Awful self-serving account. Stills seems like she has no concept of her guilt and evilness.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Miles Jackman

    Maschmann offers interesting insights into the psychology of imperialism. While settling German farmers on Polish land, she recalls thinking about how England had conquered a world empire for herself and France had won colony after colony; now it was Germany's turn to build its thousand year Reich. When she remembers how she felt that she should not show fear or weakness in front of the "inferior" Poles one is reminded of English colonizers and their doctrine of keeping a stiff upper lip at all Maschmann offers interesting insights into the psychology of imperialism. While settling German farmers on Polish land, she recalls thinking about how England had conquered a world empire for herself and France had won colony after colony; now it was Germany's turn to build its thousand year Reich. When she remembers how she felt that she should not show fear or weakness in front of the "inferior" Poles one is reminded of English colonizers and their doctrine of keeping a stiff upper lip at all times. The autobiography is easy to read; I finished it in three days. At times you are conscious of the fact that you are reading a translation, but for the most part the style is natural, fluid, and direct. Account Rendered has an important message for an age which is beginning to forget the lesson of where Hitler's seductive theories can lead.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Amazing personal journey of a young girl who joined the Hitler Youth and became a dedicated National Socialist. Very honest about her dedication to the cause of Greater Germany allowing her to become blinded to what was actually going on around her, as well as her disillusionment and feelings of betrayal after the war ended.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David Cooper

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

  23. 4 out of 5

    Helen Andrews

  24. 4 out of 5

    David Bird

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ezgili

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ivy Pope

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ben K

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ruchi

  29. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Vesey

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