Jan 30 2017
Brunhilde Pomsel, the former secretary to Nazi Germany’s propaganda boss Joseph Goebbels, has died aged 106.
Her job brought her into close contact with Goebbels – one of the worst war criminals of the 20th century.
She was one of the last surviving members of staff from the Nazi hierarchy, who only spoke about her experience later in life.
In a recent documentary, she said she had known nothing of the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust.
In “A German Life”, which was released last year, she said she felt no guilt – “unless you end up blaming the entire German population”.
Born in January 1911, Ms Pomsel worked as a writer for a Jewish insurance broker for a number of years during her late teenage years, before taking a similar job with a right-wing writer.
Although she claimed that she had always been apolitical, she joined the Nazi party when they took power in 1933, in order to take a government job with German national radio.
Her skill as a typist, she said, brought her to the role of Joseph Goebbels’ secretary in 1942, during the war, when he was minister of “public enlightenment and propaganda”.
She described Goebbels as “a good looking man … a bit short”, who was always well-groomed and well-dressed – but arrogant.
She said she was simply a secretary and knew little of the Nazi’s brutal actions during the Holocaust.
“The people who today say they would have done more for those poor, persecuted Jews… I really believe that they sincerely mean it,” she said in interviews for A German Life. “But they wouldn’t have done it either.”
But she always maintained that she did not share in the blame for the actions of her superiors.
“I wouldn’t see myself as being guilty,” she said. “Unless you end up blaming the entire German population for ultimately enabling that government to take control. That was all of us. Including me.”
Her Jewish friend, Eva Lowenthal, disappeared in November 1943. Sixty years later, Ms Pomsel discovered she had died in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Ms Pomsel was captured by Soviet troops at the end of World War Two – and spent the following five years in detention camps, before rejoining German broadcasting in 1950, where she worked for the next 20 years.
She would not speak openly about her time serving the senior Nazi official until a 2011 newspaper interview, and more extensively in the 2016 documentary.
She died in Munich a few weeks after her 106th birthday.