Brun­hilde Pom­sel, 106; Goebbels’ sec­re­tary

Pawtucket Times - - REGION/OBITUARIES - By EMILY LANGER The Wash­ing­ton Post

Brun­hilde Pom­sel, a sec­re­tary to Nazi pro­pa­ganda min­is­ter Joseph Goebbels who late in life came for­ward to pub­licly re­flect on, if per­haps not fully reckon with, ques­tions of per­sonal and col­lec­tive guilt in the face of the Holo­caust, died dur­ing the night of Jan. 27 at her home in Mu­nich. She was 106.

Her death was con­firmed by Roland Schrot­thofer, a di­rec­tor of "A Ger­man Life," a doc­u­men­tary drawn from dozens of hours of in­ter­views con­ducted with Pom­sel when she was 103.

No other de­tails were im­me­di­ately avail­able.

Pom­sel was one of the last sur­viv­ing mem­bers of the Nazi hi­er­ar­chy's most in­ti­mate staff, but she spent all but the fi­nal years of her life in ob­scu­rity. She be­came widely known only af­ter the pre­miere of the doc­u­men­tary in Nyon, Switzer­land, in 2016. The U.S. re­lease is forth­com­ing.

The film, directed by Schrot­thofer, Chris­tian Krönes, Olaf S. Müller and Flo­rian Weigen­samer, presents an ar­rest­ing por­trait of an or­di­nary Ger­man swept into the Nazi ap­pa­ra­tus in her youth, then left to re­flect for more than seven decades on her com­plic­ity, if any, in its crimes.

Pom­sel sparkled on cam­era in her lu­cid­ity. She con­fessed to har­bor­ing "a bit of a guilty con­science" but pro­fessed that she had known noth­ing of the mur­der of 6 mil­lion Jews dur­ing the Holo­caust — the "mat­ter of the Jews," as she termed it — un­til af­ter the war was over.

"Ev­ery­thing that is beau­ti­ful is also tainted," she said in the film, obliquely. "And what­ever's hor­ri­ble also has its bright side. Noth­ing's black and white. There's al­ways a bit of gray in ev­ery­thing."

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