Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary (2002)

Genres - History  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Military & War, Politics & Government  |   Release Date - Jan 24, 2003 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - Austria   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Josh Ralske

Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary is a deceptively simple documentary, and a compelling example of the form. Some may complain that the film lacks the breadth and power of such Holocaust documents as Claude Lanzmann's Shoah, which used a similarly direct, bare-bones technique in its interviews with both survivors and collaborators. But the film does illuminate its subject, which is not Hitler himself, who remains a fairly unfathomable figure, but Traudl Junge. Junge was once a naïve and optimistic young woman who accepted a job working for the Nazis more out of curiosity than ideology. The film presents her in her dotage, but her recollection of her experiences is vivid. For a while, the film just shows Junge relating her carefree earlier days working for the Nazis, and her girlish interests, and she doesn't seem especially remorseful about her past. She describes her family as "apolitical," and claims that she came to work for the Nazis through "coincidence, chance, and foolishness." She describes how she won Hitler over during her initial interview with him by making him laugh. But filmmakers Andre Heller and Othmar Schmiderer cannily convey the extent of Junge's remorse by sporadically cutting to a shot of her watching her own testimony as it unfolds. She watches herself in a tremulous and agitated state, mouthing her words back as she listens to them, interrupting with corrections and clarifications. It's clear that she's still wrestling demons. The information she provides is sometimes limited to banal details about Hitler's eating habits and the like, but her distinct point-of-view is critical to improving our understanding of the events she witnessed.