11 January 1911|
Berlin, German Empire
27 January 2017 (aged 106)|
|Occupation||Stenographer and typist, secretary, broadcaster|
Brunhilde Pomsel (11 January 1911 – 27 January 2017) was a German woman who, as a personal secretary to Joseph Goebbels from 1942 onwards, was one of the last surviving eyewitnesses of the Nazi power apparatus. She was also a broadcaster and died in 2017 at the age of 106.
Born in Berlin in 1911, Pomsel worked as a stenographer for a Jewish lawyer and as a typist for a rightist nationalist, at one point working for both simultaneously. In 1933 she gained a job as a secretary in the news department of the Third Reich's broadcasting station after joining the Nazi Party. On the recommendation of a friend, she was transferred to the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda in 1942, where she worked under Joseph Goebbels as a shorthand writer until the end of the war. According to Kate Connolly in the Guardian, Pomsel's tasks included "massaging downwards statistics about fallen soldiers, as well as exaggerating the number of rapes of German women by the Red Army". After the fall of Berlin in 1945, Pomsel was imprisoned by the Soviet NKVD until 1950 in three different concentration camps, Buchenwald, Hohenschönhausen and Sachsenhausen.
After being released from the NKVD camp in 1950 Pomsel escaped from the Soviet-occupied zone to West Germany, where she worked as a secretary with the state broadcaster Südwestfunk in Baden-Baden and then at ARD in Munich until her retirement in 1971. On her 100th birthday in 2011, she publicly spoke out against Goebbels. A documentary called A German Life, drawn from a 30-hour interview with Pomsel, was shown at the Munich International Film Festival in 2016.
Towards the end of her life Pomsel lived in Munich, where she died on 27 January 2017 at the age of 106. Shortly before her death she revealed that she had been in love with Gottfried Kirchbach, who was Jewish, and with whom she planned to escape Germany. Kirchbach went to Amsterdam to arrange a new life and Pomsel visited him there regularly, until he told her she was endangering her life by doing so. A doctor advised her to abort the child of theirs she was carrying, because she had a serious lung complaint and she might have died.
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