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'Blind spot' insightful piece on Hitler's wartime secretary

BLIND SPOT: HITLER'S SECRETARY — *** 1/2 — Documentary on Traudl Junge, secretary to Adolph Hitler from 1942-45; featuring interviews with Junge; in German, with English subtitles; PG (adult themes); see "Playing at local movie theaters" for complete listing of local theaters.

"Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary" is ridiculously no-frills, even by the usual documentary film standards. It's little more than a filmed interview, using a camera-and-tripod set-up, which never moves.

Yet, the movie manages to be more thoughtful and interesting than at least 90 percent of the other films out there right now — maybe even 90 percent of the other documentaries out there.

And because it does so without any camera trickery or fact-fudging, and without any archival footage, it seems even more compelling and fascinating.

The film's title refers to its subject, Traudl Junge, the woman who was secretary to Adolph Hitler from 1942 until the end of World War II and who typed up the Nazi dictator's last will and testament.

Junge stayed silent on the subject of her former employer for more than 50 years and emerged from that silence only long enough to consent to a series of interviews between April and June 2001 with Andre Heller and cameraman Othmar Schmiderer. (The film also remains her last word on the subject, as Junge died of cancer as the documentary was debuting at last year's Cannes Film Festival.)

She recalls how she came to be in Hitler's service. It turns out she wanted to be a dancer but as a matter of circumstances wound up taking a typing test instead and passed muster. As for why she took the job, she says she was "simply too curious" to refuse.

Junge also claims in the film to have been unaware that her boss was an "absolute criminal" and that she remained naive about Nazi atrocities. (The other part of the film's title comes from Junge's quote about being in Germany's supposed "blind spot," a location that felt isolated from the rest of the war.)

Such insights are not only enlightening but also chilling, reminding us to become informed citizens.

And at the end of the film, Junge reveals one more tidbit — she was relieved to find that Americans were not the butchers she had been led to believe.

"Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary" is rated PG. Though the film does not contain any objectionable material, it does discuss the Holocaust and World War II battles. Running time: 87 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com