A Former Nazi Tells Her Story


“She may have been the first German, and certainly the first German woman, who tried to face her past with honesty.”

In a blog post for the New Yorker, Helen Epstein describes a remarkable memoir she has just reprinted at Plunkett Lake Press.

It’s by Melita Maschmann, a German woman who became “a hundred-and-fifty-per-cent Nazi” during World War II, even spying on her half-Jewish best friend’s family for the Gestapo. The book, written as a stricken apology to that friend, tries to figure out where Maschmann—and Germany as a whole—went wrong.

Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →