Account Rendered: A Dossier on My Former Self

Friday, March 13, 2015
Melita Maschmann
Account Rendered: A Dossier on My Former Self

My first big-girl job was with an insurance company, at its Detroit branch.  I worked with a woman, Pat, who was born and raised in Germany and crossed the pond as a GI bride. We were fascinated by Pat's backstory but we didn't ask. She didn't speak about growing up until one night, at a company celebration, she told us how she had had a glorious girlhood, living with a group of girls her age up in the mountains where it was beautiful and invigorating and such. We asked if she knew what what going on around her. Then she became evasive.  She had said too much to us. We wouldn't understand.

Last year, I read  The monuments Men : Allied heroes, Nazi thieves, and the greatest treasure hunt in history . Looking at the bibliography at the end, I found an older memoir written by a young German women, Melita Maschmann, allegedly to her childhood best friend, a young German Jewish girl, entitled Account Rendered. I thought of Pat.

In the early 1960's, Maschmann addressed the question of "how was it possible for so many apparently normal people to be led into a state of mind in which they could commit these crimes without thinking that they were doing wrong? how could they condone them; or turn a blind eye to what was being done - often under their very noses?"  Maschmann tried to explain it, in her case, "change a simple, pleasant young German girl into a dedicated Nazi, without feelings and without pity".

Her story is interesting; the larger context is fascinating. I think I understand Pat a little bit better. I hope that she made peace with herself.

Check it out on MEL

Donna O., Reference

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