Account Rendered

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About the author:
Born in Berlin, Melita Maschmann (1918-2010) attended boarding school in Thuringia. She joined the BDM (Bund Deutscher Mädel, the Girls' Section of the Hitler Youth) secretly in 1933 against the wishes of her parents who were conservative and nationalist, but not national-socialist. She worked for the Labor Service in East Prussia (1936-37), then as a journalist for the press section of the BDM (1937-41) in Frankfurt-an-der-Oder and in the Wartheland (German-occupied Poland). She was in charge of women's Labor Service camps in Poland and Germany (1941-43) and responsible for the BDM's press and propaganda division in Berlin (1943-45). She did war work, including preparation for "Werewolf" (S.S. sabotage) activities (1945) before the US Army captured her in Austria in July 1945 with a clandestine group manufacturing false documents for "comrades". She was interned in the "Frauenlager 77" (internment camp for women) near Ludwigsburg, and later in Darmstadt until 1948. Denazification authorities considered her a "follower" ("indoctrinated" and too young to be fully responsible); Maschmann finally broke with National Socialism only in the 1950s.

After her release, Maschmann wrote for the Darmstädter Echo and the Frankfurter Rundschau. She travelled to Afghanistan and India in 1962-63 and moved permanently to India shortly thereafter, becoming a follower of Guru Sri Anandamayi Ma. In India, Maschmann lived mainly in her ashrams, and after Sri Anandamayi Ma's death in 1982, worked in institutions for children. She returned to Darmstadt in 1998 due to Alzheimer's disease and died in a retirement home. She was never married and had no children.

Account Rendered was first published in 1963 as Fazit: Kein Rechtfertigungsversuch (No attempt at justification), translated into several languages, and republished seven times in Germany where it became a required high school text. Maschmann also wrote fiction (Die Aschenspur, Der Dreizehnte, Das Wort Hiess Liebe) and books about Sri Anandamayi Ma and India (Der Tiger singt Kirtana, Indiras Schwestern, Eine ganz gewöhnliche Heilige).

Account Rendered

A Dossier on my Former Self

Authored by Melita Maschmann
Afterword by Marianne Schweitzer Burkenroad
Introduction by Helen Epstein
Translated by Geoffrey Strachan

Account Rendered was first published in Germany in 1963 as Fazit: Kein Rechtfertigungsversuch or Account Rendered: No attempt at justification. Maschmann wrote to Hannah Arendt that her intent in writing this memoir was to help her former Nazi colleagues think about their actions, and to help others “better understand” why people like her had been drawn to Hitler. Written as a letter to an unnamed Jewish girl, this memoir details the trajectory of a socially-conscious, well-educated, middle-class girl as she joins the Hitler Youth, supervises the eviction of Polish farmers from their land and works in the high echelons of Nazi press and propaganda. Arrested in 1945 at the age of 33, Maschmann completed mandatory de-Nazification and became a freelance journalist. This edition includes a new introduction explaining how the Publishers identified Maschmann’s high school Jewish friend, Marianne Schweitzer Burkenroad, born in 1918 and located her in California. In an afterword, she recounts for the first time her friendship with Maschmann and her reactions to Account Rendered.

“[Account Rendered is an] important document of its time [...] I have the impression that you are totally sincere, otherwise I wouldn’t have written back to you.” — letter from Hannah Arendt to Melita Maschmann

“[A] soul-searching record in which [Melita Maschmann] attempts to state and understand her guilt as a Nazi... her account here is intelligent and convincing.” — Kirkus Reviews

“There weren’t a lot of books by former Nazis in the Sixties. I found in [Account Rendered] someone who had been overtaken by history, was struggling to make sense of what no longer made sense, and to understand why it had once done so. In other books, the Jews were an abstraction. For Maschmann, the Jews were neighbors and friends, which complicated the process of dehumanization that she participated in. The memoir seemed believable and honest in ways that other testimonies from the defeated did not.” — Arthur Samuelson, former Editor-in-Chief, Schocken Books

“Melita Maschmann’s candid [book], sub-titled ‘No attempt at justification,’ is a valuable study of the political seduction of youthful zeal” — Der Spiegel

Publication Date:
0961469641 / 9780961469641
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
5.25" x 8"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Fascism & Totalitarianism

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