Brunhilde Pomsel, a former secretary of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, has died. She was 106.
Pomsel lived most of her life in relative obscurity until a German newspaper published an interview with her in 2011, prompting a flurry of interest in one of the last surviving members of the Nazi leadership’s inner circle.
Her death was confirmed Sunday to The Associated Press by Christian Kroenes, a director and producer of the film “A German Life .”
The documentary, compiled from over 30 hours of conversation with Pomsel, was released at last year’s Munich Film Festival. The film shows her talking candidly, and at times chillingly, about her relationship with Goebbels, Adolf Hitler and other key figures of the Nazi regime, her role as personal aide to the minister of propaganda, and the grim last days she spent in the infamous Führerbunker.
Shortly after the film was released, she gave an interview to the UK’s the Guardian, explaining why she decided to tell her story now, after decades of silence.
“In the little time that’s left to me – and I hope it will be months rather than years – I just cling to the hope that the world doesn’t turn upside down again as it did then, though there have been some ghastly developments, haven’t there? I’m relieved I never had any children that I have to worry about,” she said.
“It is absolutely not about clearing my conscience,” she added.
Pomsel expressed some sense of guilt but was unrepentant about the decisions that brought her to the very center of Nazi power.
“Those people nowadays who say they would have stood up against the Nazis – I believe they are sincere in meaning that, but believe me, most of them wouldn’t have,” she said. “The whole country was as if under a kind of a spell… I could open myself up to the accusations that I wasn’t interested in politics but the truth is, the idealism of youth might easily have led to you having your neck broken.”
As Goebbel’s secretary, Pomel’s tasks included “massaging downwards statistics about fallen soldiers, as well as exaggerating the number of rapes of German women by the Red Army,” according to the Guardian. She maintains, however, that despite her proximity to Goebbels, himself considered one of Hitler’s closest confidants, she was not privy to the horrors perpetrated by her bosses.
“I know no one ever believes us nowadays – everyone thinks we knew everything,” she said. “We knew nothing, it was all kept well secret.”
Kroenes said Pomsel had been lucid when he last spoke to her on her birthday on January 11. He said she died in her sleep at her Munich home Friday.
Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.