BLIND SPOT is an oral history released as a feature documentary. Ordinarily, this would be a bad idea, oral histories being low-tech and single camera, but the subject is Traudl Junge and her history is of her years as Hitlers secretary. Filmmakers Andre Heller and Othmar Schmiderer must have known they were on to something from the first, hence their decision to eschew such traditional documentary moves as inserting archival photos and film clips, a few intertitles suffice to give context. Beyond that, the camera never leaves Junges face, framed in semi-close-up as she relives in three separate interviews the most remarkable years of her life.
There is a freshness to Junges telling, perhaps because this is the first time shes been interviewed. After the war, astonishingly, no one was interested and as the years passed and interest eventually grew, she declined all requests in an attempt to keep the past at bay. Though elegantly dressed and coiffed, radiating an air of confidence, there is also a furtive look in her eyes, as though she still cant quite process that the man she worked for and found so charming was a mass murderer on a monumental scale. Sometimes, she is shown watching a previous interview, and the expression on her face is inscrutable, sad, resigned, relieved. Her animation while talking, vibrant for a woman in her 80s, substitutes for any cinematic pretensions. She begins with the odd chain of events that led a frustrated ballet dancer with a talent for typing to be Hitler’s secretary. Interspersed among the stories of Hitlers daily life is the question she asks again and again, as much of herself as of her interviewers and of us, How could I have known what was really going on? Her work, she says, was limited to non-military correspondence and taking turns with the other three secretaries to have meals with Der Fuhrer, who preferred to dine without talking shop with his generals.
There are morbidly fascinating tidbits here. She only remembers hearing the word Jew once in all her time with Hitler. A woman who mentioned in passing that she thought it was a shame the way some people were being treated was never invited back to the Wolfs Lair. As for Hitler himself, she recalls that he didnt like to be touched, and that she had the feeling that despite his obsession for flawless beauty and keeping mistress Eva Braun with him at all times, he didnt have, what Junge terms an erotic impulse. It would have meant, she opines, losing control, which he would never have done.
The most compelling moments are the ones where Junge recounts the final days in the bunker as Berlin and the Third Reich fell around Hitlers ears. Her knack for detail is precise and illuminating, making the lack of photos seem unimportant and showing, I think, someone who has relived these experiences over and over in her mind. The irony of her life can perhaps be summed up in the way she remembers Hitler saying goodbye before committing suicide. He leaned close for a private word, but she couldnt quite hear what he said. Can you imagine, she says, his final words to me and I couldnt understand them? Its a tidy metaphor for those years as a whole, the ones that she cant understand, but which loomed so large for her until her death in 2001.