Nazi propaganda minister Josef Goebbels' secretary dies at 106

Brunhilde Pomsel, a former secretary of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, has died. She was 106.

Brunhilde Pomsel was one of the last people to have known the Nazi leaderships inner circle. Picture: AP
Brunhilde Pomsel was one of the last people to have known the Nazi leaderships inner circle. Picture: AP

Ms 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 people who had access to the Nazi leadership’s inner circle.

Her death was confirmed on Sunday by Christian Kroenes, a director and producer of the film A German Life.

In the documentary, which was released last year, she said she felt no guilt – “unless you end up blaming the entire German population”. She also said she had known nothing of the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust.

Born in January 1911, Ms Pomsel worked as a writer for a Jewish insurance broker for a number of years during her late teenage years, before taking a similar job with a right-wing writer.

Although she claimed she had always been apolitical, she joined the Nazi party when they took power in 1933, in order to take a government job with German national radio.

Her skill as a typist, she said, brought her to the role of Joseph Goebbels’ secretary in 1942, during the war, when he was minister of “public enlightenment and propaganda”.

She described Goebbels as a vain man, whose hate-filled public speeches were difficult to reconcile with what she said was his considerable charm when not in the spotlight.

“The people who today say they would have done more for those poor, persecuted Jews. I really believe they sincerely mean it,” she said in interviews for A German Life. “But they wouldn’t have done it either.”

But she always maintained that she did not share in the blame for the actions of her superiors.

Her Jewish friend, Eva Lowenthal, disappeared in November 1943. Sixty years later, Ms Pomsel discovered she had died in Auschwitz.

Ms Pomsel was captured by Soviet troops at the end of World War Two – and spent the following five years in detention camps, before rejoining German broadcasting in 1950, where she worked for the next 20 years.

Mr Kroenes said Ms Pomsel had been lucid when he last spoke to her on her birthday on 11 January.

“What she recounted in the film is a warning to the current and future generations,” he said.

He says she died at her Munich home on Friday. Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.