Even though writing occupies much of each of my days, I also read a lot – averaging one or two books a week.
Recently I bought a paperback edition of a book entitled: On Hitler’s Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood by Irmgard A. Hunt.
Ms. Hunt, a self-identified political liberal and pacifist, is a former executive of various U.S. and international environmental organizations, who currently resides in Washington, D.C. Now a U.S. citizen, she was born in 1934 in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, where Adolf Hitler set up his headquarters and his mountain retreat, the Eagle’s Nest.
In fact, in one of her most compelling stories, at the age of three, Hunt recalls sitting in Hitler’s lap during a 1941 village visit, “suspiciously studying his mustache, his slicked-back, oily hair… while at the same time acutely seeing the importance of the moment.” Her father was one of the first German soldiers drafted and one of the first to die. Hunt was only 11 when the war ended, but her “eyewitness” account does provide much personal insight into life under the Nazis.
Another German Lady Remembers
Last month I met an 83-year-old American lady and her husband, a veteran of World War II, both from Nevada. Because she spoke English with a German accent, we got to talking and I soon learned that at an early age she had been sent to the Sudetenland to a Hitler Youth Camp for girls.
When the war ended, in the mass confusion she had literally been turned loose from the camp, and with other girls, she became a refugee walking hundreds of miles in an effort to find her family. She recalled sleeping in the woods, starvation and scavenging garbage from the trash of American GIs, one of whom hit her in the back with a rifle butt, an injury from which she still suffers today. She eventually found her mother.
With all this in her past, this elderly lady is a proud American who loves her adopted country. When we discussed Hunt’s book about her childhood in Nazi German, I asked whether she thought that something akin to the Nazis and Hitler could happen in America. Without any hesitation she replied: “Of course it could; it is what I fear most about America today.”
Could It Happen in America?
Imgard Hunt also addressed this very question in her book when she was asked: “Could a Hitler happen here in America? If you think so what would be the circumstances? Are there aspects of life in the United States that would prevent a Hitler from rising here?”
Here is her disturbing response, and something to consider in the context of American politics:
“I thought a great deal about that while I wrote my book.