December 22, 2012 – “What I am about to tell you is something you’ve probably never heard or read in history books,” she likes to tell audiences.
“I am a witness to history.
“I cannot tell you that Hitler took Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history.
If you remember the plot of the Sound of Music, the Von Trapp family escaped over the Alps rather than submit to the Nazis. Kitty wasn’t so lucky. Her family chose to stay in her native Austria. She was 10 years old, but bright and aware. And she was watching.
“We elected him by a landslide – 98 percent of the vote,” she recalls.
She wasn’t old enough to vote in 1938 – approaching her 11th birthday. But she remembers.
“Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in with his tanks and took Austria by force.”
Hitler is welcomed to Austria
“In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25 percent inflation and 25 percent bank loan interest rates.
Farmers and business people were declaring bankruptcy daily. Young people were going from house to house begging for food. Not that they didn’t want to work; there simply weren’t any jobs.
“My mother was a Christian woman and believed in helping people in need. Every day we cooked a big kettle of soup and baked bread to feed those poor, hungry people – about 30 daily.’
“We looked to our neighbor on the north, Germany, where Hitler had been in power since 1933.” she recalls. “We had been told that they didn’t have unemployment or crime, and they had a high standard of living.
Austrian girls welcome Hitler
“Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group – Jewish or otherwise. We were led to believe that everyone in Germany was happy. We wanted the same way of life in Austria. We were promised that a vote for Hitler would mean the end of unemployment and help for the family. Hitler also said that businesses would be assisted, and farmers would get their farms back.
“Ninety-eight percent of the population voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler.
“We were overjoyed,” remembers Kitty, “and for three days we danced in the streets and had candlelight parades. The new government opened up big field kitchens and everyone was fed.
“After the election, German officials were appointed, and like a miracle, we suddenly had law and order. Three or four weeks later, everyone was employed. The government made sure that a lot of work was created through the Public Work Service.
“Hitler decided we should have equal rights for women. Before this, it was a custom that married Austrian women did not work outside the home. An able-bodied husband would be looked down on if he couldn’t support his family. Many women in the teaching profession were elated that they could retain the jobs they previously had been required to give up for marriage.
“Then we lost religious education for kids
Poster promoting “Hitler Youth”
“Our education was nationalized. I attended a very good public school.. The population was predominantly Catholic, so we had religion in our schools. The day we elected Hitler (March 13, 1938), I walked into my schoolroom to find the crucifix replaced by Hitler’s picture hanging next to a Nazi flag. Our teacher, a very devout woman, stood up and told the class we wouldn’t pray or have religion anymore. Instead, we sang ‘Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles,’ and had physical education.
“Sunday became National Youth Day with compulsory attendance. Parents were not pleased about the sudden change in curriculum. They were told that if they did not send us, they would receive a stiff letter of warning the first time. The second time they would be fined the equivalent of $300, and the third time they would be subject to jail.”
And then things got worse.
“The first two hours consisted of political indoctrination. The rest of the day we had sports. As time went along, we loved it. Oh, we had so much fun and got our sports equipment free.
“We would go home and gleefully tell our parents about the wonderful time we had.
“My mother was very unhappy,” remembers Kitty. “When the next term started, she took me out of public school and put me in a convent. I told her she couldn’t do that and she told me that someday when I grew up, I would be grateful. There was a very good curriculum, but hardly any fun – no sports, and no political indoctrination.
“I hated it at first but felt I could tolerate it. Every once in a while, on holidays, I went home. I would go back to my old friends and ask what was going on and what they were doing.
A pro-Hitler rally
“Their loose lifestyle was very alarming to me. They lived without religion. By that time, unwed mothers were glorified for having a baby for Hitler.
“It seemed strange to me that our society changed so suddenly. As time went along, I realized what a great deed my mother did so that I wasn’t exposed to that kind of humanistic philosophy.
“In 1939, the war started and a food bank was established. All food was rationed and could only be purchased using food stamps. At the same time, a full-employment law was passed which meant if you didn’t work, you didn’t get a ration card, and if you didn’t have a card, you starved to death.
“Women who stayed home to raise their families didn’t have any marketable skills and often had to take jobs more suited for men.
“Soon after this, the draft was implemented.
Os Guinness in his discourse “Addressing the Question of Evil In An Age of Genocide and Terror” dialogues on the questions of evil: “Where on earth does evil come from? How are we to understand evil?” Guinness asks us to consider the possibility of magnifying evil in modern times:
“The dreadful evil of the Final Solution was not carried out by monsters. Hitler was a monster. Goring was a monster. Goebbels… They were monstrous. They didn’t carry any of it out. It was carried out by millions, and millions and millions of “good ordinary people.”
“You could see how in a world of bureaucracy with division of labor and diffusion of responsibility and a distancing,.. people don’t actually see the effects of the decisions they make. You can see how a modern world and its procedures and its way of doing things has made possible evil on a scale the world never imagined. (paraphrased)
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.- Edmund Burke
Thomas Sowell calls “childish” and “fatuous” the positions taken on “torture,” inorder to appear to be morally one-up on the other side. Regardless of what they say, these people would actually act quite differently if their butts were at stake. According to Sowell:
There is a big difference between being ponderous and being serious. It is scary when the President of the United States is not being serious about matters of life and death, saying that there are “other ways” of getting information from terrorists.
Maybe this is a step up from the previous talking point that “torture” had not gotten any important information out of terrorists. Only after this had been shown to be a flat-out lie did Barack Obama shift his rhetoric to the lame assertion that unspecified “other ways” could have been used.
For a man whose whole life has been based on style rather than substance, on rhetoric rather than reality, perhaps nothing better could have been expected. But that the media and the public would have become so mesmerized by the Obama cult that they could not see through this to think of their own survival, or that of this nation, is truly a chilling thought.
When we look back at history, it is amazing what foolish and even childish things people said and did on the eve of a catastrophe about to consume them. In 1938, with Hitler preparing to unleash a war in which tens of millions of men, women and children would be slaughtered, the play that was the biggest hit on the Paris stage was a play about French and German reconciliation, and a French pacifist that year dedicated his book to Adolf Hitler.
If we could fight and win wars with words, our writers and poets would man the front lines with notepads and computers, however flesh and blood heroes are still our first defense and President’s are still compelled to command soldiers and protect citizen with more than words and lofty thoughts.
Thomas Sowell like Obama speaks of Winston Churchill. Sowell notes that the reason Churchill didn’t torture prisioners of war while bombs were falling on London was that these men were ordinary soldiers captured in war and covered by the Geneva convention. They also didn’t know anything that would have kept London from being bombed. Terrorists with life-saving information is another category entirely. Sowell concludes:
The left has long confused physical parallels with moral parallels. But when a criminal shoots at a policeman and the policeman shoots back, physical equivalence is not moral equivalence. And what American intelligence agents have done to captured terrorists is not even physical equivalence.
If we have reached the point where we cannot be bothered to think beyond rhetoric or to make moral distinctions, then we have reached the point where our own survival in an increasingly dangerous world of nuclear proliferation can no longer be taken for granted.