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Homefront: Daily life during World War II

WW2 Homefront: Daily life during World War II.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: Historical Tours, HitlerJugend: Hitler Youth, Women during World War II, Reenactment: Living History, WW2-era Footage, WWII Stamps, Women in Third Reich.

Nazi bride schools trained girls to be perfect wives for SS men in the Third Reich
A set of rules for would-be wives of Nazis in the Third Reich has been discovered. Regulations dictated that young women would be taught ‘washing, cooking, childcare and home design` before they could walk up the aisle with the men who would rule conquered lands with an iron fist. They were also instructed in social niceties and how to bring up their children worshipping Hitler. "This is participation in the resurrection path of our people," said Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, chief of the Nazi bride schools. Along with the rulebook found in the Federal Archive were certificates adorned with the Germanic ‘Tree of Life` which were presented to young girls who passed the 6-week course to marry their sweethearts in the SS.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Jewish Edger Feuchtwanger releasing a book about his time as a child living on the same Munich street as Adolf Hitler
A Jewish neighbor of Adolf Hitler in Munich has co-authored a book describing his childhood brushes with the dictator. Edgar Feuchtwanger, 88, has joined forces with French journalist Bertil Scali to write "Hitler, mon voisin, souvenirs d`un enfant juif," (My Neighbor Hitler: memories of a Jewish child). The 320-page book is due out in French bookstores on Jan. 10, from Michel Lafon Publishing in Neuilly-sur-Seine. The book`s jumping off point is the fact that Feuchtwanger and his family lived across the street from Prinzregentenplatz 16, Hitler`s main residence from 1929 to 1933.
(forward.com)

Kitty Werthmann reflects on life under Nazis: Hitler talked like an American politician
Adolf Hitler did not conquer Austria with bullets and bombs. He took it by ballot. Kitty Werthmann was 12 years old when voters Austria elected Hitler as their leader by 98% of the vote: "You probably think it`s crazy, the Austrian people electing Hitler. How could a Christian nation elect such as monster? Farmers were going broke, the banks had reclaimed their farms. In the business world, they were closing up one by one. Hitler didn`t talk like a monster, he talked like an American politician. We didn`t hear anything bad."
(nptelegraph.com)

Edgar Feuchtwanger: When Hitler was my neighbour
As a child, I lived across the road from Adolf Hitler. I was born in Munich in 1924. My uncle, Lion Feuchtwanger, was the author of Jew Süss, a bestseller published in 1925. In 1930, he published Erfolg, a view of Munich when the Nazis first made their appearance. That same year, Hitler moved from his modest flat in central Munich to a more expensive one opposite where my parents lived. That was 80 years ago. My problem since has been to keep apart what I saw as a child from what is now known. Here was Hitler, the centre of it all, but through my childish eyes, most of what I saw was part of everyday life and could make him seem almost normal, human.
(thejc.com)

Annaliese Roegner recalls growing up in Nazi Germany: Swastika flags and tanks rolling through streets
A black and white photo of houses with Nazi flags flying from nearly every rooftop is one of the few physical reminders that Annaliese Roegner has growing up in the Third Reich. In that photo, there are also several flags flying that represented a different political party. "Those flags went up within three or four months of Hitler taking power. Then, after another three or four more months, you didn`t see any more flags, except the ones for Hitler. When you heard Hitler`s first speeches, they were positive. He promised every body work. We were just coming out of the Depression. The ideas were good, but how they were carried out were not."
(independentmail.com)

Diary kept by small-town official Friedrich Kellner shows Germans could have known of Nazi horrors
Newly published diaries by a Nazi-era court official document details that others conveniently ignored. While many Germans would later claim they knew nothing of Nazi crimes, Friedrich Kellner`s observations show that such information was available.
(spiegel.de)

Surviving Hitler`s War: Family Life in Germany, 1939-48 by Hester Vaizey
18 million German men left their families from 1939 to serve in the armed forces. 5 million never came back and 11 million were held in POW camps after 1945. Forced to be self-reliant, did German wives enjoy opportunity to claim, then build on, a new sense of empowerment? Hester Vaizey will have none of it. She argues that because conditions were so extremely burdensome for the wives, one way of keeping their strength up was to dream of one day giving up every one of the new responsibilities they had been forced to take on.
(independent.co.uk)

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler`s Berlin by Erik Larson (plus Excerpt)
In "In the Garden of Beasts" author Erik Larson chronicles William Dodd`s time in Nazi Germany. It`s a portrait of the man who served for four years as the ambassador to the Third Reich before resigning - after repeatedly clashing with Nazi Party officials and the State Department. When Hitler became the chancellor of Germany in 1933 many diplomats in the U.S. State Department assumed he wouldn`t be in office for very long.

"It was a commonly held opinion, especially among the U.S. diplomats operating in Berlin and certainly the British ambassador to Germany also felt that way. Hitler was such an anomalous character - he was so over-the-top chaotic in his approach to statesmanship, his manner and in the violence which overwhelmed the country initially. I think diplomats around the world ... felt like something like that simply would not be tolerated by the people of Germany."
(npr.org)

Two German brothers: One in concentration camp and other, a Hitler Youth member
Kurt Wagner was born in 1931 in Germany, the son of a Jewish mother and a Christian father. Wagner never knew his father, who joined the Nazi Party and became a member of the SA brownshirts. His parents separated, and as a result Wagner went to live with his mother, while an older brother, Heinz, was raised by his father`s parents. In the process, these two brothers would see the alternative realities of life in the Third Reich: Wagner and his mother`s family was sent to a concentration camp and eventual death - all except for Wagner who would find safe passage from the camp to the U.S. - while Heinz would join the Hitler Youth, survive the war and raise a family in Germany.
(suntimes.com)

"Wolfram: The Boy Who Went to War" explores the impact the Nazi regime had on German society
When we think about victims of Hitler`s regime in the Third Reich we often neglect ordinary German people, many of whom did not support the Nazi Party. In 1936 the Führer declared Hitler Youth an official educational institution in which all German boys must participate, including free-spirited Wolfram Aïchele. "Wolfram: The Boy Who Went to War" depicts the impact of the Nazi regime on his town and family: attacks on Jewish citizens, the closure of the local freemasonry lodge, the banning of Rudolf Steiner`s anthroposophical movement (to which his mother had belonged), and the book burning in the town centre - revealing the speed with which Nazism overwhelmed the town.
(irishtimes.com)

Marketing Holocaust and anti-semitism to Children in Nazi Germany
The full-scale Nazi campaign against the Jews began with the creation of Josef Goebbels` Ministry of Propaganda in 1933. School children were bombarded with anti-Semitic mass media. A teacher`s guide, Heredity and Racial Science for Elementary and Secondary Schools, stated that: "The genetic, physical, and spiritual characteristics of the Jew are so foreign and different to us that any association with a Jew must be rejected...[especially] by the smallest, simplest child."
(suite101.com)

Berlin at War: Life and Death in Hitler`s Capital 1939-1945 by Roger Moorhouse
"Berlin at War" provides a detailed account of daily life in the Nazi capital 1939-1945. Using unpublished memoirs and interviews Moorhouse builds a picture of hardship and despair in the nerve centre of the Third Reich, where few were brave or insane enough to resist the Führer. As the Nazis began to lose the war and starvation set in, the black market flourished. Under the cover of blackouts, rapes and murder were routine, and gangs looted government food supplies. Meanwhile Hitler Youth threw themselves into the last-ditch defence of Berlin against the Red Army, while some were mobilised into the Volkssturm (People`s Army).
(telegraph.co.uk)

Richard Mayhew-Smith: My childhood in the Third Reich (Part II)
Richard Mayhew-Smith tells of the last days of the war, his reunion with his father and his adjustment to life in England after his English-German family was divided by World War II. At my German home in a small town near Frankfurt, I was allowed to play in the garden, exploring the bombed houses all around us. The big thing was to look for bicycle tubes made of rubber - material for making little tanks. I thought maybe I could sell some of these small rolling machines, hoping to make a little money and feed us. One day, I found some mushrooms. After eating one I took some in to my mother to share the bounty. Panic. Mother rushing me to hospital...
(londoninformer.co.uk)

Album of the Damned: Snapshots of the Third Reich by Paul Garson - Book review
At first sight, the snapshots seem ordinary: a baby in a carriage, a man reading at the table, two women smiling for the camera. But these dog-eared photos capture everyday life in Nazi Germany. In "Album of the Damned: Snapshots of the Third Reich," pieced by photographer Paul Garson, the baby is wearing his father`s Nazi cap, the man is reading Adolf Hitler`s Mein Kampf and the women are in full military uniforms. Garson collected 400 photos, most never seen before, from private collections of old photo albums he bought through online auctions, capturing life on the home front of the Third Reich. Garson`s 5-year undertaking cost him $25,000.
(cjp.org)

Book review: Life and Death in the Third Reich by Peter Fritzsche
"Life and Death in the Third Reich" depicts such a nuanced and well researched portrait of German National Socialism that in the end it`s not enough to call the Nazis architects of death. The political wave they rode in on was something of a phenomenon. The key question is the extent to which Germans allowed the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust and whether they deserve some blame. So, what did everyday Germans know? They knew of the mass segregation and deportation of Jews - but Germans saw that not as a program, but instead in the context of war`s brutality - as inevitable frontline fatalities alongside the German soldiers who were also dying by the thousands.
(popmatters.com)

Traute Grier`s account of post-war Berlin: How Russian soldiers violated women and girls
When the bombs rained down on Berlin on April 28, 1945, my mother and I hid in the bunker in Hermannsplatz. "What on earth will happen next? What if the Russians come, those beastly... people?" I wondered shaking with fear. Suddenly, a pipe burst and the bunker filled with water. And then we ran: from house to house, fleeing the Russian Katyusha rockets. And then the Soviet soldiers came. Filled with hatred, they took whatever they wanted. In our house a woman and her daughter were violated repeatedly. This sort of thing took place quite often. In August 1945 the Western Allies moved into Berlin and the city was divided up. Luckily, we lived in the American sector.
(spiegel.de)

My Father`s Country by Wibke Bruhns
In the prologue, Wibke Bruhns depicts how Adolf Hitler ordered the execution of her father, an SS officer, on Aug. 26, 1944. A month earlier, a group of German officers had tried to blow Hitler up in a bid for a peace with the Allies. Had it not been for a thick table leg in the Wolf`s Lair, German history would have been very different. Bruhns`s father, Hans Georg Klamroth, was one of the conspirators and hanged. Bruhns doesn`t sugarcoat the story: Both her mother and father joined the Nazi Party early on, and she presents the anti-Semitism of her country and her family without evasion.
(montrealgazette)

The Forger - A story of survival in wartime Berlin by Cioma Schönhaus
In June 1942 Cioma Schönhaus stood in front of a Nazi bureaucrat in Berlin for final processing before being sent to a concentration camp. Asked if he had any money, he answered: "Yes, my lucky penny." The penny went into the coffers of the Third Reich, duly noted in an account book. "No further mention of luck," Schönhaus recalls in "The Forger," his account of life on the run in wartime Berlin. Even without the penny, luck stayed with him: A last-minute postponement saved him from the trains. Later, as a skilled worker at a munitions factory, he was viewed as essential to the war effort.
(nytimes)

German schoolgirl`s wartime diaries: Bombing raids on Hamburg, evacuation
Bombing raids on Hamburg, evacuation to the countryside and the dangerous journey home are all recorded in a German schoolgirl`s WW2 diaries. The "battered, chintz-covered little book" belonged to Geseke Clark`s elder sister Hilke and might have stayed an unread heirloom if Geseke had not translated it. The diary also gives a glimpse of how effectively the children were brainwashed. Even at the end of the war, Hilke was still in awe of Adolf Hitler. "She had been at a school where the teachers were all Nazis. She was definitely indoctrinated, although not by our parents."
(warwickcourier)

A child of Hitler: Growing up in the Third Reich - Blood and Honor
In Nazi Germany childhood ended at the age of 10, with admission to the Jungvolk, the junior branch of the Hitler Youth. From that time on we children became the political soldiers of the Third Reich. On April 20, 1938, Hitler’s 49th birthday, I joined the Jungvolk. I could hardly wait to give my oath of eternal loyalty to the Führer and get the dagger with "Blut und Ehre" (Blood and honor) engraved on it. Even more exciting, I was one of two 10-year-olds who would represent our district Jungvolk at the Nuremberg Party Congress. ... The Panzer officer who inspected our Hitler Youth formation was a Colonel Erwin Rommel; 5 years later he would be a field marshal.
(thephoenix.com)

During WWII German children collected Hitler cards - Now auctioned
During the 1930s, British children collected cards of their sporting heroes. But over in Nazi Germany, kids were gluing pictures of less innocent figures into their prized albums. One collection focused on Adolf Hitler, with its 204 cards recording the dictator`s rise to power and pics of the Führer in uniform with his Nazi henchmen, like Rudolf Hess and Joseph Goebbels. The 133-page book, published in 1935, is one of a rare set of 3 made by the Nazis and now being auctioned. The others are a 151-page history of the Nazi party (204 collectors` cards, 1933), and a 97-page history of Germany in the post-First World War era (`Die Nachkriegszeit`, 252 cards, 1935).
(dailymail.co.uk)

German writer, nazi-era chronicler Walter Kempowski dies at 78
Walter Kempowski, who chronicled Germany`s post-WWII identity through autobiographical novels and a collage technique died at 78. He gained fame with 9-volume German Chronicle (1971-1984), an account of growing up in Nazi Germany and subsequent imprisonment in a camp in communist East Germany. Echolot (1993) is a collage of journals, letters and newspaper clips that describes life during World War II. He was born in Rostock on April 29, 1929, and was recruited as a youth into the German military under Adolf Hitler. In 1948, he was convicted by a Soviet military tribunal for espionage and sentenced to forced labor.
(bloomberg)

Tainted Blood? - Author Reveals Hardship of life in Nazi Germany   (Article no longer available from the original source)
What life was like in Nazi Germany: In her memoir "Tainted Blood?: Memoirs of a Part-Jewish Girl in the Third Reich 1933-1945" Margaret Baacke ("Gretel") recollects the trying times between the German hyper-inflation in 1923 and the end of WWII in 1945. Gretel and her brother Hans entered the Hitler Youth in 1936, but being 2nd degree Jewish Mischlinge both were expelled after 2 years. Hans was later drafted into the Wehrmacht. After one mandatory year in the Reich`s Labor and War Auxiliary Service, Gretel became a doctor`s assistant in a Luftwaffe hospital in East Prussia.
(ereleases)

WWII diaries of a young German girl: 1944-1945 an idyllic time in Bavaria   (Article no longer available from the original source)
World War II diaries of young German girl Elsbeth Zambas have been rediscovered by their author more than 60 years after the conflict ended. In 1944, she was an 11yo evacuee forced to flee Castrop-Rauxel as Allied bombs pounded the collieries there that fed the Nazi war effort. Her family`s proximity to danger was illustrated in 1943, when the basement of their home was waterlogged after the Dambusters` raid holed four damns and flooded the Ruhr valley. 1944-1945 diaries record an idyllic time spent away from this in Bavaria. The war which gripped the globe seemed far away. She looks back on her evacuee years as some of the happiest of her life.
(enfieldindependent)

Third Reich Life: Hitler-Era Vacationland - Posters from before WWII
Posters give an eerie glimpse of life in Fascist Germany before WWII. Baltic seaside idyll of a 1941 brochure: A beach with wicker chairs, tourists relaxing in the sun. A swastika flutters over everything, on a flagpole. Another brochure has a photo of Germans exercising in rows on the beach. The North Sea island of Sylt 1937: "Beach games and athletic activities of all kinds - in particular the old Teutonic art of archery - will reawaken your joy of living." Thousands of Germans managed under Nazism to afford their first vacations - by Kraft durch Freude ("Strength Through Joy") organization. Foreign tourism increased in Nazi Germany until the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom.
(spiegel)

Book: End of the Rope - How it all began in Nazi Germany
Uri Ben Ari, an armored corps commander, returns to his childhood in Berlin and paints in vivid colors the period between Adolf Hitler`s rise to power in 1933 and the outbreak of World War II. He describes the vicious process by which the Nazis pushed the Jews from their status as respected citizens into alienated individuals. At the time, some people thought that what was happening in Nazi Germany was only a passing phase, a temporary disruption of the order of things, a bad dream that would vanish. Why did more Jews not leave Germany - until 1941 they could leave, and with the Nazis` encouragement.
(haaretz)

The Hitler she knew - She grew up in 1930s and ‘40s Nazi Germany   (Article no longer available from the original source)
"Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!" Everyone was excited about him, celebrated when he came near, cried out to him in joy. His name was Adolf Hitler. And Thea Johnson loved him. She grew up in 1930s and ‘40s Nazi Germany and was swept up in the world of Nazism. To her, it was wonderful. For a while - then came war. Today, she and her husband, U.S. veteran, live in Wysox. Outside stands a U.S. flag. She`s written a book to show people "how it was on the other side for a young girl to go through a war." At age 10 she joined the Hitler Youth. "We worshipped him... His frequent speeches never ceased to inspire me. The war would soon end in certain victory."
(thedailyreview)

Axis soldiers, as PoWs, harvested Minnesota fields   (Article no longer available from the original source)
O.J. Odegard was the first in Minnesota to request the help of Axis prisoners of war when he asked for 100 captured Italians on July 23, 1943. There was a serious labor shortage because of WWII. Odegard paid the going rate for farmhands, $3 per day, but the Italians got only 80 cents a day after the government took its share. By 1945 there were 21 camps in Minnesota holding more than 3,000 POWs, most of them from Nazi Germany. There is a book on this topic: "Swords Into Plowshares: Minnesota`s POW Camps During World War II" by Dean Simmons.
(startribune)

Touring Third Reich in 1938 and seeing the man himself
"It was the 29th of August, 1938. I had been touring Europe with a friend, and we were in Freiburg im Breisgau. So we sat down in the beer garden. Moments later, a big open-topped Mercedes fishtailed to a stop near us. Top brass in Wehrmacht uniforms stepped down and had the SS arrange everyone on the street in a row. Blackshirted men stood at six-foot intervals beside our hedge watching the citizenry, hands on pistols. Everyone was aware that some big shot was coming, but we did not expect the man himself. Then Hitler came through, fanning his signature sloppy salute to the crowd. In preparation for the coming war he was inspecting the Rhine fortifications."
(hnn.us)

WWII Diaries - New Book by Reveals War`s Daily Impact
Based on diaries kept by the author Irene Zarina White, Fire Burn tells in vivid detail the events that happened in Latvia and Nazi Germany between September 1939 and May 1946. Just two days after her graduation from the University the Soviet Union invaded her country, inflicting chaos and destruction. Irene and her mother "escaped" to Germany where they survived four terrifying years of Nazi oppression, injustice, bombing, and hunger. Within a 6-year span they lived under 4 different governments: the Republic of Latvia, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and the American Occupation.
(newsblaze.com)

Woman recounts life in Hitler`s Nazi Germany   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Kristallnacht shattered what had been a near idyllic childhood for German-born Maria Jackson. "We got up the next morning and saw people going from shop to shop looting the stores. We were amazed that so much damage could happen over night. And from that day on, the Jews had to wear the yellow Star of David on their sleeves." Later Virtually everything became rationed - food, clothes, gasoline. Membership in the Hitler Youth was mandatory. There was an initial sense of security throughout the country largely because of the Siegfried Line, an almost 400-mile link of fortifications, bunkers and tank traps running along western border.
(macon)

Letters Offer Glimpse of Life in Nazi Labor Camps
The New York Public Library opened an exhibit of 300 Holocaust-era letters saved by Sala Garncarz, a Jewish woman who spent 5 years in the labor camps. Garncarz was interned in 7 different Nazi labor camps between 1940 and 1945. Although conditions at labor camps were often harsh laborers could sometimes receive mail. Over the next 5 years she kept every piece of mail she received, more than 300 letters, postcards, drawings and photographs. These letters are more than a family`s chronicle of survival: They document a vast network of Nazi slave labor camps.
(npr)

So the soldier did not want Eric to see him as a Nazi monster
By 1943, German soldiers were patrolling the streets. The Germans came with artillery and half-track tanks, fascinating to a 13-year-old boy. So Eric took a ride with them. "I remember my mother standing there, just ashen white." Eric knew nothing then of extermination camps. The Germans seemed like great guys. Eric helped them get around. They had canned fruit, chocolate, whole chickens and they liked to share. There was one german soldier in particular: One day he came to visit and walked out some distance with me. "I understand you`re Jewish, not all Germans are alike", he said. So the soldier did not want Eric to see him as a Nazi monster.
(---)

A slave of the Nazis - even survived being rescued by the Russians
Stefan Terlezki endured an appalling youth as a slave of the Nazis, and even survived being rescued by the Russians. The horrifying experiences of his teenage years left him with a visceral loathing of totalitarianism, whether Nazi or Communist. When the Russians took over the village in 1939, the Terlezki family initially regarded them with favour, but soon changed their ideas after the commissars banned extra wages during the harvest. In 1942 the Nazis arrived; Stefan remembered them throwing Jews over a bridge. At his school the Germans picked him out for forced labour.
(telegraph.co.uk)

Witness of Nazi Defeat - and a bronze bust and a letter from Hitler
WWII robbed Ursula Howard of any childhood boredom. By 1943, the German war machine began buckling before Allied troops. Her mother wrote to Adolf Hitler: "I have sent 3 sons to fight for you. I no longer believe the effort is worth our sacrifices." Hitler sent her a bronze bust of himself with a letter explaining his position. In 1945 the family moved westward in a horse-drawn buggy as the Red Army neared. Her mother said: "Don`t lose that schwein (pig)," referring to the Hitler bust. Once, Howard saw a member of the Hitler Youth, hanging from a tree. She left the Hitler letter and bust at one of the many stops during those hectic months.
(decaturdaily.com)

Man recalls his teen years among the Nazis - not a typical war story   (Article no longer available from the original source)
It begins simply: "Jan Makkreel spent his teen years in the Netherlands during the Nazi invasion and occupation." A couple of pages later he drops a bomb: "I was labeled a teenage Nazi collaborator." His uncle joined the Waffen SS, the combat arm of Adolf Hitler`s Nazi party, to fight the Russians. His uncle had a friend who became part of the Gestapo, the secret police in Nazi Germany. His uncle asked him to join the Youth Storm in Holland, a group like Hitler Youth, but "that military stuff was not for me," Makkreel said. In 1945, even after his uncle had been shot by a Dutch farmer, Makkreel - labeled "Nazi lover" - remained a target of scorn.
(heraldnet)

Diaries of Daily life during the Third Reich
German journalist Victor Klemperer risked his life when he secretly recorded how the Nazis controlled their own people through a campaign of fear and the silencing of dissent. Those who read his clandestine diaries, first-hand observations that chronicle the daily life of a Jew living outside of the concentration camps during the Third Reich, say they are as relevant today as they were 60 years ago when the Holocaust began.
(spiegel)

Post-war years exhibition: German women and American soldiers
The exhibition at Berlin`s Allied Museum offers a fascinating insight into life in the German capital when it lay in ruins, and Allied soldiers were banned from fraternizing with local women. An order of this kind never gets obeyed for long. Berlin was teeming at the time with lonely war widows and pretty young women, some of whom were in desperate need of food and shelter after their homes had been bombed and their loved ones killed.
(taipeitimes)


See also:
Historical Tours
HitlerJugend: Hitler Youth
Women during World War II
Reenactment: Living History
WW2-era Footage
WWII Stamps
Women in Third Reich.