By: Kitty Werthmann    
  What I am about to tell  you is something you’ve probably never heard or will ever read in  history books.

I believe that I am  an eyewitness to history.  I cannot tell you that Hitler took  Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history.  We elected  him by a landslide – 98% of the vote..  I’ve never read that in any  American publications.  Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in  with his tanks and took Austria by  force.

In 1938, Austria was in  deep Depression.  Nearly one-third of our workforce was  unemployed.  We had 25% inflation and 25% 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.

The Communist Party and  the National Socialist Party were fighting each other.  Blocks and  blocks of cities like Vienna , Linz , and Graz were destroyed.  The  people became desperate and petitioned the government to let them decide  what kind of government they  wanted.

We looked to our  neighbor on the north, Germany , where Hitler had been in power since  1933.  We had been told that they didn’t have unemployment or  crime, and they had a high standard of living.  Nothing was ever  said about persecution of any group — Jewish or otherwise.  We  were led to believe that everyone 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, 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.

Hitler Targets  Education – Eliminates Religious Instruction for  Children:
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.  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.  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.  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.

Equal Rights Hits  Home:
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.  It was compulsory for young people,  male and female, to give one year to the labor corps.  During  the day, the girls worked on the farms, and at night they returned to  their barracks for military training just like the boys.  They were  trained to be anti-aircraft gunners and participated in the signal  corps.  After the labor corps, they were not discharged but were  used in the front lines.  When I go back to Austria to visit my  family and friends, most of these women are emotional cripples because  they just were not equipped to handle the horrors of combat.  Three  months before I turned 18, I was severely injured in an air raid  attack.  I nearly had a leg amputated, so I was spared having to go  into the labor corps and into military  service.

Hitler Restructured  the Family Through Daycare:
 When the mothers had to  go out into the work force, the government immediately established child  care centers.  You could take your children ages 4 weeks to school  age and leave them there around-the-clock, 7 days a week, under the  total care of the government.  The state raised a whole generation  of children. There were no motherly women to take care of the children,  just people highly trained in child psychology.  By this time, no  one talked about equal rights.  We knew we had been  had.
 Health Care and  Small Business Suffer Under Government Controls:
Before  Hitler, we had very good medical care.  Many American  doctors trained at the University of Vienna .  After Hitler, health  care was socialized, free for everyone.  Doctors were salaried by  the government.  The problem was, since it was free, the people  were going to the doctors for everything. When the good doctor arrived  at his office at 8 a.m., 40 people were already waiting and, at the same  time, the hospitals were full.  If you needed elective surgery, you  had to wait a year or two for your turn.  There was no  money for research as it was poured into socialized  medicine.  Research at the medical schools literally  stopped, so the best doctors left Austria and emigrated to  other  countries.
As for  healthcare, our tax rates went up to 80% of our  income.  Newlyweds immediately received a $1,000 loan  from the government to establish a household.  We had big programs  for families.  All day care and education were free.  High  schools were taken over by the government and college tuition was  subsidized.  Everyone was entitled to free handouts, such as food  stamps, clothing, and  housing.

We had another agency  designed to monitor business.  My brother-in-law owned  a restaurant that had square tables.  Government officials told him  he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump  themselves on the corners.  Then they said he had to have  additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with  a snack bar.  He couldn’t meet all the demands.  Soon, he went  out of business.  If the government owned the large businesses and  not many small ones existed, it could be in  control.

We had consumer  protection.  We were told how to shop and what to buy.  Free  enterprise was essentially abolished.  We had a planning agency  specially designed for farmers.  The agents would go to the farms,  count the live-stock, then tell the farmers what to produce, and how to  produce  it.

“Mercy Killing”  Redefined:
In 1944, I was a  student teacher in a small village in the Alps . The villagers were  surrounded by mountain passes which, in the winter, were closed off with  snow, causing people to be isolated.  So people intermarried and  offspring were sometimes retarded.  When I arrived, I was told  there were 15 mentally retarded adults, but they were all useful and did  good manual work.  I knew one, named Vincent, very well.  He  was a janitor of the school.  One day I looked out the window and  saw Vincent and others getting into a van.  I asked my superior  where they were going.  She said to an institution where the State  Health Department would teach them a trade, and to read and write.   The families were required to sign papers with a little clause that they  could not visit for 6 months.  They were told visits would  interfere with the program and might cause  homesickness.

As time passed, letters  started to dribble back saying these people died a natural, merciful  death.  The villagers were not fooled.  We suspected what was  happening.  Those people left in excellent physical health and all  died within 6 months.  We called this  euthanasia.

The Final Steps –  Gun Laws:
 Next came gun  registration.. People were getting injured  by guns.  Hitler said that the real way to catch criminals (we  still had a few) was by matching serial numbers on guns.  Most  citizens were law abiding and dutifully marched to the police station to  register their firearms.  Not long after-wards, the police said  that it was best for everyone to turn in their guns.  The  authorities already knew who had them, so it was futile not to comply  voluntarily.

No more freedom of  speech. Anyone who said something  against the government was taken away.  We knew many people who  were arrested, not only Jews, but also priests and ministers who spoke  up.

Totalitarianism didn’t  come quickly, it took 5 years from 1938 until 1943, to realize  full dictatorship in Austria .. Had it happened  overnight, my countrymen would have fought to the last breath.   Instead, we had creeping gradualism.  Now, our  only weapons were broom handles.  The whole idea sounds almost  unbelievable that the state, little by little eroded our  freedom.

After World War II,  Russian troops occupied Austria.  Women were raped,  preteen to elderly.  The press never wrote about this either.   When the Soviets left in 1955, they took everything that they could,  dismantling whole factories in the process.  They sawed down whole  orchards of fruit, and what they couldn’t destroy, they burned.  We  called it The Burned Earth. Most of the population barricaded themselves  in their houses.  Women hid in their cellars for 6 weeks as the  troops mobilized.  Those who couldn’t, paid the price.  There  is a monument in Vienna today, dedicated to those women who were  massacred by the  Russians.

This is an eye witness  account.  It’s true…..those of us who sailed past the Statue  of Liberty came to a country of unbelievable freedom and  opportunity.

America Truly is the Greatest  Country in the World.

Don’t Let Freedom Slip  Away!

“After America , There is No Place  to Go”

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