Austria’s Past and America’s Future
A Commentary by James A Graves, Jr.
I have written a number of articles and essays about various issues and just like the articles and essays that I’ve written about the global warming debate, I’ve had to research every detail, sorting out the noisy rantings of the Chicken Little’s and digging deep to find the quiet observations of those who actually saw the acorn hit Chicken Little on the head.
Much of the dire warnings of the future of our Republic are based on observations of changes in our culture, our laws and our government. Some of the sources have ulterior motives for shouting doom and gloom, but most are sincerely concerned for the future of America.
No one has a crystal ball to see the future, and since we have a tendency toward the dramatic, it’s easy to put a sinister spin on the predictions of the future whether it is from genuine concern or not. But, occasionally I find a story that is obviously politically slanted, but has no spin written into it, a story that simply provides information that the reader can either accept or dismiss.
Such is the case with the story below, written by Kitty Werthmann.
The story came to me via email with the following two introductions…
“Henry Niemann works with me as a volunteer for the Lodi Police Dept. He was in the German Hitler youth movement and he and his wife came to the States after the war. He is willing to share his experience. He fought in WW II and was injured. I found this very interesting and I hope that you find it informative. Jan”
“Hello There! Through my own experience, and have lived through the "CHANGE" in Germany after the first W.W. and economic problem, I support this story. If we keep on going in Obama's direction, we will have a complete copy, and we will lose our freedom. This story is long, but worth reading. Have a nice day. Henry Niemann.”
“Friends, I had the opportunity to hear Kitty Werthmann speak at the Eagle Forum national conference a couple of months back. She told a powerful story about what it was like growing up under Hitler.”
America Truly is the Greatest Country in the World. Don’t Let Freedom Slip Away
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:
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:
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:
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 homesick-ness.
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 eyewitness account. It’s true…those of us who sailed past the Statue of Liberty came to a country of unbelievable freedom and opportunity.
"After America, There is No Place to Go"
Kitty Werthmann is real and so is her story
And she has lots of enemies, like John Amato, who writes in his blog that Kitty Werthmann should be silenced by the DHS…
John Amato fails to realize that the same government with the power to ignore the First Amendment and silence Kitty Werthmann could just as easily silence him.
Now that you’ve read Ms. Werthmann’s story about the changes in Austria from 1938 to 1943, compare those changes with the changes that are happening today in America, keeping in mind the difference between
1. A Democratic Republic that allows unlimited free enterprise through private business ownership with minimal government control
2. Socialism, with government ownership and control of all businesses, and
3. Fascism, with both government owned businesses and total government control of all privately owned businesses.
Then ask yourself, is America still a Democratic Republic?
If your answer is ‘yes’ then ask yourself, how much longer will America remain a Democratic Republic if the present trends continue?
There is a saying by George Santayana (1863 - 1952) from The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.“
The most sobering aspect of Kitty Werthmann’s story is that America is in the process of repeating Austrian history.
I don’t know about you, but it scares the Hell out of me.
©2009 James A Graves, Jr.