On Hitler's Mountain is a powerful, intimate, riveting, and revealing
account of a seemingly halcyon life lived mere paces from a center of evil and
madness; a remarkable memoir of an "ordinary" childhood spent in an
extraordinary time and place.
Born in 1934, Irmgard Hunt grew up in the picturesque Bavarian village of
Berchtesgaden, in the shadow of the Eagle's Nest and near Adolf Hitler's
luxurious alpine retreat. The very model of blond Aryan "purity,"
Irmgard sat on the Führer's knee for photographers, witnessed with excitement
the comings and goings of all manner of famous personages, and with the
blindness of a child accepted the Nazi doctrine that most of her family and
everyone around her so eagerly embraced. Here, in a picture-postcard world
untouched by the war and seemingly unblemished by the horrors Germany's master
had wrought, she accepted the lies of her teachers and church and civic leaders,
joined the Hitler Youth at age ten, and joyfully sang the songs extolling the
virtues of National Socialism.
But before the end -- when she and other children would be forced to cower in
terror in dank bomb shelters and wartime deprivations would take a harrowing
toll -- Irmgard's doubts about the "truths" she had been force-fed
increased, fueled by the few brave souls who had not accepted Hitler and his
abominations. After the fall of the brutal dictatorship and the suicide of its
mad architect, many of her neighbors and loved ones still clung to their
beliefs, prejudices, denial, and unacknowledged guilt. Irmgard, often feeling
lonely in her quest, was determined to face the truth of her country's criminal
past and to bear the responsibility for an almost unbearable reality that most
of her elders were determined to forget. She resolved even then that the lessons
of her youth would guide her actions and steel her commitment to defend the
freedoms and democratic values that had been so easily dismissed by the German
Provocative and astonishing, Irmgard A. Hunt's On Hitler's Mountain offers
a unique, gripping, and vitally important first-person perspective on a
tumultuous era in modern history, as viewed through the eyes of a child -- a
candid and fascinating document, free of rationalization and whitewash, that
chronicles the devastating moral collapse of a civilized nation.
An exceptionally readable and interesting book. By focusing on the microcosm of her own family and their neighbors, Irmgard's memoir shows how it was possible for a nation to fall willingly under Hitler's power - one family at a time. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Library Journal - Dale Farris
This vital memoir reveals a child's-eye view of the brutal impact of Nazism and the ravages of World War II on nonmilitary Germans. Hunt's is a precautionary reminder of what can happen when an ordinary society chooses a cult of personality over rational thought.
Those looking for an explanation of the Hitler phenomenon will be disappointed, but readers who want a richly textured memoir of a German girl during WWII will find it here.
Valuable firsthand look at daily life under Nazism as lived by "the average, law-abiding, middle-class German who helped sweep Hitler to power and then supported him to the end.
Booklist - Jay Freeman
Hunt's later recollections of life under occupation and her personal struggles to cope with the legacy of her parents' generation make this a poignant, valuable account.
Hunt's later recollections of life underPeter Gay, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus, Yale
A supremely honest, attractively written book, unsparing about her parents' involvement with the regime, and her own awakening from the indoctrination she underwent… An important book.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Kathy Pohlman Facinating read! Irmgard's depiction of her life gave me insight into my G Grandmother Pohlmans' life in the Austrian Alps. I'm grateful she was generous enough to share her story. I now have even more respect for German's who found themselves under Hitlers... Read More
Rated of 5
by Joan from Arkansas Watch out America! I could not put the book down once I started reading!
Thank you Irmgard for giving Americans an insight to just what can happen in America if we don't heed the warnings. We are on the way I am afraid. Every American should read this account!... Read More
Rated of 5
by Wanda T. Crow On Hitler's Mountain, Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood I'm in the middle of your book at present. I can hardly put it down.
I was born in 1933 & my sister in 1934 - Arkansas, U.S.A. I was struck by your close-knit family, as mine was. Your family not really realizing what was going on, but felt... Read More
Rated of 5
by liane gutman Ill at ease, perched on Hitler's knee. The book speaks to us, without apologies. It speaks for Irmgard Hunt
Rated of 5
by Barbara I can hear my mother's voice Growing up, I often heard many stories of what it was like growing up in Germany during the Hitler years. In recent years, occasionally someone would say that all Germans knew what was going on and condoned the actions of the Nazi regime.... Read More
Some years after WWII, Hunt
moved to the USA. Before retiring, she was an executive at a number of
environmental organizations, including the Nature Conservancy and the
Environmental Partnership for Central Europe, a project of the German
Marshall Fund. She lives in Washington, D.C., and has two children and two
The web appears to offer very little historical information about Berchtesgaden and
the Eagle's Nest. The best I could find is a
company website that has a little information about the area
and a couple of photos.
Plot Against America by Philip Roth (2004).
Alternative history set in 1940s Nazi America.
According to research studies such as those performed by
Milgram in the 1960s, about two-thirds of the general
population will follow the...
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