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 people.
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.
Preface: On Writing A Childhood Memoir
A sense of great urgency, after years of postponement, propelled
me to write this memoir. With the passing of my parents' generation many facts
of everyday life under the Nazis and the German people's feelings about the Nazi
experience are already lost forever. Firsthand accounts by the average,
law-abiding, middle-class German who helped sweep Hitler to power and then
supported him to the end are becoming a rarity. yet the seemingly petty details
of these people's lives are actually often symbolic and always telling. They
illuminate the societal transitions from pre-Nazi, to Nazi, to post-Nazi, and
from a post-World War I to a post-World War II mind-set. In the continuing
struggle to understand the past -- both personally and as a lesson from history
-- these details are too important not to be recorded and thus preserved.
Of course historians have written countless volumes documenting and analyzing Hitler and the ...
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).
Full Review (479 words).
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
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