About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - On Hitler's Mountain by Irmgard A. Hunt

Figuring out what will interest blog readers is always a tossup. I'm constantly surprised at the topics that get a lot of hits on Summit Musings. A good example of this puzzle is a post that I wrote about visiting Hitler's infamous mountain retreat, the Eagle's Nest, high in the Austrian Alps and about an hour's drive from Salzburg, Austria. At least one reader clicks on this post almost every day. That's why I was so interested in reading Irmgard A. Hunt's On Hitler's Mountain, her memoir of growing up in the Berchtesgaden valley in a village at the base of Hitler's mountaintop retreat.

Teaser Tuesday is described by its host, Miz B over at Should Be Reading ,as a "weekly bookish meme" open to any reader who wants to play along. If, like me, you're always curious about what people are reading or on the lookout for the next great read, then this may by your meme. To play, just click on Miz B's link above for the simple rules.

On Hitler's Mountain, Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood
by Irmgard A. Hunt

" Hitler had chosen Obersalzberg, a hamlet above Berchtesgaden, as his home and headquarters. . . The mountain loomed large over every aspect of my childhood in this highly visible and public place, in the shadow of the Eagle's Nest and near the lair of men whom the world would come to view as monsters." p. 2

Book description: Hunt's memoir provides a vivid, yet homely, account of what it was like to be a child in a Nazi Germany and a daily witness to the historic events that took place on Hitler's mountain. As she went about her childhood activities, she saw the mysterious black cars carrying Nazi and other world leaders to meetings with Hitler on the mountain. She was subjected to the Nazi propaganda and National Socialist teachings at home and in school. Her father was drafted and killed fighting for Hitler early in the war, leaving her mother, sister and herself to struggle on alone. Only her grandfather had the courage to speak out against the Nazis. In May 1945, 11 year old Irmgard saw American soldiers, Easy Company, occupy Hitler's retreat and help bring the war to an end. This is an important memoir for its honest look at what happens when a country loses its way and becomes pawns of evil, amoral leaders. It is the rememberings such as this that will save us from repeating this evil in the future.

Here's excerpts from the "Easy Company Takes Hitler's Eagle's Nest" post that describes my 2008 visit to Hitler's mountain:

September 17--by now I'm at exactly the mid-point of a two week tour of Europe. On this day our tour group travelled from "base camp" in Innsbruck, Austria to Salzburg for a tour of Mozart's home city, spending the majority of our time in the Getreidegasse, or Old Town, where Mozart lived and worked. We were also in Sound of Music country, seeing the church where Maria and Captain von Trapp were married and the estate where Maria cared for his many children and later helped the family escape the Nazis. We even saw the hill where Julie Andrews was filmed singing "The hills are alive. . ." This hill was on the southeast route out of Salzburg which we took for our afternoon destination--Hitler's Eagle's Nest.

The Eagle's Nest is a cliff top fortress about 28 km outside of Salzburg near Berchtesgaden, Germany on the German-Austrian border in the Austrian Alps. We were in luck that day because there was snow falling in the mountains. The cold mist added to the eerie feeling we were all experiencing, knowing the horrible decisions of life and death that were made by the Nazi administration at this evil nest high in the Alps. When we got to the village of Oberzalberg (where Hitler lived when not at the Eagle's Nest) we transferred to special bus equipped to climb the narrow one lane road and around the hairpin curves carved in the side of the mountain. One mis-turn and we would have been tumbling down the mountain to the valley below. Such beauty. Such danger.

After a short bus ride we get off at the base of the mountain and walked through a marble lined tunnel dug 400 ft. into the mountain. From there we took the original brass elevator 400 ft. straight up into the Eagle's Nest building at the top of the mountain. Today this place is a tourist destination and restaurant. In the mid-40s Hitler used this mountain hideaway, or "Teahouse" as he called it, for entertaining foreign dignitaries and members of the Third Reich. There were photos and newsreels of Hitler and his guests looking out over the Alps from the decks, just as tourists were doing that day. (After the tour while waiting by the tunnel for our bus down the hill, we decompressed with an impromptu snowball fight in the parking lot, ganging up on Sandor, the cheeky Aussie, who enjoyed tormenting many of us.)

Hitler's Eagle's Nest was designed and built for Adolph Hitler's 50th birthday by his personal secretary and head of the Nazi Party, Martin Bormann. Incredibly, the construction was done by soldiers who signed on to work cutting a road by hand up the Alps. The work went on 24:7 through all seasons. Many men fell to their deaths in its construction. After all this effort to ingratiate, Bormann was not that successful. Hitler was afraid of heights, among other things. He chose to live in his chalet, Berghof, at a much lower elevation.

In May 1945 American troops, Easy Company--a band of brothers made up of farmers, coal miners, mountain men, sons of the south, and Harvard, Yale, and UCLA graduates--took control of the country surrounding the town of Berchtesgaden,
including houses of the Gestapo police. They also secured the Eagle's Nest in the only way possible by scaling the mountain face. Their job was to search out German generals and SS troopers who were hiding in the Alps.

Before I saw this incredible place, I wish I had known more about Easy Company and the individual soldiers who joined the Army from all walks of life, their only preparation for fighting being sports or hard scrabble work of farming or coal mining. They signed on to train for the parachute infantry for the extra $50 per month they'd earn. Along the way they learned to work as a unit to accomplish their mission and protect their brother soldiers. And to use one of their favorite expressions, "That ain't no chicken shit job."


Jennifer said...

Wonderful teaser and gorgeous pictures.
My TT: http://www.rundpinne.com/2011/07/teaser-tuesdays-my-teaser-is-from-the-secret-lives-of-the-four-wives.html

"Confuzzled" Shannon said...

Beautiful pictures! The teaser and thought of anything Hitler angers me when ever I see his name...I don't know if I could read about the subject...Although I think I read the diary of Anne Frank but honestly blocked some of it out.

Leora said...

Beautiful place and scenes - just knowing who lived there, though, makes it hard for me to look at it without being disgusted.

Sayre said...

That sounds like an interesting book! Thanks for bringing it to my attention - and for re-sharing your trip to the Eagle's Nest. That really was an amazing post.

Faye said...

Note to lovely commenters: my Google account is testing this blogger's patience lately. Won't let me comment on your posts if I have to designate an account (i.e., "google"). I enter the info and instead of going to edit or posting, the comment disappears. Aught-t-t!! I'll try to sort it out.

Meanwhile, just wanted you to know that I'm reading your posts, but can't leave those comments that we all love!

Debs Carr said...

Incredible pictures. I loved watching Band of Brothers and found it amazing that those men achieved so much and were so very brave.

diannehartsock said...

Books like this one break my heart. Beautiful pictures, though.

Yvonne said...

Excellent post! The book sounds very interesting.

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

This one sounds fabulous! Thanks for sharing the beautiful excerpts and photos.

And thanks for visiting my blog.