Mar 062010

Kitty Werthmann, a young woman in Austria at the time of the Nazi takeover, tells the propaganda story.  Many thanks to Jackie Stower from Ohio for sending it.

And many thanks, I am grateful for your thoughtful responses:  Kitty’s story is part of the make Obama into Hitler agenda.   The comments are appended; they are important for a full reading of Werthann’s article.

Selected Excerpt from Kitty’s story:

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.”


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(Link no longer valid

The author of the following article, Kitty Werthmann, grew up in Austria and lived through the Hitler regime both before and after WWII, and the suppression of human rights and freedom by the Nazi Party.   She moved to the USA and became a citizen in 1962.  She is 83 years old.    (INSERT: NO.  This article is not current.  Using the ages and events provided, she was probably born around 1921, is about 89 years old in 2010.)  and lives in Pierre , South Dakota  …

(INSERT (Sandra speaking):  There is a YouTube interview with Kitty Werthmann at: (2007)

You, of course, may not agree with everything Kitty writes.   I do not.  But I still think it is valuable, especially with the “Comments” submitted (at bottom), to cogitate on some of what she describes.

America Truly is the Greatest Country in the World.

Don’t Let Freedom Slip Away!

By: Kitty Werthmann (An Austrian who witnessed what took place under Hitler)

What I am about to tell you is something you’ve probably never heard or read in history books.

I am an eyewitness to history.  I can tell you that Hitler did not take 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 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, and 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

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Hi Sandra,

There are many elements to Kitty Werthmann’s narrative that ring true.  The Nazi occupation of Austria brought in a regime that was totally focussed on collectivism and totalitarianism.  This process of gradual domination was made acceptable by the propagandistic notion that the common good was being represented in Hitler’s social program and his “family values” agenda.  In fact, it was just the beginning of his effort to eliminate public scrutiny and political accountability, and then to impose his more sinister designs.

Unfortunately, in looking at the actual website from which her account is taken, I realize that her story is being used to reinforce the highly individualistic (and paranoid) perspective of the far-right Republican agenda in the USA.  The deep-seated distrust of government interference in everyday life means, to them, that Kitty is encouraging U.S. citizens to resist every effort to:

1)     take Christianity out of the public school system and allow heretical outside ideas to infiltrate children’s minds;

2)     facilitate women’s misguided efforts to work outside the home and otherwise expand their horizons beyond child-rearing and serving as dutiful wives;

3)     undermine the nuclear family unit by opening up day-care centres (and at the same time furthering the agenda mentioned in #2 above);

4)     take centralized control of the medical care system, where individual choice is eliminated;

5)     impose a “humanistic” value system from the top whereby a culture of abortion is fostered, and death panels will determine the fate of the elderly; and

6)     take away the rights of the individual to own and bear arms and thereby to resist hegemonic government authority.

Unfortunately, for the far right in the USA this is what the Democratic Obama administration’s platform distils down to.  And this is the agenda that Kitty Werthmann is calling into question.  So, in their minds, the move towards broad-based social programs like Health Care Reform, the secularization of schools, or gun control means that the rights of ordinary Americans are being neutralized in advance of a much more sinister plan to usurp democracy and the rights of the individual.  As a democratic socialist, I am afraid that this portrayal of Obama as a modern-day Hitler and his program as an effort towards totalitarian, statist domination very effectively undermines all efforts to make America a safer, more humanitarian society.  I am also afraid that the corporate agenda that you are resisting in the Lockheed census case has been and will continue to be clouded by the distribution of fodder such as Ms. Werthmann’s article, which serves to foster even more extremist reactions by red-neck America.

Thanks for listening!  I hope to be able to see you in action at the court house on March 16.


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Sandra–That piece by Werthmann has gone viral in the networks of people who are sure that Obama is the next Hitler. Werthmann is an ultra-conservative being put to good use by the corporate interests who are trying to stop Obama from introducing medicare. In September she was advising people to take up arms against Obama.

Not sure you want to be promoting her way of thinking. Take a look at these links:

Trevor Herriot

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Janet re-circulated the Kitty Werthmann email.

Dear Janet,

My grandmother was an Austrian contemporary of Kitty. She raised her 4 children there – before, during, and after the war. Her 9 year old son bled to death in her arms, an indirect casualty of American night bombing in southern Austria in the last days of the war. She experienced more pain than I ever will in my entire life. She must have been shielding me because she only ever spoke a few words about those times. Or, they were times bound so tightly into her life’s tragedies she could not speak about them, to anyone, let alone to a grandchild. Though Kitty’s and others’ experience of Hitler’s times differ, this was extremely thought-provoking reading for me. It helped me better understand my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, my sister, and myself. Thanks for this, Janet.

And going by the bold titles below, we are seeing that what were once Nazi policies are today being implemented in our Canadian and U.S. Governments…Instead of letting this frighten us, let this heighten our awareness of what those who want to lead us are up to, and what may be motivating them, – always a good protection, coupled with love.

Kind regards,

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What I get from this is that creeping totalitarianism overwhelmed 1930s Austria and that the elements of modern “liberalism” — health care, daycare, the promise of full employment some day — heralds the coming of similar conditions throughout the world. Is that a fair assessment of the material?


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Hi Sandra,

This piece by Kitty Werthmann sounds like a piece of American propaganda. I briefly checked the historian Ian Kershaw’s book Making Friends with Hitler on the topic of the Anschluss of Austria. It doesn’t match Werthmann’s description very well. Also, her diatribe against socialized medicine and the gun laws sounds very American to me. That’s just a couple of thoughts off the top of the head. I don’t intend to research this further, but I would caution to take the “facts” in her piece with a heaping spoon of salt.


(Later)   I understand what you’re trying to do.   We’re of course immersed in propaganda every day, both political and  commercial.



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Hello Sandra,

I have read the writing of Kitty Werthmann as posted in your mass e-mail.

I am highly suspicious of her version of history and specifically, the “socialist” philosophy she purports to have held sway in Austria under Hitler.

Glancing around the internet, I note that Kitty Werthmann is heavily promoted by Eagle America, an organization for promotion of Phyllis Schlafly, an extremely right wing, anti-women’s equality, perhaps “Republican”.

Sorry to say – I think you’ve been had by right wing propaganda, people who are seriously trying to say that Hitler was a socialist – and so is Obama.

You might want to check this out more thoroughly than I have time for right now.

Thanks Sandra,


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