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TrumpWatch: From the diary of a Nazi wife


April 3, 1946

My name is Anneliese von Bahr, née Wagner. I am married to Hermann von Bahr, an Oberleutnant in the German Army. My husband is currently incarcerated at the Allied Prison in Nuremburg.

He was, until the end of the war, Commandant of the concentration camp at Birkenau, in German-occupied Poland. I met Hermann in 1923; we were married only nine months later. We have three children: Emma, Charlotte and Max. They are aged 21, 19 and 13, respectively.

Hermann was appointed to Birkenau by his superior, Heinrich Himmler, in August, 1941. Prior to that, he had been been the Associate Commandant of the Buchenwald concentration camp for four years, until Himmler requested his transfer to Birkenau, which, of course, my husband obeyed. Our new home was pleasant: ten rooms, in a lovely stone house on the hill above the campgrounds and barracks. It wasn’t fancy; we had but two servants, a cook and a maid. Hermann himself did not have a secretary. We were simple people, working class; my husband never was rich, the way some of the others, like Goering, were  from war booty.

I well remember when Hermann told me, in 1941, that we were moving from Buchenwald, near Weimar in Central Germany, to Birkenau. I did not want to. Emma was at university. Charlotte was just beginning gymnasium while little Max was only eight. They had their friends; I had my routine; we were settled. But Hermann said he had no choice.

“An order is an order. Besides,” he smiled, “this represents an increase in pay.” Then he grew serious. “Look, lieber maus” (this was his term of endearment for me), “things are going to change in a big way.”

“What do you mean, Hermann?”

“My work will be more strenuous than it has been hitherto. And there will be aspects which I cannot tell you about.”

“What do you mean?”

Hermann arose from the sofa and walked to the stove, where I had a pot of tea warming. He poured himself a cup, added his usual three spoons of sugar, and then sat back down beside me. Putting the cup on the side table, he said, “There are things I have been asked to do that are, well, hard. Very hard. They will test me. But they have to be done.”

I was afraid. What did my Hermann, my love, the father of my three beloved children, mean? I knew that we were in the midst of a war—an ugly, vicious, violent war. We were fighting for our lives, for Germany’s life. Sometimes, in war, horrible things are done. I recognized that. Buchenwald hadn’t been easy. But now, Hermann was intimating that Birkenau would be far more difficult.

I suppose I had an inkling, although it was difficult to admit it to myself. But still, I was confused. Hermann must have read this in my face, for he went on with as much detail as he felt capable at that time. He explained how Himmler had told him that Germany’s enemies, chiefly the Jews, had brought the war upon us, and were bent on Germany’s destruction. Everything we loved—everything we valued—our lives, our children, our way of life—was threatened by international Jewry. Unless the Jew was stopped, permanently, he would survive the current situation due to his high birth rate, and eventually bring Germany down. That, we had to stop.

I knew, of course, that the Jews were our enemy. I knew that Germany was the light of the world. Our kultur was of the highest quality. Our race and our blood were clearly superior to that of most of the rest of the world’s people. We had given mankind Beethoven, Bach, Kant, Schiller, Frederick the Great, Goethe! Germany deserved to live, to triumph, to lead everyone else to our high level of achievement. There could be no argument! But something in Hermann’s tone was deeply troubling.

“Lieber, what do you mean? What are these ‘very hard things’ you will have to do?”

Hermann took my hands in his, lifted them to his lips, and kissed them. Then his eyes met mine. We looked deep into each other’s souls. I saw the man I loved and had married—the only man to whom I had surrendered my body and soul. The finest man I had ever known. And in his eyes, I saw something I could not put words to, something terrible, horrifying—so hideous that my Hermann, my brave, stalwart Hermann, himself seemed shaken. I longed for him to break the silence and speak, and finally he did. And this is what he said:

“I have lived my life in as exemplary a manner as I could. You know that. Now, in the midst of this awful war, it would be dishororable if I were to turn on my beliefs, and refuse to obey the orders of my superiors. Without order, there is chaos. Anneliese, my dearest little mouse, my flower, love of my love, life of my life, I am called upon to do the most difficult things. I cannot tell you. I will not tell you. I beg you, my wife, do not ask. Stand beside me; for without your love and support, I will not be able to do that which I have been asked to do.”

Well, what could I say? “My husband, of course. Do what you must—for yourself, for me, for Germany, for history! I will always love you!”

Now, poor Hermann has been condemned to death. I stand by him still. If there is not loyalty, there is nothing.

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