Hear wisdom for America from a one-time Nazi youth leader

Reports from Ukraine and the surrounding countries keep us all on edge. Many of us are hazy about the long, troubled history of this part of the world and don't see the tie-ins between what's going on now and say, World War II. "Hansi's" story will fill in some of the gaps.

I met her when she spoke at a years-ago gathering of Christian women in our area. We knew only that our speaker had grown up under Hitler. As usual, I came prepared to take notes. 

 Maria Ann Hirschmann started off by saying, "Everyone calls me Hansi," and continued on in a lively stream of words. image from awomansview.typepad.com

Soon she announced that by God's mercy and protection she had reached the age of 84 years old. 

I think it's fair to say none of us expected to hang on every word she spoke, but we did. Nor could we know how her story would relate to anything here in the United States.

Hansi was born in Czechoslovakia to German-speaking parents, which made them part of a small minority. Times were harsh, with never enough food. When Hansi's mother realized she was pregnant with their third child, her husband insisted she have an abortion, a common "solution" for an unexpected pregnancy.

"But my mother believed in God," Hansi said, "and she could not do that."

When the infant turned out to be a third daughter, her father took one look and said, "Ach! Another girl," and walked away in disgust. 

Not long after, this Christian mother urged her best friend, "Marta," to take in Hansi, even though she already had four children. Marta felt her friend's distress and answered, "I will take your child and I will raise her for Jesus." 

"She kept her promise and I learned about the Christian faith," Hansi said, "but my foster mother stressed that God wants us to be good--and then He would love us. So I grew up believing God could never love me, because I was not an easy child. I always talked, always asked, 'Why?' and was forever in trouble. I felt unwanted at home and at school, but now even by God." 

Times were hard all over Czechoslovakia. The young girl grew up sleeping in haylofts and seldom had shoes, even in the coldest winter. Hunger stalked the land. "We had almost no food, no hope things could change and nothing to believe in.

"Then one day over the hill came the Nazi soldiers carrying the German flag.

"They told us not to be frightened. Hitler would take care of us. He would see to it that we had food and clothing and work, which meant money to spend. Within six weeks it all came true. We had enough to eat and at last we had shoes. Factories started up again, so we had jobs.

"Surely, we concluded, all this came about because of the goodness and wisdom of Adolph Hitler. So now we had someone we could put our faith in--and we did, because we saw the change all around us. Now we could dare to hope again."

Nazis went throughout the country testing children, even in the little one-room school Hansi attended. They chose her to attend the Youth Training Institute in Prague. "For the first time somebody actually chose me. I was the poorest kid in the village, so I could not expect to go on to high school or college," Hansi said. "Now I thought I had caught the rainbow.

"As I got on the train my foster mother whispered in my ear, 'Don't forget about Jesus.' I promised I wouldn't, but within a year I had totally forgotten everything I ever learned about Jesus."

For the first time in her life Hansi had a bed of her own, with warm blankets, in a warm room. She had new clothes (her uniforms) with three good meals every day. Leaders constantly told these young people. "The 'Great Supreme Being' has chosen Hitler to save Germany and all of Europe. And Adolph Hitler has chosen each of you to be a leader, to help him change the world."

"At last I had a purpose," she said. "Folks always ask me how the people of the Reformation could believe in Hitler and allow Nazism to take over their land. I tell them we were brainwashed, which is nothing more than being told the same thing over and over and over.

"We didn't know the word 'brainwashing,' didn't even guess it was happening, but it was. After awhile, you think it must be right, because you keep hearing it everywhere. We all believed what we heard and millions turned away from God.

"I know now that all this proves the truth of Proverbs 14:12, which reads, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death."

Her present fear for the USA

"My friends," Hansi told us on that California Saturday, "that is my biggest fear for my beloved America. I am very, very afraid for our country. As a nation we have turned to the ways of the world and it seems right. In so many ways we have abandoned the God of our forefathers.

"I know from personal experience that when you turn away from God a country can be destroyed very quickly.

"That's why I say to you and all my fellow Americans, in every election, Vote! Learn all you can about the candidates and choose carefully, but vote! If two people are running and you don't like either one, then vote for the lesser of two evils. But don't ever forget that being allowed to vote is a tremendous privilege and freedom is never something to take for granted.

"Freedom is God's gift and it is precious. I know, because I have lived without it." 

In my next post I'll tell you about Hansi's dangerous escape from Russian captivity and her first frightening encounter with a dreaded American.

(Please note: This is my best paraphrase of Hansi's words, from my notes and also watched the five-part YouTube series about Maria Anne Hirschmann, a.k.a., Hansi.)

May God bless you and watch over you,


November 10, 2021

January 21, 2021

October 15, 2020

November 11, 2016

June 28, 2013


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