Excerpts from

Trapped in Hitler's Hell

by Anita Dittman with Jan Markell

This insightful book can be ordered through Lighthouse Trails, 2005








Chapter 1: A New Era.— “Heil Hitler!”

I was a first-grader in Breslau, Germany.... It was 1933, and the Nazi fires were only kindling sparks. In time, they would erupt into a holocaust in which millions would be consumed by its hate, its lies, and its unfounded prejudices. Already I couldn't come home after school without suffering a stoning or a beating. particularly the little German boys, swollen with Aryan pride and propaganda that told them to stamp out inferiors, delighted in ganging up on me. [12]

       And this was just the beginning of what would be a twelve-year nightmare --  twelve years of waiting for a knock on the door from the Gestapo; for a loved one to be dragged away by the hair or the beard to points unknown; for a boxcar ride, to be jammed in with hundreds of frightened, weeping people on their way to a death camp; or for a merciful bullet to end it all. [12-13]
      Among those unfortunate Jews I was to be one of the few with a real home. I would come to know Jesus who was to offer peace in
the midst of the turmoil. After all, wasn’t He the Prince of Peace?
       My mother, Hilde, was one of thirteen children born into an Orthodox Jewish home in Germany. Since they were a pitifully poor family, they could not afford to send Mother to a Jewish school. Public schools always taught religion, so Mother, along with other poor Jewish children, had to hear about Jesus of Nazareth. The name of Jesus was an offense to most Jews. Under the banner of the cross, millions of Jews had died throughout history. Yet something within Mother was awakened whenever she read about Jesus in her textbooks. She couldn’t deny the tug at her heart as she studied His life, while Judaism left a spiritual vacuum this Man from Galilee beckoned to fill. She did not dare utter her curiosity aloud, yet she found herself saying quietly, “Maybe Jesus is the God I’ve been looking for.”

        But at nineteen she, like so many other searching young people, gave in to the lure of a cult: theosophy, which is similar to Hinduism and teaches reincarnation. Christ was placed on the same level as Buddha and Muhammad, and she could worship a multitude of equal gods. She renounced her Judaism and ran from Jesus. But the day was fast approaching when Mother would call upon the name of Yeshua (“Jesus”) for mercy, protection, deliverance, and, most important of all, salvation.
        Father was an Aryan German and a devout atheist. He was active in Germany’s Social Democratic Party, Hitler’s arch rival...

*   *   *

With all the religious options I had as a six-year-old, it is incredible that I could discern that Jesus truly was God. I did not believe in the rituals of Judaism or Catholicism, or Father’s ardent atheism, or Mother’s wavering practice of theosophy. The Spirit of God touched a little girl; in a few years I would take up my cross and follow Him. 

        ...at the time all that mattered was that I felt safe with Him. I knew He understood me, and I was sure He heard me when I talked to Him. He would become my best Friend even before He became my Lord and Savior.

       Adolf Hitler came to power because the confused and; senile President Hindenburg permitted it. In the early 1930s, Germany was in the throes of the economic depression that had begun on Wall Street in October 1929. The depression’s effects had been felt in Germany almost immediately; by 1933 nearly one third of the country was unemployed.

       During the 1930 elections, the Nazis made the most noise because they were violently anti-communist and had the backing of wealthy German industrialists. ... By 1932, the Nazis had become even stronger as they rallied around the leadership of Adolf Hitler. With his staff, Hitler traveled to every village and hamlet to gain votes, his unemployment bandwagon gaining so much support that the Nazis more than doubled their parliament seats....[15]

       Clearly, the law and Hitler were one. Later in the year, all other political parties were forbidden in Germany. The newly established secret police, the Gestapo, were given complete freedom to be ruthless, which would epitomize its character during the next twelve years in Germany.....

       Hitler... enrolled a bodyguard of forty thousand men. A particularly sadistic group of men who were a law unto themselves, this organization was called Schutzstaffel (literally, “protective rank”)—abbreviated to SS. ... Overnight they rose from beer hall patrons to men with power, and that power went to their heads. Both Hitler and his SS men wanted a law to do without the law, and they soon had it.

     The Gestapo were all members of the SS. Their duties were similar to those of the SS, and they were equally corrupt and power hungry. They all moved ahead by force, taking over government buildings, hoisting the swastika flag everywhere, and arresting any government official who opposed Hitler. President Hindenburg went along with everything except the persecution of the Jews. He even signed a decree in 1933, which freed all Nazis from prisons.

        Every Nazi opponent or suspicious individual would be exterminated or driven out of the country. The lucky ones made it to safety, though they were  few. Everything associated with the Jews would be the brunt of a particularly vicious attack, starting slowly in 1933 and culminating in an attempt at genocide or race annihilation.

        Hitler even had the Reichstag building burned to the ground in 1933 because it reminded him of a synagogue. In the spring, a boycott was ordered against Jewish businesses and professions to force them to pay large indemnities to maintain their bare existence....[17]

*   *   *

It was difficult for me as a child to understand Hitler, this demagogue whose picture was everywhere—in our classroom, on street banners, and, later, even defiling church altars. Each morning my teacher, Fräulein (Miss) Kinzel, would pray toward the picture of Hitler. Her words still ring in my ears: ‘Dear God, protect our dear leader. Make him strong. Let us all learn to love him. May he have many years of glorious reign.” All of us had to fold our hands and bow our heads. Then we had to raise our arm in the proper Hell Hitler manner and sing the German national anthem with great gusto. Failure to follow this nationalistic ritual meant a beating or being turned over to the Gestapo. ...

        A birthday card arrived from Father on my seventh birthday, after we hadn’t heard from him for more than a year. He explained that he had been sentenced to jail because of his involvement in the Social Democratic Party. ...  Now he was accusing Mother of betraying his whereabouts, but we had no idea to where he had disappeared. He was free now, but the Nazis had ordered him to divorce Mother because she was Jewish. [19]

        "You must take every precaution," Mother continued. "Keep to yourselves and never utter anything against the Nazis. Don’t trust anyone. Do you hear?” We nodded our understanding.... That winter most of our non-Jewish friends told us they could no longer associate with us. ... [21]

      My lonely heart ached for Mother’s company.... Mother dragged herself home after dark and spent the evening repairing our worn-out, hand-me-down clothing. Mother and I talked about God a lot...

      “Which God do you pray to, Mother?” I asked enthusiastically.

      “Oh, just any God. Whichever one is listening I don’t know whose God it is—the Jews’ God or the Gentiles’ God. I don’t know if it’s Jesus or Buddha or Muhammad. You pray to Jesus if you want, if it makes you feel better.”

      “Oh, Mother, it does! I just know Jesus hears me. Have you ever prayed to Jesus, Mother?”

      “Once I did, I think. I don’t know, though, a lot of Jews have been killed by people bearing His name.”...

      "At Christmas that year, I particularly strained to hear the carols coming from the church steeple several blocks away. The birth of Jesus had a special meaning to me for some reason. How strange to have such a friend as Jesus. We’d never met, but His presence was unmistakable....  [23]


"If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.... If they persecuted Me they will persecute you... for they do not know the One who sent Me."  John 15:19-21


Chapter 2: Race Disgrace


Soon Gestapo agents dressed in plain clothes visited the church services. Nevertheless, Pastor Hornig knew who they were. We had heard that one of the leading Protestant churchmen in Germany was heading a movement to harmonize Christianity with Nazi beliefs....

       "Pastor Hornig said the new Nazi church would be called the German Christian Church. Some German Protestant pastors would sell out to it, but most refused and then helped to organize the Confessional Evangelical Church, which would continue to preach the whole Bible, including the gospel of Jesus and the important role of the Jewish people in God’s eternal plan. It also would oppose having Hitler’s picture placed on church altars....

       “Don’t forget to talk to Jesus about even the smallest need, Anita,” Pastor Hornig reminded me one morning after we left church. “He’s never too busy to listen, and He cares about all our problems, not just the big ones.”...

       “I’ve talked to Jesus since I was six years old, Pastor,” I replied.... “Jesus is my best Friend.”

       “But is He your Savior, too, Anita?” the pastor questioned as he bent over slightly, looking intently into my eyes. “Have you really asked Him into your life to be your loving Heavenly Father and the Savior for your sins?”

       “I don’t know,” I confessed awkwardly. Then I replied enthusiastically, “But if I haven’t I want to do it!”

       “Then just ask Him, Anita. It’s that simple. Ask Jesus to be your Savior today. Tomorrow may be too late. And He has promised eternal life to all those who receive Him. Then He will never leave you nor forsake you. He’ll always be your Comforter and
Protector no matter how bad things get. Remember that, Anita, even when things worsen here in Germany, when all is black and uncertain and you feel utterly alone. If you have Jesus in your heart, He will get you through anything.”

*      *      *

The next day a radio announcer said Hitler planned to shut all parochial schools because they didn’t include Nazism and they allowed Jews to attend.... Again, stern warnings were given to Germans who helped Jews in any way. Christians who helped Jews would be subject to special reprisals, including time in a concentration camp. [28]

      The pastor had given each of us a Bible, and I watched Mother carry hers proudly out the door each week. If it was snowing she wrapped it carefully so that the thin pages would not get wet. ...

      In spite of my ragged clothes, near-starvation rations, and all the absurdity of life in Nazi Germany, I was extremely happy. Was this the peace that Pastor Hornig had told me would result from Jesus living in my heart?... [29]

*      *      *

      In Hitler’s opinion, the most dangerous Jews were those whose Jewishness was not obvious. They might be assimilating themselves into German society. Thus, all Jews were forced to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing in order to be easily identified. [37]


"...the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me." John 16:2-3

Excerpts posted with permission.

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