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John P. Rooney
- Published on Amazon.com
"Being Present" by Willy Schumann. Subtitled: "Growing Up In Hitler's Germany" Kent State University, Kent, Ohio. 1991.
In 1927, Willy Schumann was born in northern Germany, up by the Kiel Canal and the border with Denmark. Due to this location, Willy Schumann, the author of this autobiographic book, had a great interest in the German Navy, (the Kriegsmarine), German warships and seamanship. His father was one of the pilots whose job was to guide large vessels through the Kiel Canal and its locks.
The book is an account of how the Nazi Party took over all facets of life in the
Third Reich, but most interestingly, it is an account of how the Nazi Party ran almost every aspect of the education system: teachers, curriculum and even the students' expected responses. At an early age, each German boy was required to join the Hitler Youth Hitler Youth compulsory participation (see page 104) took up more and more of a boy's time, as he grew older and older, until, for teenagers, the organization consumed even summer vacations with war games.
Willy Schumann recounts his experiences in the Hitler Youth, his indoctrination by Nazi concepts, and his belief in the Third Reich, reinforced, in 1939 through 1940, as the German army won victory after victory. He tells of the joy as the conquests of Poland, Norway, Denmark, and so on, are reported to the German people. In the early years, the only setback that he recalls is the sorrow with the sinking of the Bismark, their "darling ship", by the Royal Navy.
The Nazi Party held close control over the German people. Schumann records that the teachers found it wise not to disagree with Nazi propaganda. Religion was ignored in favor of Nazi events, so "...we grew up `like small heathens'". (Page 81.) No one dared to speak out against Adolf Hitler and his actions, and this really became dangerous after the July 20 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler. I could go on, but you ought to read his book yourself to get one man's story of a society that, at first, was grateful for better economic conditions but then became more and more fearful as the Nazis took more and more control.
To sum up, this is one man's study of how the State consumed every aspect of life until the State, itself, was consumed by outside forces. Schumann tells of his trip through the ruins of the city of Hamburg, which had been consumed by a firestorm, (July 1943), caused by RAF bombing.