Wolfhilde's Hitler Youth Diary 1939-1946
Written by Wolfhilde von König

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Wolfhilde pasted into her diary many magazine and newspaper photo-clippings which illustrate her corresponding written entries.  These, posted below, are not included in the book because we have not been able to locate their owners – even though we have tried very hard – as required by copyright law.  These are posted here for the sole purpose of locating the owners.  If you own any of these, please use the “contact us” form to let us know.  We would like to make arrangements for including them in a future edition. 

Seeing the war through the eyes of a Hitler Youth

By WILLIAM F. AST III - H-P Staff Writer      February 28, 2013

STEVENSVILLE - Those who prefer unfiltered, primary source history now have a chance to see what young Germans were thinking in the World War II years.

When retired Whirlpool Corp. executive Emanuel "Manny" VonKoenig died in 2009, his effects included a diary written by his older sister, Wolfhilde, starting when she was 14. The family lived in Munich, and the diary covers the years 1939-46.

VonKoenig's sons - Ed, Doug, Jeff and Curt - had considerable trouble getting the diary translated, as it was written in a type of handwriting no longer used. But the work was finally done and the result is a book titled "Wolfhilde's Hitler Youth Diary."

The diary's existence was a "complete surprise," said Ed VonKoenig of Lincoln Township. "We never knew it existed."

The diary gives an unflinching and frequently fascinating look at how one girl, an intelligent and educated girl destined to become a top-flight anesthesiologist and head of a hospital, saw the war from the home front.

The Third Reich had a powerful propaganda machine and knew how to use it. Joining the Hitler Jugend was mandatory, and the youngsters were bombarded with Nazi spin.

Wolfhilde in the diary calls Allied bombing raids "terror attacks." She is an enthusiastic backer of her country, and never questions the war until the end.

"We stand at the turning of the year; for the second year in a row, at war," Wolfhilde wrote on Dec. 31, 1940. "We have achieved great victories. We have conquered Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France. A year full of hopes and wishes is about to end. May next year be the last year at war and may England, our mortal enemy, be stomped to the ground."

Of particular interest is Wolfhilde's description of an assassination attempt against Hitler in Munich in 1939.

"When I went to bed after (Hitler's) speech, we heard a horrible bang but we couldn't figure out where it came from," Wolfhilde wrote. "The next morning we found out about the horrible assassination attempt on our Fuehrer. It was a kind providence for which we will be eternally grateful that our Fuehrer was spared."

On April 29, 1945, the day before Hitler committed suicide in Berlin, Wolfhilde wrote, "I sit here writing as the earth shudders from the thunder of gunfire ... In Berlin they are fighting to the end."

Although Wolfhilde didn't know it, though Manny had been in the Navy, he was among those battling Soviet troops in the ferocious street fighting in Berlin. He would be captured by the Soviets, and was released in June 1946.

"I just want to know how the Fuehrer is doing," Wolfhilde continued. "Is everything supposed to be over, everything we believed in and everything that we lived for? Should all the sacrifices have been in vain? I can not believe it ... Reichsmarshall Goering has resigned. What is this step supposed to mean? They say it may be health. Does the Fuehrer have to drink the cup to the dregs? What will the Occupation be like? Foreign troops in Munich, in all of Germany. It is hard to believe and yet so unbelievably sad. We, who conquered territory from the Caucasus to the North Sea and the Pyrenees, held Tripoli and the Balkans, now have the enemy on our land ready to eradicate us."

Wolfhilde died in 1993. VonKoenig said he'd gotten to know his aunt quite well, as the family had visited her in Germany and she "had been to the states quite often."

"She was very stern when she needed to be," VonKoenig said. "When she wasn't at work she was quite jovial, joking, always personable. I didn't have a chance to see her work at the hospital, but my brothers said she demanded respect and got every bit of it. She was meticulous in everything she did. She didn't do anything halfway. It was always full bore ahead."

But she never talked about the war.

"I never heard her speak of that," VonKoenig said. "Actually, I never had enough guts to broach the subject with her. I know my dad didn't like talking about it that much."

Manny's ex-wife and the boys' mother, Rosalyn Reeder, said she got to know Wolfhilde as well, as she lived with the family in Munich in 1951 and 1952, and had visited at other times as well.

"The only time I recall a distinct conversation about the war, and even this was indirect, was in 1976," Reeder said. "The three younger boys and I were over there for about 10 days. She did not take full time off from work. She would send us on excursions. She did say to me one morning, 'You will want to take the boys to Dachau, and you should. But you'll have to go on a day when I'm not with you because I'm not ready to face it.'"

Manny, who was younger than Wolfhilde, probably had the same beliefs as she did during the war, VonKoenig said.

"I think it's important to realize that anything Manny told us about his experiences was a reflection long after the fact," Reeder said. "What we have from Lulu (Wolfhilde's nickname) was exactly what was happening day by day."

Manny immigrated to the United States in 1950, became a U.S. citizen in 1956, earned a bachelor's degree in business from the University of Minnesota, and served in the U.S. Army Reserves for six years. He worked for Whirlpool for 36 years, retiring as vice president of Whirlpool do Brasil in 1989. He died in 2009 at the age of 82.

Once the diary's translation was in hand and the family realized what they had, everyone felt the diary had to be published.

"The information was just so valuable, how could you not share it?" VonKoenig said. "It's not only family history, it's part of history you are not used to reading about, from that particular perspective. We knew right away this thing had to be published."

Reeder added, "There was also this feeling on our part - why had not Wolfhilde thrown it away? Why had Manny not thrown it away? It kind of felt like it was meant to be public."

"It was obviously important to Lulu to have never thrown it away," VonKoenig said. "It was important to my dad to not throw it out, either. They both recognized that some time we would get our hands on it, they both knew it was a part of history, and maybe they wanted it not being exposed until they were both gone."

The book is available at iUniverse at $34.95 for the hardcover edition, $24.95 for soft cover, and $9.95 for the e-edition. It's also offered at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, VonKoenig said.


What is unique about this book is that it is a Diary, not a Memoir, meaning it is an unedited first hand account of day to day history as it happened, not a story written from memory many years later...


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