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




by Rosalyn Reeder

b. 1930, Brookings, South Dakota, USA –

m. 1951-1989 to Emanuel Von Koenig


            I was a junior at the University of Minnesota in September 1950 when I met Wolfhilde’s younger brother Manny. He was new on campus, literally “just off the boat” from Germany.

            By December we were sharing confidences. He said to me, “You have no idea what it feels like to have been taught one way all your life and then, suddenly, to be told by the U.S. Occupation Forces, and most of the rest of the world, that everything you believe is wrong.”

            We married the following March. No longer was he a “foreign student.” He became “one of us”—even though his people and mine had been engaged in a war to the finish just six years earlier.

            We know that recorded history is not without bias; it is written by the victors. War history is about the “victor’s side” and the “other side”; it is about “us” and “them.” Sixty years lay between 1951 and the completed translation of Wolfhilde’s Diary in 2011, during all of which time my family thought of the von König family in Munich as “us.” Ludwig and Elise von König shared with my parents the status of being grandparents to the same four sons born by Manny and me. The boys were nephews equally of his sister and of my brother and sister.

            Manny became a U.S. citizen and balanced his “other side” in the German Navy by serving in the U.S. Army Reserves. He answered everyone’s questions about his past as best he could, in ways that would fit in with our understanding of the history we have written.

When, in 2010, I first read his sister’s Diary entry for 29 April 1945, I was stunned that it said the same thing Manny had said to me in 1950. Wolfhilde’s entry reads: “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 cannot believe it.”

            My understanding of what he said and what she said differs in this way: I heard his words from someone I already considered to be “one of us.” What she wrote, and we read now, are the words of “one of them.” She wrote day by day records of what was happening on those exact days. Opinions stated are her exact perceptions at those times, long before we got to know her—when she was part of “the other side.”

            Reading the Diary, we become aware that “back in those days,” Manny—the husband and father who was always clearly “one of us”—had been, along with his Diary writing sister, “one of them.” Wolfhilde’s experiences were equally Manny’s. They were of the same family, gathering for breakfast and supper around the same table. He had told us some of what she relates, yes—but nothing like this. He told us what we were able to assimilate within our view of history, which was a view of history different from his— because our experiences and his were different from each other.

            This Diary is from the other side of history. Yet, the lives of Wolfhilde and Emanuel as we knew them, and their lives as revealed in the Diary, are not separate narratives. The nephews/sons must reconcile them into one, must understand how “they” are also “we”—because their heritage lives on both sides of World War II history.

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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