Posts Tagged ‘Anita Dittman’

Holocaust Remembrance – When Hitler Was in Power – by a Holocaust Survivor

When Hitler Was in Power – Memories of a Jewish Girl
by Anita Dittman
(From the booklet with the same name)

1939 Breslau, Germany
I was twelve years old and entering early teen years living in Nazi Germany. Often as the lights went out at night, I lapsed into self-pity and cried myself to sleep. I knew it would be a long winter with minimum food rations, crowded, substandard living quarters, and that never-ending dread of the Gestapo knock on the door. More and more Jews feared venturing into the streets.

Rising costs for tuition and school books and the increased anti-Semitism made my school life miserable and my future education questionable. In addition, home conditions were difficult. Two of Mother’s sisters had come to live with us in our one room, and we had to share the kitchen and bath with additional families.

Mother’s sisters—Aunt Friede and Aunt Elsbeth—were endlessly annoyed at my strong faith in Jesus and Mother’s growing interest in Him. Their nagging, coupled with the unbearable bedbugs in our apartment, made life a chore. I gave Aunt Elsbeth my bed and slept on a lumpy, bedbug-infested sofa, falling asleep each night while arguments rang through the room.

We hardly dared go to Pastor Hornig’s church. The macabre scenes we saw on the way caused bad dreams at night as our subconscious relived what we had seen: Jews by the hundreds being herded into trucks as they stared glassy-eyed with fear at being separated from loved ones. Since we were in a Jewish ghetto, we could look out our window almost any day and see such scenes on the street below. The more we were identified as Jewish Christians attending a Protestant church, the more free time we were given.

By fall, the war began in earnest. Germany surged ahead, optimistic because of her swift victory in Poland. The frighteningly diabolical trio of Adolf Eichmann, Reinhard Heydrich, and Heinrich Himmler was ordered to find a “final solution to the Jewish problem,” and it was generally understood that the final solution meant total extermination.

Auschwitz and Dachau, two of the more deadly camps, would strike similar terror within the Jews of Europe. Rudolf Ross was put in charge of the genocide at Auschwitz. Upon his orders, two thousand Jews would be gassed at one time. As men, women, and children were shoved together into massive “shower rooms” some were stamped on their chests with a coded number that indicated they had gold teeth. When they finally realized they weren’t taking a shower, they screamed and cried for mercy, but their cries fell on deaf ears. Amused guards watched through peepholes as they suffered and died. Hideous horror stories began to trickle out of the various camps, putting unbearable pressure on European Jews, who knew that they were all potential gas-chamber victims.

In 1939, Germans began experiencing a fear of their own as the country scurried for air-raid shelters. Bombs weren’t falling on Germany yet, but drills had begun. Homes and businesses complied with blackout regulations, and planes frequently raced across the German sky that fall, though without dropping any deadly weapons.

1940—Berlin, Germany—Away From Home
By the summer of 1940, the Führer had made himself the master of western Europe as he invaded Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, and France. They all would fall before the year’s end. It began to look as though Italy would enter the war as an ally of Germany. But as long as England remained undefeated in the war, a complete German victory was not possible in the West. British resistance stiffened that spring and summer under the incomparable leadership of Winston Churchill. Britain was sending her planes in increasing numbers over the skies of Germany. As the Germans attacked Allied cities and sunk Allied ships, Britain began to retaliate by dropping bombs, and Germany started melting beneath her burning cities.

That August we heard terrifying news: The Germans had bombed a residential section of London, and word got out that the British Royal Air Force would retaliate by hitting Berlin (where I was attending school). Thus, the war was brought home to Germany, and Berlin’s air-raid shelters became my home away from home. If life for the German people had once been an inconvenience, it now was a hellish nightmare. The siege began in Berlin, but soon the whole country would be in rubble.

When the bombing began, we children thought of the nightly air raids as nothing more than dangerous thunderstorms, during which everyone scrambled for the shelters—only basements really. At first the British hit only government centers in Berlin. Sometimes, however, the shrill sirens interrupted our light sleep as often as three times a night. And each time we would dash frantically to the shelter beneath our apartment building.

As the war got worse, so did general living conditions. Yet no true German dared to let defeat or discouragement cross his mind. It was still unthinkable. What about the thousand-year Reich? Hitler surely had things under control; this was only a temporary inconvenience. It was a small price to pay for the Fatherland and the glorious days that lay ahead for the Reich.
The air attack intensified in the fall of 1940 as Berlin received the brunt of the Allied bombing. The basement bomb shelters were almost useless against a direct hit, for a shell would race through ten stories to the basement, burying hundreds of victims. As Hitler intensified the fighting on the battlefront, the Allies intensified their reign of terror from the sky.

Life in the shelters was nerve-racking. We couldn’t move for fear of using too much oxygen. Even if bombs exploded all around us, we were careful not to utter an anti-Nazi statement because several staunch Nazis were sure to be in any given bomb shelter.

As the winter winds began to blow, I missed Mother and the familiarities of home even more. Christmas was in the air, and though Mrs. Michaelis assured me she would send me home for the holiday, I knew that at a moment’s whim she could change her mind. Then early in December, my school principal handed me a note: “Because of your non-Aryan background, you will no longer be allowed to attend classes at this school.”

Early 1941—Home Again in Breslau
Brown-shirted storm troopers were marching through the towns, terrorizing everyone and delighting in making life miserable for the Jews, whether by teasing and taunting or by acts of brutality. They ridiculed and beat Jews everywhere and randomly hauled off individuals or families to prison. Cattle cars were filled daily as trainloads of frightened Jews were shipped to secret destinations throughout the tranquil German countryside.

As I walked to the gymnasium of the school I was attending now, I saw bold signs proclaiming “No Jews Allowed” on nearly every store. Other signs warned Germans to stay away from Jews, who had been banned from theaters, parks, and all recreational areas. Everywhere I looked, I saw anti-Jewish slogans and posters. Many of the posters had the photograph of a Jew who had just been arrested for some concocted crime. In sharp contrast, flashing neon signs illuminated Hitler’s picture.
The Nazi flag was hung proudly outside of most homes in Breslau. Inside, Germans were required to have a picture of the Führer somewhere in the house. Hitler was pressing the Christian pastors to have his picture placed at the front of church altars.

Hitler’s contorted and strained voice blasted hate propaganda from the radio almost daily; he frantically blamed “international financial Jewry” for the war and warned Germans that every living Jew was an archenemy of the Reich. Jews had absolutely no rights and weren’t entitled to own property.

More and more Jews trembled behind locked doors. We learned that a brother and a sister of Mother’s had been picked up and taken to a camp. Another brother and his wife took their own lives rather than face a concentration camp ordeal. It was inevitable that the random confiscation of Jews should hit our house that winter.

Mother tried to be a peacemaker for her three quarreling sisters. However, when she attempted to help them, they would gang up on her because of her growing love for Jesus, who Pastor Hornig had told her was the Jewish Messiah. Mother could no longer deny the power of Christ in our lives. She had to talk about Him; it was a natural overflow of love. But her sisters insisted that it was Jesus’ followers who had hounded the Jews since the first century. They claimed the Nazis were all Christians on the basis of them being Gentiles and having attended Catholic or Lutheran churches. Many of those very churches had now sold out to the Führer, allowing his picture to be on their church altars. It made no sense to my aunts to worship Jesus, a phony dead man in whose name millions of Jews had been persecuted, tortured, and killed.

“But those people aren’t really Christians!” I insisted, not fully grasping the accuracy of my statement. “They just give real Christians a bad name.”

“Nonsense!” insisted Aunt Elsbeth. “All Gentiles are Christians.”

That month Bulgaria was peacefully occupied. Then Germany invaded Yugoslavia, and soon tanks would roll into Athens. Hitler gave an injunction demanding merciless harshness in the war. Whereas at one time the German code of ethics had protected civilians and property, now everyone and everything was to be destroyed by the German soldiers. But every such act of brutality only increased the Allied assault on Germany, so in the end every German paid for the Führer’s madness.

All internal affairs were being handed over to Martin Bormann, who began to carry out a ruthless assault on the Christian churches in Germany. More than ever we feared for the Hornigs and the believers at our church, for they would be prime targets for Bormann’s men because of their interest and love for the Jewish people. Gestapo agents always were planted in the church services now.

The fresh breezes of spring 1941 brought us little relief from our agony. I gave serious thought to dropping out of school because of the rampant anti-Semitism at the gymnasium. My teachers followed Nazi orders to be hard on all students who weren’t Aryans, and the other young people didn’t want to risk being my friend. I felt terribly lonely there—for a fourteen-year-old without a friend is like a violin without a bow.

One by one the apartments in our Jewish tenement were emptying as the arrests increased. In June, we heard the dreaded knock again. This time they came for Aunt Friede, who was seventy-three years old. We tried very hard to swallow our tears again, for we knew it would only upset Aunt Friede more to see us crying over her. Again, no explanation was given and no destination revealed.

A great part of the terrifying fear related to the arrests was the unknown factor of the prisoner’s destination. Was it jail or a concentration camp? Was it a work camp or a gas chamber or a firing squad? One seldom knew until sometimes family members received a postcard from prison or perhaps word was smuggled out that the person had been killed. The fate of millions would never be known. They would simply become statistics.

One by one or all at once, families disappeared and were separated in the ordeal of Nazi Germany in 1941. We never saw Aunt Käte, Aunt Friede, or Aunt Elsbeth again.

Hitler’s hunger for power and blood had no end. Next he invaded Russia in an effort to eliminate the “Eastern menace” of Bolshevism. The Führer didn’t realize, of course, that this was a fatal miscalculation. A world war was now inevitable. America pledged economic aid, and the Allies started fighting back even harder.

Burning synagogue - Photo from Trapped in Hitler's Hell by Anita Dittman - US Holocaust Museum - Used with permission

Burning synagogue in Germany – Photo from Trapped in Hitler’s Hell by Anita Dittman – from US Holocaust Museum – Used with permission

Hitler was sure the Russian campaign would be swift, a fair weather war. Thus the Russian winter became as much his enemy as the Russian soldier. More than 750,000 German soldiers would die from the winter elements as they became bogged down in their advance on Moscow. Because of the devastating defeat, the Jews would suffer even more and be made to pay for Hitler’s mistake.

Only one synagogue was left in Breslau after the burnings of 1938 and 1939. Recently it had been made into a prison for Jews who were waiting for processing before being sent off to the camps.

After school one day, I made my way to the crumbling synagogue. During the long walk in the December cold, I considered the paradox of Nazi Germany. As Christmas approached, Germans celebrated the birth of Jesus; yet they worshiped the godless Nazis. The peace, joy, love, and hope that are synonymous with Christmas were strangely muted in Hitler’s Germany, but few gave up the futile dream of the marvelous thousand-year Reich. Few were ready to allow the idea of defeat to enter their minds, even though smoke from burning Berlin rose five miles high in the sky and uncounted thousands of German soldiers were dying on the Russian battlefront. Routinely the Russians announced the names of their captured German prisoners over the airwaves of underground radio stations. The prisoners’ relatives knew they would never see their husbands or brothers again when they heard their names; the camps in Siberia never sent anyone home.

1942
Hitler’s attention was focused mainly on the Russian front in the spring of 1942, though the Africa corps drove further and further east toward the British-held Middle East. The Americans joined England’s Royal Air Force in dropping bombs on German cities. In the coming weeks and months, Cologne, Rostock, Lubeck, and Berlin would become piles of rubble. But, thankfully, the planes still avoided Breslau.

That spring brought both the bitter and the sweet. Our good friends the Sandbergs were finally taken away. We sorrowed as we remembered the longing of their hearts to be reunited with their sons, who had fled to England before the war.

That May I turned fifteen, and I finished my confirmation classes with Pastor Hornig. Mother scraped a few cents together to make me a lovely white dress. Pastor Hornig tested me in front of the entire congregation at St. Barbara’s; it was one of the highlights of my life. I was thrilled to be able to please Pastor Hornig and Mother as I gave all the right answers in my test. Mother looked at me proudly from the audience. My eyes flashed between Pastor Hornig and Mother as I drank in their looks of approval and praise. This was the best gift I could give them.

My eyes also saw an unfamiliar face in the congregation. We learned later that it was another Nazi spy. It was no secret to anyone in Breslau that Pastor Hornig aided Jews—both believers and unbelievers. Gestapo agents followed him frequently and planted themselves in the church services in order to monitor any anti-Nazi statements.

Shortly after this, I was handed another familiar note in school, telling me not to return to classes because of my Jewish heritage.

About the same time that spring, Reinhard Heydrich died. He was one-third of the Eichmann-Himmler-Heydrich trio—the masterminds behind the Jewish persecution. The blood of thousands—perhaps millions of Jews was on his hands.

To this day, the Nazi Holocaust continues to prevent many Jewish people from believing in God. Satan uses it as the biggest stumbling block for the numerous Jews who can’t accept that a loving, all-powerful God would allow such a horrible thing to happen. Granted, millions perished, yet God also allowed millions to survive.

The Reich suffered a terrible defeat at Stalingrad as the Russians captured 220,000 German prisoners in February 1943. Solemn music was played for three days on the radio as all Germans mourned the loss. At last, Germany was experiencing the type of pain she had been inflicting on others.

We had heard that defeat was also occurring in North Africa, and the air war against Germany was merciless now. A layer of smoke blanketed the land as Hamburg and other cities were being hit day and night. A concentrated Allied attack on German U-boats caused the Germans to lose the battle in the Atlantic.

Finally, the Allies demanded the unconditional surrender of the Reich, but for Hitler that was unthinkable. Instead, he declared that an attitude of defeatism would be punishable by death, and the empty propaganda that promised a glorious day for Germany continued to be screamed over the airwaves.

How much longer would the German people believe in the illusion of the glorious Fatherland? How much longer would they follow the mad pied-piper and trust him with their sons, fathers, and husbands, many of whom would never leave the Siberian prisoner-of-war camps? How much longer would they be blindly obedient to the Führer, who admittedly had no compassionate thought for a human life? He even willingly sacrificed his own German people if they weren’t perfect specimens of the Aryan race. When would the prayers of Christians around the world hasten the demise of the German demagogue and strangle Satan’s attempt to bring only sorrow and sighing into the world? How much longer, God? We knew that one swift blow of God’s judgment could end the despair, and we believed that real Christians around the world surely had calluses on their knees from praying for the nightmare to end.

1943
As winter turned into the spring of 1943, we heard that the Allies had won the war in Africa, which gave Mother and me a surge of hope. But true to the pattern, as the Reich suffered, our supervisor became more strict and rigid, allowing hardly any conversation during our long workday. Only hungry rats scurrying along the beams above us broke the monotony.

Rumors began to fly about some of the Reich’s concentration camps being liberated in the coming year. The camps now held millions of Jews from Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the Balkans.

However, our dreams were suddenly shattered one balmy spring day when we heard about the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto. Five-hundred-thousand Jews had been herded into the ghetto to starve to death. Finally the Germans went in to kill them or crowd them into death camps; however, the starving but determined Jews fought back with everything they had. Then Hitler sent in three thousand more troops to quickly take over the ghetto with tanks, armored cars, artillery, and flame-throwers. Only five-hundred Jews lived to tell of the annihilation of the ghetto and its people.

That week we could hardly speak to one another without choking back tears of grief and anger; even within the purest heart, bitterness raged toward the Nazis. Our faith was shaken and our hope dimmed. The atheists among us cursed, while the Jewish unbelievers withdrew into themselves. The religious Jews prayed harder and asked why. We Christians comforted one another and realized that some answers would be available only in heaven.

1944
The Allies landed in Normandy. Rumor had it that everyone who had even one Jewish grandparent was now going to be picked up in a last-ditch effort to wipe out the Jewish race. Hitler would make the Jews pay, of course, for his mistakes in the war, a pattern that was never broken.

The stories from the camps told of massive gassings and shootings. Following a gassing, the bodies would be cremated in giant ovens. Giant smokestacks coughed out soot from burning bodies, blanketing most of Europe. Fellow prisoners, or in some cases family members, would then be ordered to break up the remaining bones and bury them in mass graves.

The worst horrors took place in Auschwitz, from which few ever escaped or lived to tell their stories. It was estimated that almost three million already had perished there, and at the end of the war it would be learned that eighty percent of those sent to Auschwitz died.

Antia today

Anita today

The most gruesome story leaked out early in 1944 and would later be documented. Hitler informed Himmler that it was not enough for the Jews to die; they must die in agony, for they were only germs, not people. Himmler was ordered to devise a plan to make thousands of Jews die a horrible death. He got the idea of placing Jewish prisoners in freight cars having their floors coated with a layer of dehydrated calcium oxide. The substance caused terrible burns, and prisoners often suffered for days before dying an awful death in the freight cars, which were left in a secluded place.

Hitler had only to whisper and ten thousand prisoners would die that day.

The human mind and body could not logically withstand such pressures and uncertainties, especially if a person had a loved one in a camp or if he himself was on the Nazi blacklist. Added to the other horrors was the constant threat that a death-camp experience awaited him after a harsh midnight knock on his door. The Nazi blacklist included more than just Jews. Christians who were suspected of hiding or aiding Jews were on it, as well as anyone who uttered an anti-Nazi sentiment. A time would come for all of us to be hauled off to death camps unless the Allies—with God’s help—could rescue us.

To order copies of this article in booklet format ($1.95),  click here.

Holocaust Survivors Anita Dittman and Diet Eman Turning 88 and 95 This Month – Still Sharing Their Stories

Lighthouse Trails authors Anita Dittman and Diet Eman both survived the Holocaust, and both women are still alive. In fact, Anita is about to turn 88, and Diet just turned 95! We are thankful to the Lord that He has allowed these Christian women (Anita is also Jewish) to live so long and testify of what they witnessed during Hitler’s reign of terror.

Anita Dittman

Anita Today

Anita Dittman was twelve years old in 1939, living in Germany with her sister and Jewish mother. Her Aryan father had by then abandoned them to avoid the cost of being married to a Jew. Anita’s mother was able to get the oldest daughter out of the country on a visa, but before her and Anita’s visas arrived, the borders were closed, and they were trapped in Hitler’s hell. Before the war ended, both Anita and her mother were sent to Hitler’s camps where they miraculously survived. Today, Anita lives in Minnesota and still speaks to groups about her experience. She recently received the Heroine of the Faith Crown of Life Award and is featured in a new film put out by WorldNetDaily. She and radio host Jan Markell write about Anita’s experience in Trapped in Hitler’s Hell. You can read more about her on her website at: http://www.hitlershell.com.

DietEman

Diet Eman today

Diet Eman was 20 years old when Hitler invaded Holland. As she and other Christians witnessed the persecution of Jewish families by the Nazis, Diet became involved in the Christian resistance movement hiding Jews to save their lives. Because of these efforts and the efforts of other Christian families, like the ten Booms (also in Holland), many Jewish people were rescued. Eventually, Diet was arrested, and by the end of the war, most of those working with her had died. Since the war, Diet has shared her story with countless groups and audiences. She is the recipient of the Righteous Among the Nations Award and is featured in two documentaries Hidden Heroes and The Reckoning. Diet writes about her experience in her autobiography Things We Couldn’t Say. You can read more about her on her website at: http://www.thingswecouldntsay.com.

It is our prayer at Lighthouse Trails that both these women will be able to continue telling others of their Holocaust experiences for some time to come. Today, there are some who try to say the Holocaust never happened or at least not to the extreme that is claimed. Multitudes of photos and documents and the witness of survivors like Diet and Anita are sure proof that the Holocaust did indeed occur. Satan hates the Jews and hates Israel. But the Bible proclaims that God has an everlasting covenant with them. With only 14 million Jews on the earth today, let us pray for the Jewish people and for Israel—both for their protection and also that many may come to know and receive Jesus Christ as their Messiah.

The following short slideshow is some of the photos from Things We Couldn’t Say and Trapped in Hitler’s Hell (these photos are copyrighted material; used with permission from the author’s personal collections and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Related Information:

Holocaust Survivor Booted from Public Schools

Common Core School Assignment: Was Holocaust Real or ‘Merely a Political Scheme?’

Remembering the Holocaust – NEW BOOKLET TRACT – Who Really Killed Jesus?

2 Videos: Dutch Holocaust Resistance Worker – Diet Eman (yes, it really happened); and Hitler: “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the Future”

Teachers drop the Holocaust to avoid offending Muslims

An “Enlightened” Race?

 

 

Holocaust Survivor Booted from Public Schools

By Lee Hohmann
WND News

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Anita Dittman has been speaking about the Holocaust for more than three decades, telling everyone who will listen of her survival and how Jesus Christ helped her escape the trap that was ‘Hitler’s hell.”

She has reached thousands through her book, “Trapped in Hitler’s Hell,” co-authored with fellow Minnesotan Jan Markell.

And visions of that hell would come back to haunt her at night.

“For years, those dreams would not go away,” she said.

At 87, she still speaks to audiences large and small, sometimes several times a month, recounting the story of a happy, 5-year-old Jewish girl when Hitler came to power in 1933 and how life changed over the next 12-and-a-half years living under Nazi rule. She would emerge on the other side of the concentration camps as a young woman of devout Christian faith, severely scarred but full of powerful stories.

For years, she kept those stories bottled up inside. It wasn’t until she reached her early 50s that they started coming out.

“The response I get today is as enthusiastic as ever,” she said in a telephone interview from her home in Minnesota.

This week’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where 1.1 million Jews met their death, gave her cause to reflect once again on life under the Nazis.

Her message is different now, she says, much different than when she first went public in 1978 with her experience as a Holocaust survivor. Click here to continue reading.

Excerpts of Trapped in Hitler’s Hell by Anita Dittman/Jan Markell:

Table of Contents and Chapter One

Chapter 8

HOPE IN THE MIDST OF HOLOCAUST (from chapter 9 & 10)

Freedom … To Die

 

 

Freedom … To Die

Trapped-In-Hitler-s-HellThe following is from Holocaust survivor Anita Dittman’s book Trapped in Hitler’s Hell. Anita was a young Christian Jew in Germany when World War II began. It was her faith in Christ, and the Lord’s mercy, that sustained her during the war years, but she (along with all other Jews in Germany at that time) was stripped of something that most North Americans have always had … freedom.

From Trapped in Hitler’s Hell

“They’re here!” I gasped as I burst through the door. “The passports and visas are here.”

“Oh, thank You, Jesus,” Mother exclaimed softly. Even my sister, Hella, showed unusual emotion. Mother tore open the envelope and looked at the enclosed official forms, but her wonderful anticipation diminished as she read them. Her joy turned to a painful realization that only one of us had received a visa and a passport.

“Only Hella’s papers are here,” Mother sighed. “But they insist that your’s and mine will be here by the end of August. At least Hella can go free, Anita. We must rejoice for her and trust God some more for you and me. We can meet Hella in London.”

“Mother, Jesus won’t let us down,” I replied. “Pastor Hornig says we please Him the most when we have faith in Him. See what an opportunity we have to have faith in Jesus, Mother?”

The corners of her mouth smiled weakly as she set Hella’s paper aside. “I’m learning to trust Him, Anita.”

Since Hella would leave on August 31st, we frantically made preparations for her departure. Pastor Hornig gave her some money, surely taking food away from his family’s table. We wondered if God was delivering Hella first because her faith was so small that she could not endure any more waiting.

A faint signal on our radio from an underground station told us Hitler was on the move and might invade Poland any day. During the week, we’d been having mock blackouts in Breslau, which according to Mother spelled war. Without a doubt there would be a countdown from freedom for us before the war began. Only our trust in Jesus kept us calm.

August was slipping away so quickly, with no word yet. Each day’s mail brought only disappointment. Thus, the day of Hella’s departure produced a mixture of emotions: We were happy for her, but also conscious that our own papers had not arrived. As we bid her farewell, our tears of joy for Hella were mingled with tears of fear and confusion.

“Hella, you must thank Jesus for your freedom,” I insisted. “He has worked a miracle for you.” Hella nodded, but her heart had not mellowed toward Christ.

“We will meet you in London soon,” Mother said as she embraced Hella, “and our prayers will be with you every day. Pastor Hornig’s contact in London can be trusted. You do whatever they say, but don’t send any mail to us here in Germany. We’ll probably meet you within a month.”

The antiquated train gave a sharp whistle. Our goodbyes were short, for we were sure we would soon be reunited. Pushing forward to board the train were hundreds of frightened, fleeing people–people thankful for a new lease on life, but riddled with fear for loved ones being left behind–sometimes their whereabouts being unknown.

We all embraced one more time, and Hella turned and boarded, waving an enthusiastic goodbye to us. I took Mother’s hand as we watched the rest of the crowd board. A few minutes later the train jerked forward, then it chugged away until it was out of sight, but we could see its thick, black smoke dotting the horizon.

The next day Germany invaded Poland. Also on that day the German borders were closed, and Germany thereafter refused all mail from England. Our visas and passports were to come from England; they were in the mail but never made it to us. Two days later, on September 3, 1939, England and France declared war on Germany.

Mother and I were trapped in Hitler’s hell. But the trap had begun to close for us six years earlier, when I was a small child. . . .

The dance was beautifully performed by six-year-old Anita Dittman. Her skill and grace at ballet far exceed her years. Nevertheless, we Germans no longer wish to be entertained by a Jew.

Mother read the review to me from a morning paper she had found lying on the street. Her words, though spoken in hushed tones, reverberated throughout the house. They fell on my unbelieving ears and caused an instant flood of tears–tears of a child too young to grasp the meaning of such a word as anti-Semitism. All I knew was that my dream of growing up to become the world’s best ballet dancer had just been shattered. It didn’t matter that we didn’t understand why we were being persecuted. Jews, along with communists and other anti-Nazis, were not allowed to question it. Soon we would have only one freedom: to die. (taken from chapter one, Trapped in Hitler’s Hell)

Today Anita (87) lives in Minnesota and still speaks to groups about her experience during WWII.

‘Government became their god’

By Jim Fletcher
WND Reporter

Anita Dittman learned about fear and courage early, during a momentous period in history.

“I was 5-and-a-half when Hitler came,” she says. “My mother said, ‘We’ll have to register.’ I asked her, ‘What about me?’ She told me that I’d have to register as a Jew. ‘Thank God,’ I told her. I wanted to be identified that way, even as a child.”

It was 1933.

Within 18 months, Dittman would become something of an oddity in her Jewish community: a believer in Jesus Christ.

Dittman’s father, a German Jew, abandoned his family in the interest of self-survival. So Dittman and her mother not only were forced to scramble for basic sustenance; they had to survive the malevolent forces sweeping through their country.

It was the young Anita’s new-found faith that sustained her, which she outlines in her book, “Trapped in Hitler’s Hell: A Young Jewish Girl Discovers the Messiah’s Faithfulness in the Midst of the Holocaust.” It is a story she told her friend, Jan Markell, almost four decades ago. Markell, founder of Olive Tree Ministries, put pen to paper as the two women bonded through shared experience. Markell’s family had fled Europe, as well.

“In 1977, I was just starting out in ministry,” recalls Markell. “I was very green. Anita was having surgery and her pastor, while visiting her, asked about her story. When it became clear Anita wanted to share her story with the world, the pastor told her he knew someone who could help. We spent several months writing, and it was an emotional time. I realized that if my Russian relatives had not arrived at Ellis Island … well, I’d always had a burden for the topic.” Click here to continue reading.

 

Holocaust Remembrance Week – Lighthouse Trails Remembers For One Decade

starHolocaustIn 2004, two years after Lighthouse Trails began, we signed a contract with Holocaust survivor Anita Dittman (and co-author Jan Markell) for the book Trapped in Hitler’s Hell. It was the beginning of a so-far ten-year remembrance of the Holocaust,  Since Anita’s book (which we published in 2005), we have also signed a publishing contract with Holocaust Dutch resistance worker Diet Eman and one with the Corrie ten Boom Fonds for one of Corrie’s books (Corrie was also part of Dutch resistance to Hitler).  We have since added a number of DVDs, books, and booklet tracts to our “Remembering the Holocaust” collection. You may see that collection by clicking here.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of when the Holocaust began. Many young people today don’t even know what the Holocaust is. And shockingly, there are those who deny it ever took place. If your children or grandchildren do not know what the Holocaust is, we hope you will consider sharing with them the books and DVDs Lighthouse Trails has made available. It’s a time in history that should never be forgotten, and it’s an event that could easily repeat itself one day.

Below is a 10-minute clip of Anita Dittman’s testimonial DVD where she spoke in front of a live audience:

December 25th in a German Labor Camp during WWII

By Anita Dittman (Holocaust Survivor)

December 25th  in a German Labor Camp during WWII:

Antia today

Antia today

We prayed that God would miraculously sustain our strength; each day our food rations diminished so the German soldiers on the battlefronts could receive more food. Shortly after all of us Christians had prayed for physical strength, the neighboring farmers again rallied for us. Risking their lives, they smuggled us sausage, bread, and cheese and told us to eat the nourishing mushrooms in the forest where we cut trees. God seemed to pack a thousand calories in each tiny mushroom and bite of bread as we who trusted Jesus were given physical and spiritual sustenance.

Two horrible realities faced us women in December: winter and the traitors among us. To make life more comfortable for themselves,some women were reporting others to the guards for such things as conversations, attitudes, or anti-Nazi sentiment–anything that would make their lives more comfortable. Many of them spent the night with the guards and were given preferential treatment.

As the winter winds increased, everyone’s spirits sank. Our uniforms were terribly inadequate, and many of us were sent clothes from home. Father sent me some warm socks, gloves, and a jacket. If we worked long enough and hard enough, we could keep ourselves relatively warm on the work line. But marching to and from the work area was difficult because the wind raced through our clothing.

Again we anxiously awaited the whistle when the horse cart would bring us warm, lumpy soup. But it tasted awful, and usually it was cold by the time it reached us. The chunks in the soup were like tree bark. I watched Gunther one day as he took his bowl of soup to a mock grave. Pouring the soup in the grave, he covered it with dirt. Then he took a large stone and placed it over the grave site. On the stone he wrote: “Hier ruhet still una unvergessen, unser heutiges Mittagessen.” (“Here rests, still and unforgotten, today’s menu.”)

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailJust before Christmas I met another beautiful believer: Christian Risel. We met on the work line while cutting trees and, in our own silent way, quickly fell in love. Though I loved Rudi, Wolfgang, Gerhard, and Gunther, the love in my heart for Christian was different. A little older than I, he was strong and handsome in spite of the months of labor and deprivation. His eyes virtually sparkled, while the eyes of others in the camp were glassy and dazed. He had a smile when everyone else had a negative word, for he loved everyone in a special way. He even had Christian compassion for the Nazis. But he loved me the most. Of course no time was allowed for romance in the camp. It was too cold to stay outside much in our thin clothing, and we couldn’t go inside each other’s quarters. But we cut trees together frequently and got to know one another better. Each day that we were together, our love was reaffirmed.

“Someday, Anita, we will be gloriously free and happy once again,” Christian said as his axe cut into a thick pine tree. “We will have money to spend and food to eat, and we will have loved ones surrounding us. We’ll never have to dread another knock on our door. Do you believe that too, Anita?”

“I do. God reaffirms it every day. But I would rather be locked away and have Jesus than to be my sister, Hella, safe in the free world but denying the very One who gave her freedom.”

“Nothing happens without a purpose, doesn’t it?” Christian said. “What do you suppose is our ultimate purpose for being trapped in Nazi Germany? I think it is to glorify God in the end. Do you think that is true?”

“I do, Christian.”

“Anita, do you know what day it is today?”

“No.”

“It is Christmas Eve. I have a surprise for you and the other Christians in the camp.”

“Why have you waited so long to tell me, Christian?”

“Because it was just confirmed at lunchtime.” Christian’s eyes really sparkled with excitement now. “Mr. Anders has given me permission to take all the Christians to a Christmas Eve service in Ostlinde tonight! Of course a guard will accompany us, but he will be exposed to the gospel too.”

“Christian, you don’t mean it! A real Christmas Eve service. We must spread the news. Oh, it is another miracle of God.” To war-weary Christian prisoners who loved Jesus, this was the best news in months, perhaps years. But the camp’s unbelievers had no time for our happiness; most of them felt no special comfort each day as we believers did. Whether they were jealous or skeptical, they preferred that we keep to ourselves, which only drew us closer together.

Twenty of us trudged over the snow-covered hills and meadows that night to a little country church at the edge of Ostlinde. The snow was falling lightly, and both melted snowflakes and tears dampened my face as Christian took my hand. “This will be the most meaningful Christmas I’ve ever had,” I told him. “It shows God’s very special love for us. It tells me He cares for us and that we’ll be all right in the end.”

“The birth of Jesus must have been like this,” Christian said quietly. “He was poor and persecuted, and He was misunderstood and rejected, yet He always forgave. We have to forgive too, Anita, even the Nazis.”

That night we huddled in the little church with a hundred or more of the farmers and townspeople. We sang Christmas carols and praised the Lord until well after midnight. As we read the Christmas story, we were reassured that Jesus knew our every ache because He also had been a man and had experienced human grief. In the dim candlelight we all gathered at the altar on our knees and prayed for Germany and our separated families; the guard stood careful watch in the doorway. Then we trudged home in the moonlight, for the snow had stopped falling. No one spoke a word; we all were savoring every minute of this blessed Christmas Eve.

[A]s we headed back to the camp over the snowdrifts, in the stillness of that dark, dark night, nobody spoke. Our silent communication conveyed a oneness that superseded all verbal expression. Saturated with the restful music and with gratitude to God, I sank into a deep and restful sleep on my straw mattress. (Anita Dittman was 17 years old when this story took place. Today, she is 79 and lives in Minnesota. For more about her story, see Trapped in Hitler’s Hell)


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