“By appointing Hitler Chancellor of the Reich you have handed over our sacred German fatherland to one of the greatest demagogues of all time. I prophesy to you this evil man will plunge our Reich into the abyss and will inflict immeasurable woe on our nation. Further generations will curse you in your grave for this action.”
Former general Erich Ludendorff in a telegram to President Paul von Hindenburg
For seventeen-year-old Christine Bölz, the war began with a surprise invitation to the Bauermans’ holiday party. On that brilliant fall day in 1938, it was impossible to imagine the horrors to come. The air was as crisp and sweet as the crimson apples hanging in the orchards that lined the gentle foothills of the Kocher River valley. The sun was shining in a blue September sky quilted with tall, cottony clouds that swept rolling shadows over the countryside. It was quiet in the hills, except for the scolding jays and scurrying squirrels as they gathered seeds and nuts for the coming winter. Wood smoke and the mossy scent of spruce intermingled to produce a smoldering, earthy aroma that, despite the fall chill in the air, gave the morning depth and texture.