A follower of my blog recently alerted me to this wonderful video which is now available on YouTube. Most will be very familiar with the story of Ernst Zundel and quite possibly with his wife Ingrid through her years of work in his support during his many years of incarceration both in Canada and later in Germany. Some may also have read her books. But most, I believe, would not know very much about her personal history, and all that she went through during the war and in the aftermath. That includes me too, and so I was blown away by what she presented in this interview conducted by Ernst back in 1998.
I believe this is a very fitting follow up too to my last post concerning the rapes committed by the American “liberators” against French and German women in the post-war era. Ingrid’s story, however, concerns what happened on the eastern frontiers, it is an epic story and testimony seldom heard; that of a German victim and survivor of WWII War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. I found it fascinating and moving, and had to watch this twice.
During the during the second viewing, I made notes and transcribed some segments which I will include below, as to my knowledge, this testimony exists no where else in written form in the public domain. Ingrid, to my knowledge, does not give interviews radio either, so I believe it is all the more important to document and share this. I am also including the wonderful introduction written by my friend Karl, with his permission. But some of you, might also need some more historical background information for what Ingrid presented in the interview, to put all of her information into context. I found this one webpage at Geocurrents.info that I thought wold serve that purpose well, regarding the history of the Volga Germans and Mennonites in Russia and the Ukraine, but I will just offer a portion of that here and a link to the full article.
“…Who are the Volga Germans? How did they come to live in Central Russia, and later in Central Asia? This post examines the twisted history of yet another group victimized by Stalin’s deportations.
The first German colonists—some 30,000 people—came to settle in Russia in 1763 at the invitation of Catherine the Great, herself of German descent. The majority of the early German colonists were refugees from the central German states, such as Hessen and the Palatinate, ravaged first by the Thirty Years’ War, which ended in 1648, then by the continuing confrontation between Catholic Austria and Protestant Prussia, and finally by the Seven Years’ War, which began in 1754. By 1763, the average inhabitant of Central Europe, regardless of religious or political allegiance, was under an extreme tax burden, constant threat of injury to person or property, and routine conscription into military service for one side or the other. Thus, the climate for emigration was ripe.
Here is my friend Karl’s introduction to the video:
“This whole discovery of the history of the Mennonite German community into which Ingrid Rimland was born, is so fascinating, that I’ve been eager to research further into it. Her story is so enriching and poignant, and the numbers of fine books she has written; all this needs to be well presented to the public. I think she is not well enough known, and she is deserving of much praise.
For me, Ingrid represents the best in German women : strength of character, natural beauty, sincerity and very straightforward speech. She is a magnificent woman, to be sure, who has led an astounding life courage and determination to live. And now, fortunately we have this amazing interview with her made by Ernst Zundel (one of the greatest heroes of the movement for the real Truth of German history!) in 1998. It is a fascinating story from beginning to end. I was deeply moved and brought to tears numerous moments (as was Ernst himself as he listened to Ingrid’s testimony), as I soon realised the enormity of the crimes committed against the peaceful German community which had been settled in Russia and the Ukraine (by invitation) for a couple hundred years already. It would be wonderful if we had hundreds of such interviews with the courageous people like Ingrid Rimland, to balance the History against those numerous “holocaust” interviews documented by Spielberg & Co.
Finally, all of the books written by Ingrid Rimland, her Trilogy “Lebensraum“, “Furies and the Flame” and “The Wanderers“, and her other books on child psychology, are also very worthwhile reading.” ~ Karl
VIDEO: Ernst Zundel interviews Ingrid Rimland (1998)
“They (the Russians) took every single male out of our village (in the Ukraine), aged 14 and over. They all went. They were all exiled…A few saved themselves and after the Germans arrived and they later returned, but most of the men were gone and never heard from again. They were gone.”
“We did not know that the Germans were coming. We didn’t have mass communication as we do now. There may have been newspapers but I don’t remember a radio in Russia. We knew there was a war on. The Germans came and it was a very great surprise. By that time…in a great hurry, what was left us in the German villages was herded into the cattle trains and shipped to Siberia, and quite a few villages really disappeared that way. And it was really just a matter of, not hours but minutes, before our turn in Halbstadt came…Half of Halbstadt was exiled. And we were already sitting at the railroad station, this was September 1941, when the German Army overran the Ukraine, and stopped the exiling, stopped the trains. And it was for us as if the Lord had sent us the Angels. Here were people who spoke German, High German, who stopped the terror that had been upon us for 25 years. Who came and opened the Churches for us and said you can have all of the services you want! My mother never stopped talking about the wonderful 2 years we had with the Germans, when the German Army came and took over the villages….We were absolutely convinced that the Germans had come to save us from Communism. And never was there any reason for us to change our minds. Why should we? The Germans were heroes in our eyes. Of course, in 1943 the story changed as the Germans were pushed back, and in that push-back, they moved us with them …what was left of us, and we went willingly. There was no moving at gun point. Had we stayed back, the Communists would have taken us and executed us, or shipped us to Siberia. So we very willingly retreated with the Germans.”
“And of course, once the Winter came, it became harder and harder. We had to often stay over night in strange houses. The Army would confiscate houses to put the refugees there. The Army protected us to the end. The Army never ever let us down, to the end. So somehow, through the difficult years and that Winter, we moved first into Romania, then into Poland, and then eventually what we called ‘Das Altreich’ (The Old German Empire)”
“Before we came into Poland, Germany had trains set up to specifically to naturalize the Ethnic Germans, and make them proper Germans. And there was this huge train with different compartments, and we were put through ..almost a sieve to make sure that we were real Germans And I remember going from place to place and being questioned about our ancestry and our language …did we understand what National Socialism was all about? Could we sing the songs? Yes indeed we could. We sang til our heart’s content. And so eventually we came out at the other other end, and as I remember it, we were given a document, and we were declared proper Germans.. That happened even before we even situated in Poland…It was like an immigration center on rails, And every one of us was taken into the ‘Altreich’ as proper Germans.”
“Now you have to realize that at that time, Germany did not need refugees. They were struggling, they were starving, they had nothing. They took us in as family. And they put us up, and the Mennonites have never forgotten that, at least not that generation, how welcome we were in Germany, when Germany was at that besieged by 51 countries. They were struggling for their lives. And they took us in as their own.”
“Delousing: We are taken and put into what looked like a great big bathroom, because they had these great big shower things at the top, and we were put onto benches, we were all stark naked, old and young, of course the sexes were separated, but we all had to sit in a row, and then somehow, and I don’t know how, but somehow the rumours started, that they were going to gas us! I have to tell you this, this is really true, what happened! And what happened is that they rained, from the shower head, they rained soap and water on us. And the reason for that was, that we had to be deloused! we were so full of lice! Our hair was cut, and they rained soap and water on us. I do not remember if there were any towels … but this happened prior, you see we had to be clean to be naturalized, so this happened prior to… and I remember how embarrassed these people were to sit there stark naked. So when I hear about these shower heads and the Holocaust and all of that, I know exactly what that was, that was soap and water raining down on us to delouse us. That’s what it was. Where that story came from that those were dangerous shower heads, that must have come out of the Russian propaganda in those years because I remember it very clearly, that there was a rumour, that we were going to be ‘done in’. [And so] we were afraid of this procedure….The way I remember it, it was at least 30 x 30. I must have been built for that purpose, to wash us down like dogs…. The same with the cutting of hair. We were all shave bald in order to stop the lice….Everybody had lice during the war. This was just common knowledge that everybody had lice, and so of we had to be deloused, and then put into into Germany.”
“Well the cattle cars was pretty much the same story because, we considered ourselves lucky if we could ride in a cattle car. Of course, because then we did not depend on horses, we did not have to walk on foot. That was luxury to ride a cattle car. And yes they were crammed full of people and yes it was very difficult, you know, to travel like that. Often you could not sit. You had to stand because they were crammed full. Often there was no water and there was no food. This is how it was in those years. People were hanging on those cattle cars. When you see those pictures, that could have been us. We were like that… That means nothing! The same when you see the bunk-beds My goodness we were lucky if we had bunk-beds where we could sleep at night. It meant we did not have to sleep outside in the snow. Those pictures mean nothing…It was our fate as Germans, and frankly we never really heard much about the persecution of the Jews. We knew that there were executions happening in Russia. But in Germany-proper, I do not remember a single time that I heard any of these stories ever.
“By January 20th (1945), the front was breaking and the Russians were coming, and we had to flee. So we left everything behind and scrambled out of Poland on this horrific trek into Germany…By that time people were practically killing to get on the trains. We knew the Russians were coming. We knew a blood bath was coming in their wake, and everybody was trying to struggle away from it. I remember boarding it and being pushed onto a train and somehow the four of stayed together..it’s a miracle. We left on the train, but not for very long, and then we had to keep on going by wagon. And that was the coldest Winter in a century. The 1944-45 Winter was incredibly cold. And we had to travel that entire stretch by wagon, and later on, on floor. So we made it through great hardships…and we made it to Greifenhain, just barely, and then the Russian front, the Red Army front, overran us again.
“It was horrendous. The story of what happened when the Russians came has never properly been told in America. An avalanche of rape and murder was unleashed upon the (German) civilian people that spared hardly anybody.”
“The reason we left Germany was a philosophical and emotional reason. My mother saw what was happening to Germany after the war. That systemically anything that had been clean, decent and holy,in our eyes, was made filthy, dirty, perverted and suspect. And she said, and I remember this clearly, I will not raise my children in that kind of Germany!”
“The German people do not have a comprehensive story of what happened to them, and that is much more true of American-Germans. They say that one out of four Americans is of German descent, but what do they know of their history? Nothing. Their sense of history is like an unkempt garden, and they don’t know anymore where they came from. And it is time that they have their own “Roots” book, and “Gone with the Wind” book, because that’s what this is.”
“Our history has been stolen from us, words have been stolen from us, concepts have been stolen from us, and ‘Lebensraum’ is such a concept. ‘Lebensraum’ is not, in and of itself a bad word. It means living space. It means the freedom to breathe, to grow, to become. the right to be a nation. It does not mean brutality against other races.”