Austria welcomed Hitler, speaker says
BEAVER CITY, Nebraska -- Kitty Werthmann was 12 years old when Hitler assumed power in Austria. He didn't roll in with tanks and guns. Instead, the people of Austria voted him in with 98 percent of the vote.
This same Kitty Werthmann will speak at 7 p.m. at the Beaver City Community Building on Wednesday Oct. 31. The public and surrounding communities are invited to attend.
Austria was in a deep depression in 1938. Unemployment had soared to more than 30 percent, inflation was at 25 percent and farmers went broke and lost their land.
"The banks were reclaiming their farms and businesses were closing up one by one," Kitty says. "They couldn't afford to pay interest. It was not unusual for as many as 30 people a day to knock on the door of our home asking for a bowl of soup and a slice of bread."
Kitty says the Communist Party and Hitler's party, the National Socialist Party, were fighting in the streets.
When asked why Austrians would vote for a man such as Hitler to lead their country, Kitty explains that the Austrian people had heard things were much better in Hitler's Germany. Besides, they were just a border apart and they spoke the same language and shared the same culture. Why not?
"He didn't talk like a monster. "We didn't hear anything bad, about him arresting people and persecuting people. We thought he was a great leader. We got a new government where no one was elected, they were all appointed. We didn't question it."
"We got free radios to listen to. Once we had those, Hitler nationalized the radio stations," she said. "We were told if we listened to foreign broadcasting we were an enemy of the state. It was the death penalty. Then he nationalized the banks and our education system."
When asked why Kitty spends her time speaking around the country, she explains that it is so important for people understand what socialism is. Once people understand that, they begin to realize how important the freedoms we have in America are.
The Beaver City American Legion and some of the churches will provide coffee and cookies for those attending. Individuals attending who have served in the military will also be recognized at the beginning of the event.
"Kitty so appreciates that the United States military came and liberated her people. She loves to meet and thank those who have served in other conflicts as well," says Kathy Wilmot. "I had the privilege of meeting Kitty several years ago and have asked her to come to Nebraska. This is a rare opportunity and I am hopeful the people of Furnas County will come and give her a warm welcome."
Those needing more information may contact Kathy at 308 340-3987. A freewill offering will be taken for Kitty that evening.