Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Living Next Door to Hitler

by | September 10, 2009 | 23 comments

We’ve all heard the saying that if a child does not like an adult, pay attention. Their innocent minds have the ability to see through the layers of falsehood.

I have two friends, who, as children, were forced to gaze into Hitler’s eyes. They did not like him.

Gerlinde was six years old when she was chosen to stand before Hitler and Goebbels in front of a throng of thousands waving their little swastika flags. Daughter of a high-ranking official in their Bavarian town, she’d been chosen for her perfect blonde hair, blue eyed Aryan looks to present Hitler with a bouquet of flowers. When Hitler bent to her level to accept them, he had a serene smile on his face and gave her a gentle pat on the top of her curly little head. She looked into his eyes, not four inches from hers. Although her child’s mind could not translate the look in them as insane, she inwardly cringed.

“I do not like that man,” she later told her father. Not many months passed before her father realized Hitler was mad and agreed. They fled. But not far enough.

My other friend, Gunda, was also six years old when she was forced to look into Hitler’s eyes. Her father was a top ranking official, Rudolf Hess’s best friend, and his personal astrologer. They had realized before the war even started that Hitler was mad. Gunda remembers the clandestine meetings between her father and Hess in her family’s kitchen. They poured over astrological charts spread atop the table, deciding the right time to secret Jews out of the country, and when the right time would be for Hess to make his move.

Hess flew into Scotland with the intention of informing England of Hitler’s invasion plans. Meanwhile, Gunda’s father used his astrological charts to steer Hitler off course. Hess spent the rest of his life in prison while Gunda’s father, his treason against Hitler discovered, was thrown into a German concentration camp for two years and then placed under house arrest until rescued by the Allied Command.

With her father gone, Gunda, her mother and brother, were sent to live in a house next door to Hitler’s headquarters in Munich, so he could “keep an eye on them.” They were, in fact, political prisoners. Hitler would wander into their residence at will, lean down to Gunda’s eye level, pat her on her blonde curls, smile, and present her with candy. She did not like him. Not one bit. At age seven she and her brother were sent into the Alps to live out the war with her maternal grandparents. Her mother remained a political prisoner.

Gunda later learned that astrology was not all Hitler was attracted to with regard to the esoteric world. He chose his speeches carefully and dramatically, knowing that ceremony and tradition binds people, one to the other. That is why in documentaries you see so many newsreels with long parades and huge crowds of people gathered before him.

And in these documentaries, have you noticed that every man, woman and child in the crowd waves a little red flag with a black swastika emblazoned on it, while a huge version hangs behind the dais?

Hitler knew what he was doing. He bound the crowd together and to him to the ceremony. The flags of the people were given to wave were full of symbolism, right down to the colors the Nazi party chose. Metaphysically speaking, everything has its opposite-for day there is night, for black there is white. Esoterically, the color red signals power. But red also signals fear (which is why Satan was traditionally depicted in red – to instill fear), and so the red in the Nazi flag had a dual purpose: it subconsciously signaled empowerment directed toward Hitler and his regime, while subconsciously inflicting fear as a means of control. Black also has its dual purpose which was why the Swastika itself was black. People tend to fear the darkness, and fear is a great control mechanism. But the duality of black also is where the void is, where answers lie (why do Priests wear black if it is so evil? Native Americans revered the color black, believing that out of the void of nothingness came enlightenment). The black swastika was portrayed against a circle of white. White is the only color without duality. White represents purity.

Oh, and the swastika itself. What a shame Hitler took the most powerful spiritual symbol of the cross and desecrated it. But again, the party knew what it was doing. This “Whirling bird” symbol can be found in many cultures all over the world. Anthropologists have found evidence of it in Mesopotamia and in North America, on pottery and splashed across the walls of caves dating as far back as 4500 BC. Buddhists associate the Swastika with the Buddha. The symbol can be seen in their temples. Hindus associate it with the nine planetary gods (they still use it in wedding ceremonies). Did you know that up until Hitler’s desecration of the swastika, it represented good luck in America?

Not only did the Nazi party adopt the swastika because of its long association with the Aryan race (the Aryan race was once made up of Persians, Iranians, Indians, Germans, and Pelasgians – so much for the blonde, blue-eyed Nordic appearance Hitler demanded), but the “wheels” or “arms” of the swastika have a particular meaning depending on which way they face. Turning counterclockwise, the flow of the swastika represents female energy, the energy of sitting down and negotiating without war. However, turthe arms the other way (clockwise) and they represent a male, aggressive action outward–war. Unfortunately, the swastika will most likely remain an enigma in the world. Its use is outlawed in Germany today.

Jews were not the first group of people Hitler chose to annihilate. He initially went after artists and musicians because these groups of people were the free thinkers who sat around in coffee houses purporting change. He also went after the esoteric crowd because their world was abuzz. They had figured out the earth-shaking symbols and realized Hitler was up to no good.

My husband, Hans, is German, born after the war. He tells me the story of when he entered first grade. His teacher told the class of Hitler’s atrocities and informed these young children that all Germans must absorb the historical guilt of what Hitler did. Hans, stubborn and self-realized even back then, gathered his things and ran home. He told his parents what happened and said, “I did not know that guy Hitler, and I am not going to feel guilty because of what he did!” His parents, who suffered long years in prisons because of the war, agreed. The madman’s name was never brought up again.

Note: This was written with permission from both women who live in the U.S. today. Gunda, the daughter of Rudolf Hess’s astrologer (Hess was second in command under Hitler), has all of her father’s secret papers that she has not yet made public, and intends to write a book. She wears a ring her father gave her, one made up of sacred stones (according to him) and with the stones cut and polished in a certain design of flat triangles and squares to represent her astrological sign. I had no idea what this ring meant until she told me. She said there is so much more that Hitler did in using the esoteric and turning it into dark occultism. Gunda is a wonderful and benevolent person, giving and loving. She said her traumatic early years living next door to Hitler taught her about the lessons of choice: we can use whatever we have either for good or for bad, depending on one’s intention. Therefore, she makes a point to do nothing without first asking herself what her true intention is. And after her experience with Hitler, that intention is always meant to be for the good of all.


  1. Anonymous

    Wow. When you hear stories of people blindly following a leader, sometimes to their deaths (Jim Jones), you wonder how they got there. It's interesting to read about those two children and how they could see what so many adults couldn't. Great post! Cheryl

  2. Anonymous

    Simply fascinating, Kathleen!!!

    Great post,

  3. Keena Kincaid

    Fascinating post. Long ago I studied German in college, and one of my profs brought in tapes of Hilter's speeches. I understood about half of what he said, but he was mesmerizing–evil, but charismatic.

  4. Nicole North

    Awesome and fascinating post! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Carole St-Laurent

    Kathleen, great first blog! It was very interesting, so much so, at first I wondered if this wasn't the beginning of a book, only to realize it is a true story. Compelling.

  6. Allison Knight

    Very interesting. And how lucky your are to personally know those women. And yep!, it would make a great book, movie, TV special.

    I'd say, go for it.

    Allison Knight

  7. Isabel Roman

    I can only echo what everyone else has said. What wonderful stories here! You're very lucky to know these 2 women.

    I did know much of the history of the swastika, but what you wrote really shows how something innocent can be turned into a symbol for evil.

  8. Kathleen Bittner Roth

    Both women's stories were ongoing. Gerlinda and her sister ended up being crowded into a dark train car by the Russians and taken to a concentration camp. They both thrive today. Gunda lived out the war in the Alps with her grandmother, a famous German author, so writing is probably in her blood. I urge her to write her story.

  9. Tracey Devlyn

    Fascinating post, Kathleen! Thank you for sharing a bit of Gunda's and Gerlinde's story. Please let us know when Gunda's book gets published.

  10. Kathleen Bittner Roth

    I will! I think she has so much material it overwhelms her. She is still sifting through it, could not touch it for years. Everytime we really get into a deep conversation more comes out. She recently told me when the war started, in 1939, that all the Nazi high leaders had vacation homes on an island in a lake called Hiddensee. At the news they all left, including her family. They stopped in Berlin in a hotel and later all the highest ranking Nazi officials came to their suite. She was so scared she hid in her parents room while all the the men were in the living room of the hotel yelling and screaming. Hitler did not believe America would enter the war, that they had no interest!

  11. Gwynlyn MacKenzie

    WOW!! Great post, Kathleen.

    It's truly frightening how some folks seem born knowing how to manipulate others. It's also amazing how children seem to recognize evil more quickly than most adults. Now if we could just get the adults not to dismiss that awareness.

  12. Kathryn Albright

    Thank you for sharing these women's stories, Kathleen. A lot has been told from the Jewish perspective, but these two women had a different one, and one just as valid. Keep encouraging Gunda to write it all down. I would like to read it someday. I have a good friend (German) who was also quite young and remembers living in the country to escape Berlin. She has interesting stories to tell about her live then too. Thanks so much for your interesting post today.

  13. Kathleen Bittner Roth

    Thank you Kathryn, glad you enjoyed it. I have a feeling stories such as these are many and are beginning to catch our attention now that so much time has passed. We have to remember that there was no television, no radio in Germany until Hitler brought it in and then only to broadcast what he wanted. Newspapers were controlled. The general public had no idea what was going on until it was too late. Sometimes I try to imagine what it would be like to be in such a situation where no information was available, how isolated we could be.

  14. Victoria Gray

    Fascinating…I'd love to learn more about Hitler's interest in astrology. I wonder how many other leaders have felt that astrology was a guiding factor in their decisions. I'd love to see more on this.


  15. Anna Kathryn Lanier

    Great post. There's so much we common folk just don't know. I am surprised by your husband being told that by his teacher. My generation, I understand, wasn't told about Hitler. The German youth of that era were kept in the dark about the horrors of the war and the madness of Hitler.

  16. Eliza Knight

    Fascinating post Kathleen! I imagine the two women friends of yours are truly interesting people to talk to.

    I can't wait to read your friends book.

  17. etirv


  18. Kathleen Bittner Roth

    Thank you, everyone for your interest and kind remarks. Anna Kathryn, I don't know what age group "your generation" is 🙂 but my husband was born in the 50's. I don't know if it was only the one teacher or if it was a general consensus. I know today I hear all the time in Germany, "we must not forget", with the attitude being "so that it never happens again," and "we must honor those who suffered by remembering." sort of the same, seems to me. Our main satellite here (in Croatia) is out of Germany and there is one channel always playing documetaries on the war and atrocites. I find that odd. My husband refuses to watch (me too.)

  19. Lise

    What a powerful post! And an incredible juxtaposition of the innocents caught up in the maelstrom created by Hitler and his party. Truly poignant, and yet terrifying.

    Thank you for sharing such important stories.

  20. Lisbeth Eng

    Fascinating post, Kathleen! I knew that the swastika was an ancient spiritual symbol which Hitler adopted, but had never heard about the rotation of the arms and their relation to male vs. female energy. Very interesting. By the way, the colors of the Third Reich (black, white and red) were the same as those of the Second Reich (1871 – 1918). That was succeeded by Germany’s first (and unsuccessful) experiment with democracy, the Weimar Republic, whose colors (black, red and gold) are the same as the flag of today’s Federal Republic. Those colors go back at least as far as the mid-nineteenth century democracy movement in the German states. So you may be giving the Nazis a little more credit than they deserve in their choice of colors.
    Thanks for sharing all this information and your friends’ wonderful stories.
    P.S. Please check out my blog, "World War II…with a German accent" at http://www.lisbetheng.blogspot.com

  21. Patricia Barraclough

    What a truly interesting post. Young children have an insight that hasn't been spoiled by societies rules. We in North America have been very fortunate to have been spared the chaos such a person can inflict upon their country.
    Thank you for bringing these stories to us. I hope your friend writes her book soon. It should be very informative.

  22. Kathleen Bittner Roth

    I was aware that the colors went way back, but when the Nazi party decided on how they were going to set all this up, they could have chosen any colors, etc. They ended up remaining with the black and red, but for very different reasons. That is a pefect example of taking something and by wrong itention twisting its benevolence and turning it into something evil. I didn't make that part clear in the article, sorry. Our intentions are so important. My credo is "kindness and respect for all living things." So if I chose something, say, with black and red in it, my intention would make all the difference because it would be for self-empowerment (red) and answers and knowledge (black). When Gunda's father and Rudolf Hess realized Hitler's insanity and his intentions, everything changed for them and they became outsiders in a party and movement they once believed in because their intentions became different from the Nazi party.

  23. C.J. Redwine

    Fascinating! I love seeing history from such a personal perspective.

    Btw, Kathleen, I ended up on this blog by googling your name. I was one of the judges for your ms in the Melody of Love. You have talent and I wish you well on your journey to publication. 🙂



Share This