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[The following is taken from a memoir of Irmgard A. Hunt, who grew up in the mountains under Hitler’s Eagles Nest during the Second World War.]

A few months later the French finally agreed to fuse their zone with Bizonia, and on June 20, 1948, the momentous day arrived when the worthless Reichsmark was devalued and the deutsche mark was introduced in the three western zones. The event deprived Stalin of his hope to keep Germany weak and neutral, prompting him to introduce a separate devaluation in the Russian Zone and blocking all land access to Berlin, the four-zonal city deep within East Germany. Mutti [German: Mom] cried inconsolably when this part of Hitler’s legacy for the country she so loved came to pass. The border of the Russian Zone that had until then allowed streams of desperate East Germans to flee west now became almost impermeable.

Nevertheless, risking their lives, Muttie’s old friend Ilse Höfig, widow of the porcelain painter Watler Höfig, fled from Dresden with her two girls, Inge and Ursel, to find a safe haven in Berchtesgaden. She told of people who disappeared overnight, of starvation and unspeakable living conditions there – far worse than they were under the Nazis during the war. And while we were ever more grateful to have fallen into American hands, we feared for our friends and relatives in the Soviet Zone.


Hunt, Irmgard A. “Escape from Darkness.” On Hitler’s Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2005. 262. Print.

Further Reading:

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin

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