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What Was Life in Nazi Germany Really Like?

6 Shocking Revelations About Nazi Germany, Straight From a 95-Year-Old Who Lived Through It


If you've ever wondered what Germany was like during Adolf Hitler's devastating rule, Hanna Hamburger may have the insight you're looking for. A 95-year-old survivor of Nazi Germany, Hamburger was born in Eppingen, Germany, in 1922 and experienced anti-Semitism firsthand during her teenage years. At 14, she was removed from school by the Nazis, and at 16, in the midst of the Holocaust, she and her parents fled the country for America. In a recent Reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything") conversation, she (with a little help from her grandchildren) shared a handful of revelations about both her life in Germany and her transition to life in the States. The thread received tons of interaction and interest (more than 1,400 comments, to be exact). Below, we've outlined some of Hamburger's most notable and interesting responses, but you can read more about her story by looking through the entire AMA.

Life changed drastically when Hitler rose to power

"My school friends couldn't sit with me in the train cars," Hamburger explained when someone asked about how life changed when Hitler came into power. "They weren't supposed to talk to me. I was more isolated. I had to go to a different school. I had to go to elementary school when I should have been to high school. I also went to sewing school; nuns took us in when no one else would."

There are a handful of reasons so many Jews stayed in Germany instead of fleeing

One user posed quite the loaded question: "I assume the political situation of Germany back then was already indicative that Hitler would rise to power. Why do you think so many Jews stayed in Germany even though it was obvious that an anti-Semite was going to rule the country?" they asked. The woman replied that there were many reasons they may have chosen to stay. "Their business, their money, they had nobody to give them a visa. People thought it wouldn't happen," she wrote.

The move disrupted her education — but that didn't stop her from finally completing it

Someone asked her, "Do you ever wonder what life would have been like if WW2 never happened, and you had stayed in Germany?" and the woman's response revealed something remarkable. "I would want to be a doctor today if I was alive," she wrote. "But, you know, I couldn't finish high school. I was 50 when I got my high school diploma." Now that's what we call dedication!

Holocaust-related movies aren't as accurate as you may think

The woman admitted that she has seen "a few movies" that document the Holocaust, but added that they "never show the true horrors" of the devastation.

Adjusting to life in the States was a bit of a struggle

When one user asked the woman if it was difficult adjusting to life in the United States, she briefly explained that it certainly was. "Well, for me being 16 it took a while to adjust myself," she said. "I was scared to go on the phone because of my accent. My clothes were German. Although my shoes were stylish at the time because they were rubber boots. Everyone wanted to know where they came from."

Life in the US was "hard" at first

One curious Reddit user asked what life was like in the US after the initial move, and the woman admitted that it was "hard" at first. "Because each of us came with $100. And I started working as a nanny," she explained. The same person also wondered what was most surprising to the woman about America, and she wrote, "The big buildings. The many people. At the time I left, the town I was from had 3,500 people."

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