Manitoba woman recounts time in Hitler Youth
A Manitoba woman who has shared her story about being a member of the Hitler Youth spent Remembrance Day volunteering with the legion in Oakbank, Man.
Marianne Clemens helped prepare the Remembrance Day lunch with women from the Springfield branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Clemens, who has written a book about her experiences, grew up in Germany and was automatically enrolled in the Hitler Youth at the age of 10.
Partway through the Second World War, Clemens, then 16, was drafted to work in munitions factories.
She said she was told that concentration camps were prisons, and had no idea what was really happening.
"You have to be living in a dictatorship to understand that," she said. "We heard nothing from the outside."
Clemens said her eyes were opened when the allied forces arrived.
Not every German was a Nazi, and not every Nazi was a monster.
"The Americans showed it on their newsreels, of course, and then we saw … it was unbelievable."
After the war Clemens was eager to leave Europe behind. She emigrated to Oakbank, Man., 15 kilometres east of Winnipeg, in 1957 and has lived there ever since.
A year ago, she joined the local legion. Clemens said they know about her past, but they don't care.
"Not every German was a Nazi, and not every Nazi was a monster."
Clemens also attends the Remembrance Day ceremony each year.
"It's good that we remember that there are people who are willing to go out and die to protect your country," she said.
Clemens' book, A Childhood Lost in War: Growing up Under Nazi Rule, describes her life in Germany.