This October 2017 German TV video is about Ms Heidi Benneckenstein, interviewed about her autobiography Ein deutsches Mädchen. Mein Leben in einer Neonazi-Familie.
Translated from the Dutch of Jeannette Kras in Viva magazine today:
Heidi Benneckenstein (25) grew up as neo-Nazi in a village near Munich. It was only six years ago that she managed to flee from her environment. She tells her story in Viva. “My father said that war could break out any time.”
He was the one with the most radical views of the family. His children had to be brought up to become elite Nazis. “My father behaved like we were not his daughters, but soldiers whom he could command. He made battles of everything: who covered the table best? Who ran fastest? It was always about achievement, triumph or shame. As a child I lived in constant fear that war would break out. ”
Her father fed that fear by saying that there had been no real peace treaty between Germany and the Allies and that the Second World War had never officially ended. …
Only at school Heidi realized she was different. “English was a forbidden language and if I or one of my sisters called Poland ‘Poland‘ because we had learned that at school, we were punished. We had to say ‘East Prussia‘. … Jeans were forbidden. As a child I wore only dirndls and hand-knitted sweaters and socks. My father taught us from a very early age that police, the authorities and the ‘leftists’ were our enemies.”
Every summer she had to go to a Nazi camp, where she was dealt with harshly. “In the morning we had to do outdoor exercises in the cold. If you did not obey, then the leaders would call you, you would have to do push-ups or you would be beaten.”
It was hardly avoidable that young Heidi took over the ideas. “I was fifteen when I joined the youth department of the far-right-wing political party NPD. At the time I was pretty fanatic and sometimes even violent. So once I have dealt blows to a left-wing woman photographer. I still find it difficult to talk about it. But I can not make it any better than it was: at the time I despised people who had other ideas. ”
At the age of eighteen, however, she started to question the neo-Nazis. “Something that shook my worldview was when I was helped in a train by asylum seekers. They came to my rescue when I was being harassed by a bunch of guys, and that made such a big impression. I began to doubt more and more the ideas with which I had grown up.”
When her parents divorced, she decided to live with her more moderate mother and she never wanted to see her father again. She got a relationship and moved to Munich. But there was one Nazi viewpoint that she still had to abandon. “I had been a Holocaust denier for so long, that the idea that the Holocaust was a lie was deeply rooted in my brain. It was the last piece of Nazi ideology that had remained with me. I have really forced myself to do research. My father had told me all kinds of conspiracy theories that I believed in as a child, but now I had to admit that I had been completely wrong and that those horrific mass murders ordered by Hitler did happen.”
Heidi now works as a kindergarten teacher. “Slowly we are becoming part of normal society and that feels good.”
Her grandmother kept talking about how happy she had been in the Hitler Youth. According to Heidi, neonazism could become strong in Germany because police neglected stopping it. See interview here.