First of all, she has met Hitler. She worked in a factory in Germany and for some reason the factory workers were invited to Hitler's home for dinner. They were starving and all quite poor. They entered his home to find a beautiful table filled more food than they had ever seen. As you can imagine they were quite excited that they were actually going to get a meal. She then went on to describe the experience..." Hitler walked in and, Jessica, you could've heard a pin drop. Everyone was at attention and said nothing. He walked into the banquet room and looked at the table. He walked closer to it and then grabbed a corner of the table cloth. Then, without a word, jerked the table cloth off, sending every bit of food and china crashing to the floor. Just as silently as he entered, he left. Again, no one said a single word." At this point I literally thought I was going to have to use my hand to close my wide open mouth. She then went on to tell us "my friends and I were so hungry that we were almost in tears. I knew we had to have something to eat so I grabbed one of the linen napkins I found on the floor and started shoving food into it. I told my friends to do the same, but the hesitated saying that we would surely be killed if they caught us trying to leave with the food. I told them that we had to take the chance - we didn't know when we would get the chance to eat again..." Pretty amazing huh?
Even more amazing? The number of times she escaped death. Hilda was in her 20's during the war and lived with her parents in a home in Germany. She said she arrived home one day to find her house completely engulfed in flames from an air rade. Not only that - when they moved into another home, it happened again. They lost everything - twice - to air bombs. Things were so dangerous at this point that her family, and the friends they moved in with, were forced to live in the basement. Hilda said they had no food and couldn't even go upstairs to take a bath because it was so dangerous. She said she remembered an American soldier knocking on the door one time and being completely terrified. He asked her if she had a camera and she said yes and ran to get it. He said he would give her candy and cigarettes in exchange for her camera. She said she accepted immediately they were so hungry.
Another story which left me with my mouth completely agape went as follows... "I had started a job as a secretary about 8 miles from where I lived. There was another girl named Olga that worked with me who didn't live far from my home so after work we would walk home together. As we were walking, we heard the sirens and knew another air rade was coming. We were always told to get in a ditch if this occurred so we ran to the closest ditch and put our heads down. I remember hearing the machine guns and bombs so close to me. When it was all over, I said "Ok Olga. I think we can get up and go home now" Olga said nothing. I looked over and she was dead...."
After spending time listening to Hilda it made me realize how INCREDIBLY blessed we are. I asked her once if she was afraid and she just looked at me and said "Jessica, you don't even know fear." She's right, I don't; and I'm glad.
I was so amazed with this woman I just had to share a few of her stories - maybe it will inspire you to take the time to really talk to an elderly person you might know!