On Hitler's Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood (2005) by Irmgard A. Hunt
I've got to hand it to my mom on this one- she who finds so many amazing WWII histories and memoirs (of which there seems to be an explosion this past decade).
Basically pressing this book into my hands and ordering me to read it, my mom claimed that it was a fascinating glimpse into the life of a German girl under Nazi rule. Unlike the stories of Jews in concentration camps that we had heard and read about for years, this book tells us what life was like for a "regular German family," a family that had no political or religious marks against them in the eyes of the Nazis.
In fact, Hunt's family lived so close to Hitler's mountain retreat (in Berchtesgaden) that she even met him once. But what is really remarkable about this memoir is how it presents life in Germany during the war from a different angle, showing us how German officials constricted the flow of news and kept the public in the dark about many of Hitler's plans (for who knew how the populace would react if told the whole truth?). Of course, many Germans knew and approved of Hitler's claim that he would rid Germany of its Jews and other "undesirables," but for those living in the countryside or in the mountains, before tv and the internet, what was happening in the urban centers or on the frontlines seemed very far away.
Hunt masterfully weaves together her memories of that time and her later efforts to find out what had really been going on while she lived on the mountain. She recalls how Jewish friends she had known suddenly disappeared as the 1930s came to a close, and how, toward the war's end, her family feared what would happen to them when the Russians and Americans came. Ultimately, Hunt's goal is to learn the truth and accept the tragic legacy of her nation, even as she remembers her own innocence and fear during that time. Highly recommended.
Also see: The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman, Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies, and the film Downfall (2004).