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A Double Life in Nazi Germany.

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You would do what you must to survive, there are no heroes.

92-year-old Robert Middelmann uncovered a secret about himself when he was very young. Keeping it was a matter of life and death. But, after many years, Robert decided to share that secret, along with the rest of his extraordinary life story, online. It all started in Nazi Germany…

Be careful when waving the patriotic flag, righteousness is a dangerous emotion...


I was picked, I don't know why, but I was picked for special commander’s, tank destroyers. And I knew what that meant. That it is a suicide mission. And there was no way out. I tried to escape, like in my mind. And if you didn't have the proper proof I.D. where you're going and what you're doing, they hang you right there, you know, it happened. And put a big sign on your back, “I was a coward.” And they hang you. They hung teenagers in the trees right on the country road.


and the door was open to anyone to come in and let your frustrations out on them. At least I was innocent. I was not one of them, but American soldiers, two of them, came in and I recognized that one was Jewish. He asked me if I was a member of the Hitler Youth. And I was trying to explain my situation, that really I’m half Jewish and I had to hide it. I couldn't, I had to join the Hitler Youth. Well I didn't get that far. He'd grabbed — he was furious, so he grabbed me and smashed me against the wall. Broke my jaw.


And we were thirsty and it was bad. I thought, okay, now suicide is painless. My chin wasn't up anymore. I thought not before they torture you to death. I do it myself to escape more. If I would have found anything like a sharp thing would have cut my wrists. Definitely. To finish me off.


A number of people might read your story and say that they would have been braver in the circumstances. Like, for instance, not hide their identity or refuse to take part in the Hitler Youth training or join the Nazi army. What would you say to those people?

Robert: Well, would you volunteer to go to the gallows?

Radio broadcast - audio and transcript.

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