After 61 years, still fighting Hitler's War
He’s a kidder, with a twinkle in his eye, like many a retired guy around Walworth County.
But Ted Junker is not like most retired guys around Walworth County.
As Donna Lenz Wright reports in this week’s cover story, Junker thinks the world has gotten Hitler all wrong. And he’s built a memorial in the grassy hills behind his home near Millard in Hitler’s honor.
We found out about Mr. Junker the way we do many of our stories. Junker has been making the rounds of civic groups in Whitewater talking about his project. One of our readers called to tell us about him and to say he’d make an interesting story.
From the outset, I wondered why a man who describes himself as a former German SS officer would even want to draw attention to himself.
His beliefs will obviously offend many, especially those families who fought or had loved ones die in World War II.
There are plenty of people with unpopular and offensive opinions in the world, but in this country, you have the right to believe what you want to believe. Just because a person holds contrary opinions doesn’t mean they’re worth writing a story about.
But Ted Junker doesn’t just have his opinions. He wants to convince us that what we’ve known about World War II is all wrong. And he’s holding a public event at the memorial to publicize his cause.
I don’t think this is the type of story Fox had in mind when the came up with their “fair and balanced’ slogan. It’s like giving equal weight to the Flat Earth Society of those who deny we’ve been to the moon.
But in this case, we’ve decided to publish this story because Junker wants to make his beliefs public.
In some ways, Junker’s spin on history isn’t that far off. It is true that Hitler pulled Germany out of the social turmoil that gripped the country between the wars. And yes, Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf” did provide direction for the country.
But how Hitler accomplished all this is what lead to war and the holocaust.
In other instances, Junker simply disputes the historical record. His assertion that the deaths in the concentration camps were fabricated is impossible to believe.
As we were looking into it, we found there is a whole Holocaust denial movement. Lenz-Wright contacted several Jewish studies and history organizations for comment on the notion of dismissing the worst atrocities of World War II. In each case however, she found them hesitant for fear of being drawn into an endless debate.
In any case, Junker does have one thing right. In this country you can say and believe what you will.
Whether or not he’ll be able to convince anyone else is something you can judge for yourself.