One man's memorial to Hitler
Despite potential controversy, a former SS officer set to open a memorial near Millard
By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week
(Published June 9, 2006, 3:39 p.m.)
"Hitler did nothing.
"When the war happened, he tried everything diplomatic--everything.
"The soldiers of the Third Reich never stole anything. I fought next to them. They were good men. Never times were they bad.
"Not one person was gassed to death in the Third Reich."
This is what Ted Junker of Millard believes.
Junker says he was born in 1919 in Germany and fought as a German Waffen-Schutzstaffel (SS) officer during World War II.
For 60 years he has mulled over what he remembers happening during those years. And in the years since he has come to see those events as totally opposite from how they are commonly told.
"When I was laying in bed at night, I would ask, 'How is it possible that people get so misinformed?'" he says through a strong German accent.
So Junker figured he'd do something big to tell his side of the story.
He built a large hall and monument honoring the legacy of Adolf Hitler and the German Allied forces.
Junker will hold a grand opening Sunday, June 25 beginning at 11 a.m.
Down a mile-long winding dirt drive, past pastures, fields, a gravel pit and around a pond, lies Yunker's quaint, inviting farmstead. Around the last bend a building comes into view on the left that doesn't go with the rest of the spread.
On its side, large black-on-white letters greet visitors that stand out so strongly that they're impossible to ignore:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
It's our own First Amendment.
"I put that there so people shouldn't be afraid," Junker said. "But they are afraid. But I thought when they see the First Amendment maybe they not so much be afraid."
Atop the Honorary Hall, which is built into a hillside, is a gigantic black marble monument, "dedicated to those German and other European heroes who fell in World War II, as well as to all victims of (German) Allied persecution and genocide. May God ever be with them," as it's engraved in the center.
On its left side, the Waffen-SS soldiers' countries are listed.
On its right side, SS death totals are broken down: 4.25 million.
Total war related deaths among Germany's allies "for freedom in Europe:" 15 million.
Under the dedication in the center, those who died after Germany's defeat are honored: 10 million.
Germans driven from their homes after the war: 17 million.
"After the war we lost our home too," Junker lamented. "After the war I had one pair of shoes and those were for Sunday, so I went barefoot. We lost everything."
Descending the hill to the front of the hall, two doors on each corner frame a curtain "so nobody gets a heart attack," Junker joked. As he retracts the curtain, the message-again large black-on-white letters-reveals the purpose of the building:
Honorary Hall for Adolf Hitler
Before you pass judgment,
Give careful and equal
Consideration to both sides.
To stand for the truth.
The truth shall set you free.
Through the doors is a large, mostly empty hall. The walls are white and the carpet is an unassuming brown tone. A long wooden conference table is in the foreground of the hall. On each side are wooden shelves of books. And across the back wall is a huge red velvet curtain.
As Junker opens the curtain, the display slowly emerges.
Hitler's face stares back from two large photos. One sits atop a pedestal that will soon hold a bust of Hitler, Junker said. It's a dashing young Hitler in his SS uniform, swastika on his left arm sleeve. The other, much larger portrait is a close-up face shot. It sits in front of the pedestal on a large black box.
On the wall behind the photos is a huge Nazi flag on the right, and an equally-sized American flag on the left.
On each side of the flags are more messages important to Junker. Among the messages are, "Hitler did not start World War II," "Hitler advocated for Aryans but respected all races" and "Hitler united the German people and had a goal to unite Europe."
In the center, above the photos and between the flags the message says:
Und danach handeln
Translated into English is:
Get to know the laws of nature
And live by them
But why would Junker feel the need to build such a large and obviously expensive monument of this nature so long after the war?
"The winner of the war writes the history, you see," Junker said. "Most people don't know what was really going on."
Junker says that for all of these years he lay awake nights thinking over what he perceives is a horrible wrong. He says Hitler's messages have been completely misconstrued and that the Nazi Party has been unjustifiably damned.
"Hitler gave dignity back to his people," Junker asserts. "Hitler united German people. His book, "Mein Kampf," provided direction for the future. He brought jobs, food and dignity back to the German people."
Junker says he remembers life before and after Hitler was elected Germany's chancellor in 1933, and the years after were far better than the those before.
"They even talk that Hitler was against the church," he said. "That's the biggest lie because he especially made laws to save the church.
"How the can people judge when for 60 years they just listen to one side?" he asks. "Not even the best judge can rule when he doesn't listen to the other side. People have only heard one side."
Becoming an SS officer
Junker spent his teen years in Romania. As Hitler was becoming more powerful, the Germans in his village were persecuted by the officials and the locals, he says. They weren't given the educational and occupational opportunities that the others were given.
"Romania was with their heart and soul French," he remembers. "(The persecution) was natural because France and England want war with Germany."
Junker and his friends would gather and sing German songs, he said. "In Romania you had to be quiet about Hitler. But we were German and we were singing German songs, but they said we were singing Hitler songs so they put me in jail.
"When we go evening out, the police came, they hit us, pushed us. I was four times in jail for nothing."
While he was in jail, pro-Hitler movements were gaining strength in Germany. Once he got out, he decided to go to Germany.
"Romanian jail is not like the United States," he said. "They were bad. They cut all your hair. There were bugs. They give you no food. It was real bad. So I decided to go to Germany and become an SS soldier."
So he set off on foot to see if he could enlist. He walked all the way to Germany and found a recruiting camp.
"That was in the Wiermacht Camp. There was over 40 young boys, they all wanted to go to the SS. The SS was very strict. You have to be naked and look how your bodies, your eyes, your teeth. From these 40 boys they picked just four, and I was one," he said proudly.
This is another major point of contention with Junker, that young men were forced to become SS soldiers.
"Today if somebody says he was pressed (in)to the SS, that's the biggest lie. They never took a single one who wasn't free."
In all, Junker says was wounded six times during the war and was in more than one prison camp. He waited five years to be able to come to the United States, and as soon as he could, he moved to the Chicago area.
And his pride in being an SS officer is as strong today as it was then. His comrades were honest and dutiful, he said.
"In the Third Reich the youth groups were so well educated and controlled in this manner. They wasn't allowed dope-it never existed in the Third Reich. You would never see smoking, never. We were healthy men."
Contrary to how Hitler has been portrayed, his being a racist was one of the largest fallacies, Junker believes.
"They said he was a racist. It's a lie. He advocated for, he was in favor of these people. He respected other races."
But things did change in regard to German feelings about Jews in 1933, he says. Two months after Hitler was elected the World Jewish Organization declared war on Germany.
Junker says that only then did Germans begin distrusting the Jews
In fact, Junker believes that Hitler himself did more to help the Jews than any other person or government of the time.
On concentration camps
While Junker wholeheartedly disbelieves the stories of mass executions in concentration camps, he doesn't deny that people were moved into the camps and in some cases deported.
"Why did they put them in them in the concentration camp? Why did United States put the Germans, Italians and the Japanese into camps?" he asked rhetorically. "Hitler did nothing against the law."
As for the film and photo footage of the concentration camps shown over and over through the years, Junker insists it's fabricated.
"It's Hollywood," he said. "It's proven already 30 years that experts from the United States, Austria and Germany. They didn't find in the walls residue from the gas like they say. Nothing is there. They didn't find corpses. They didn't find ashes."
The Institute for Historical Review (IHR), the experts Junker cites, does claim to have done extensive research at the camp sites. According to their Web site they don't dispute the fact that large numbers of Jews were deported to the camp, or that many died there, particularly of typhus and other diseases. But the evidence they present shows that Auschwitz was not an extermination center and that the story of mass killings in 'gas chambers' is a myth.
Confessions by Nazis were coerced and obtained through torture, they claim. The group also cites that upon firsthand inspection, the facilities were not equipped to be used as gas chambers or mass crematories.
"They want to have an open debate already for over 25 years," Junker says. "But nobody will debate them. You see, in history people lie."
How does an SS officer end up in Wisconsin?
Junker and his late wife moved to Walworth County in 1963 and raised their family. He loves the United States, he said, and would never want to live anywhere else.
"We couldn't come here the first five years after the war, so I came after that."
He isn't concerned about people disapproving of his Honorary Hall to Hitler, as it is what makes the United States so wonderful-the freedom of speech, he says.
His children have voiced their concerns and tried to persuade him to write a book instead, but he would not be deterred.
"I didn't build this so nobody knows it," he said. "I've been a peaceful man since I've been in the United States.
"That's why I made it here, in the middle of the country. Not in Milwaukee or big city. So if people don't want to see it, they don't. But if they do, it's here."
Even in Germany people can't speak freely about Hitler, the war or any of the associated stories, he said. "I'm so glad I'm alive in this world. In Germany you no can do this, they'll put you in jail."
But on the chance that he does get into some sort of trouble for his monument, Junker has taken steps to save his farm.
"I changed my will. I don't want (my family) to spend any money when they put me in jail," he said.
But the importance of his message pulled him so strongly, he felt he needed to speak his truth about what happened as he saw it in the 1930s, 1940s and the years since.
"I thought if I could do something for the world, or the United States, I would do this in my last days.
"When you know Hitler, he is the greatest guy ever existed. But I don't can change the minds of the people. But what he did-he was the greatest leader ever."
The grand opening
Junker is holding a grand opening for his monument and honorary hall on June 25 at 11 a.m. He will welcome anyone interested in visiting and talking on that day or by appointment. The monument is located at 6360 County Road A, Elkhorn.
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