The presentation was entitled “Socialism vs Freedom” and was a part of the SDFPC “Heritage Under Attack” series.
Werthmann is the head of the South Dakota chapter of Eagle Forum, and was born in Austria. Werthmann lived for seven years under the Nazi rule of Austria, eventually coming to the United States in 1950 to become a naturalized citizen in 1962.
She said conditions in 1930’s Austria were very difficult. Unemployment was high, food was short, and many businesses were going bankrupt.
Austrians were looking to Germany where they saw prosperity and law and order, while they had near anarchy in their own country. With only a border between them, speaking the same language and having a similar culture, they believed the promise of prosperity from Adolf Hitler. Politically in their country, on one side was the National Socialist Party (Nazi) and the other was the Communist Party.
The communists were growing stronger as a party because of their promises, as well. When the country had to decide between Nazis and Communists, most of the people came to the realization they were a country with a Christian background and could not bring themselves to vote for the atheistic communists. Austria voted the Nazi Party in to power.
Once the Nazis took control, the people no longer voted for government positions anymore; all positions down to the local level were filled by appointment.
In the interest of a supposedly more efficient government, the Nazis decided to centralize all government between Germany and Austria.
Hitler nationalized (socialized) the banks, health care, automobile production, education, and more.
Werthmann said they had prayer in school and religious instruction, but “this all stopped overnight” once the Nazis took over. Instead of praying, they started singing praise songs about the state.
Children were instructed to report to state education on Sunday morning instead of church. If parents failed to comply with this political education on Sunday, they received a stern warning first, followed by a stiff fine for a second offense.
Children were told to listen only to Hitler and not to listen to their parents. The children were allowed to play sports after political education and the boys could do things like ride motorcycles and learn to fly gliders. This resulted in the children enjoying this time, and if their parents didn’t like it, the children would argue with their parents because the state had told them they had many rights beyond what their parents allowed them.
Werthmann said her mother eventually took her out of the public school system and enrolled her in a private school. She said at the time she almost hated her mother for doing this, but her mother told her that she hoped someday she would understand. Werthmann said now she thanked her mother 1,000 times over for doing this.
Werthmann said Hitler expanded “equal rights” for women, which resulted in far more women going out into the work force. The government created state-run child care and began molding the minds of children at a very young age.
Austria had private health care prior to the Nazis, and the quality was good. But the government took over the health care system, and when health care became “free” the doctors quickly became overloaded by frivolous use of the system. Surgeries of a more important nature, however, had waiting lists of about 18 months because of all the “hypochondriacs” abusing the system.
Werthmann said that if a doctor prescribed a medicine not on the government-approved list, the government would take the cost of the medicine out of the doctor’s salary.
Welfare became a “huge apparatus,” said Werthmann. Everyone had access to subsidized housing, food stamps, heating subsidies and many other benefits until everyone–regardless of salary–reached the prescribed standard of living.
“That’s called socialism,” she said. Werthmann cited the exchange between Joe the Plumber and Presidential Candidate Obama about “spreading the wealth” as a sign that it’s already begun here.
They also had what was called the “Planning Agency.” This dealt primarily with the agricultural system, telling farmers what they had to plant and how much of it they must plant. Livestock could not be butchered for the farmer and his family; everything had to be accounted for and turned over to the state.
Abortion was illegal under Hitler’s regime because Hitler wanted a lot of children to fuel the economic engine of his state. But if a child was conceived of a union that was not considered racially pure Aryans, they were selected to have an abortion.
Austria also had euthanasia. She said that when she was doing student teaching in the Alps, she went to a village where there were a number of residents who were mentally handicapped. The government announced a program where these people would be taken away to a facility where they would be taught useful skills including reading. In about six months, their families started receiving letters that these people had supposedly died a natural “merciful” death. They were being euthanized.
Austria also received gun control. Many people in Austria hunted, but the government said there were too many hunting and other types of gun-related accidents, and too much crime. So the people were forced to register their guns. The government then said the accident and crime problem didn’t improve, so the people would have to give up their guns.
“Keep your guns,” said Werthmann. “And buy more guns. And make sure you have plenty of ammunition.”
Even the churches were nationalized under Hitler. The government said the churches needed repairs, so a “church tax” was created. This led to the silencing of pastors because they feared they would lose their funding if they spoke out.
Werthmann cited the frog-in-the-pot analogy, and said the Austrian people were slowly boiled alive by the Nazis.
She said Hitler gave the people free radios so they could listen to him, and the newspapers were being censored by the state. The people didn’t have any information and didn’t know anything that the government didn’t want them to know.
Within about five years, Austria had gone from a free country to an absolute dictatorship.
In examining the attacks from socialists that have come against America, Werthmann recalled an incident in1985 she was invited by President Ronald Reagan to attend the summit between himself and Soviet President Gorbachev in Switzerland.
While there, she infiltrated the “peace movement,” which was there just to support Gorbachev. She marched with Bella Abzug, Barbara Boxer and Jesse Jackson while dressed “like a hippie.” She said Abzug greeted a woman who was in the German Parliament and told her there was a private meeting the next day with Gorbachev and she was invited.
Werthmann said she talked to a woman there who told her she and her fellow communists were working their way against the U.S. starting in Nicaragua, Honduras, and eventually with an eye to attack the U.S. through Mexico. The woman told her they would do this by getting massive numbers of illegals into the U.S. and pushing the sanctuary movement. Werthmann said when she saw illegal immigrant marches in California carrying the Mexican flag and trampling the American flag, she knew this was actually happening.
She said America is the greatest country in the world…if we can keep it. Werthmann said she is an optimist, that we are still a Christian nation, and God is still on his throne. She encouraged Americans to fight for this great country and to not lose our freedoms.
Werthmann said that when the people fear the government, that’s tyranny, but when the government fears the people, that’s liberty.
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