Just because he’s 84 years old, Hilmar von Campe isn’t settling down into a rocking chair or a recliner. This vigorous senior citizen is busy all day, every day, rising at 5 a.m. and seldom retiring before 9 p.m. He is a man with a mission – to warn the United States that it’s headed toward a Hitler-style totalitarianism government, the same as he witnessed firsthand, because it has abandoned moral absolutes and its historic Christian faith.
In his latest book, Defeating the Totalitarian Lie: A Former Hitler Youth Warns America, von Campe links what is currently taking place in America with shockingly similar developments that occurred in Nazi Germany.
Von Campe was seven years old when Hitler took control of his native Germany. When he turned ten, the law required him to join the Hitler Youth, a movement designed to indoctrinate children into the Nazi philosophy. But von Campe’s Christian faith, passed on to him at great cost by his parents, kept him from falling for the lies that were being taught.
At the age of eighteen, von Campe was given a new view of the world around him – from inside a German tank. Now drafted into the German army, he became a tank gunner and was sent to fight against the Soviet army in Yugoslavia. He was captured in 1945 at the end of World War II and was held as a prisoner of war under Tito’s oppressive Communist government. Five months later, von Campe staged a sensational escape, crossing the borders of seven countries by following the North Star by night and hiding in bushes by day.
Other members of his family didn’t fare as well. His father died in a Soviet concentration camp, and his older brother was killed in the war with the Soviet Union. His family was expelled from their home in Eastern Europe while Germany itself lay in ruins.
“[Hilmar] was captured in 1945 at the end of World War II and was held as a prisoner of war under Tito’s oppressive Communist government. Five months later, von Campe staged a sensational escape, crossing the borders of seven countries by following the North Star by night and hiding in bushes by day.”
Family friends helped von Campe pay his way to the University of Hamburg where he obtained a degree in economics. By then he had learned of the Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities and was struggling to wrap his mind around possible explanations of such horrors. His pondering led him to intensive studies of Marxism, National Socialism, Communism, Islam and Western society, and to the conclusion that the Nazi system was built on lies and contempt for human life.
“All materialistic totalitarian ideologies, the Nazis, the Communists, and the radical Islamists, are based on lies and hatred,” he maintains. “There is no gray zone. You are either a liar and an enemy of God, or you stand up for God’s truth and freedom.”
After graduation from the university, von Campe spent close to two decades as a full-time volunteer for “Moral Rearmament,” a global ideological movement with the goal of changing the world by convincing people to stand strong for God and the Scriptures.
“A total change in my life took place while I was with the moral rearmament movement, and I promised to use my life to make restitution for what the Nazi government had done,” he said. “I believe that one’s human nature needs to be changed through faith in God.”
In 1971, von Campe went to work for an international investment company headquartered in Lima, Peru. It turned out to be more than a good business move; it was also good for his personal life. In Peru, von Campe met and married his wife, Dina, who still works by his side, dealing with book sales and meeting schedules.
After extensive travel for the investment company, von Campe moved to Mexico City and managed a consulting company, later becoming managing director of a factory. While there, he headed the subcommittee of foreign investment for the American Mexican Chamber of Commerce.
Normal retirement time arrived in 1990 and, at age 65, von Campe moved to the United States. But he had no intention of retiring to life in a rocking chair. Instead he started a new business, wrote five books, founded the National Institute for Truth and Freedom, and became an American citizen in 2004.
The objective of the institute he founded is to make freedom the concern of every American.
“The battle for freedom is the battle for truth because lasting freedom without truth is not possible. Liars are the enemies of freedom. It is the mission of our nation to bring freedom to the world,” he states. “The battle for truth must begin as an individual effort, followed by enlisting others in the same common purpose.”
Toward that goal, he urges people to share their beliefs with their elected representatives at the state and federal levels and to get the word out through newspaper and magazine contacts. Von Campe and institute members are committed to sharing their beliefs with all who will listen. They travel the country for speaking engagements, sharing their views about the need for truth, freedom and a return to constitutional government. More information about the institute and about von Campe’s books is available at www.voncampe.com.
“Today in America we are witnessing a repeat performance of the tragedy of 1933 when an entire nation let itself be led like a lamb to the Socialist slaughterhouse,” he said.
Von Campe, who is in good health, said his typical day begins at 5 a.m. with a time of prayer and Bible reading, followed by breakfast with his wife. Research, writing and answering letters take up many hours per day, and he often speaks at schools and other events, including Tea Party meetings in many states.
His great concern is regarding Christians who don’t want to get involved in challenging those who endanger the country’s basic freedoms and who won’t stand for what’s right when they see wrongdoing. His life message, as well as that of his latest book, is that America needs a God-inspired ideology.
“Only on that road can America fulfill her destiny and, as a nation under God, give moral leadership to the world and make truth the basis of all human relationships,” he says in the book.
Looking back to his youth under Nazi Germany, he reminds people that there is “nothing theoretical about my description of what happens when a nation throws God out of government and society.”
“This nation was born on the Bible,” he said. “We must not be like Germany which went down due to godlessness because they threw God out. We must fight for the truth, and we must recognize the role of God in human society.”
And, at age 84, Hilmar von Campe is still fighting his good fight and ignoring his rocking chair.
Thank you Hilmar, for sharing your Story with us.
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© 2009 by Joyce Starr Macias and Story of My Life®