Former fascist talks about growing up pro-Hitler

Nazi soldiers in WWII

In the run up to Remembrance Day on Thursday and Liberation Day on Friday, 89-year-old Dick Woudenberg decided to share his story of growing up in a pro-Hitler household. His parents were prominent members of Dutch fascist party NSB, which he himself later joined, and he grew up with a growing adoration for Adolf Hitler, Woudenberg said on RTL Late Night on Tuesday evening.

According to Woudenberg, he grew up worshipping Hitler. His parents sent him to an elite boarding school in Germany, where he quickly turned into a wholehearted Nazi with unconditional loyalty for Hitler. "He was an almost supernatural being, above all other people. Sent by God and as such the savior of us all. He was the big example for us boys at school. We all hoped to someday shake his hands, but that never happened for any of us."

It was only after Germany's surrender, in a re-education camp, that Woudenberg slowly realized that he'd been wrong his entire life. "There were counselors in the re-education camp. They were Jewish people. I became more familiar with that. They gave me detailed information about what they had experienced as Jews in the resistance. That was astonishing to me", Woudenberg said on the program. "There was even a house friend with that couple, who was not in the resistance, but was in 13 concentration camps. She spoke about it without emotion. Just like the Jewish people in the resistance. They talked about their intense, horrible experiences as if it did not happen to them."

After the war it was almost impossible for Woudenberg to find a job - his surname was contaminated. "Finally it was a Jewish gentleman who said: let the guy come to my office, but under a different name."

Woudenberg recalls how he would have reacted as a 14-year-old boy if someone like presenter Humberto Tan walked into his boarding school. "How did you get in here? You do not belong here. You have a color that does not fit with us." He was taught these ideals at school. "Every day a drop of poison, that has its effect", he said. "And you might expect discussions amongst ourselves, but it is part of the virtues that you do not doubt. Doubting does not fit with us."

The now elderly man warns that anyone can fall into the trap of such an ideology. But he hopes that his story will provide some hope. "Anyone can end up in the gutter, but no one has to stay there."

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