Local woman recalls life under Hitler and Stalin Germany, Europe

Sapp will tell her story Aug. 13 at Underground Railroad Museum

— Ingeborg Sapp, 78, has lived through the defining ideological battles of the twentieth century. And she’s going to tell her story on Aug. 13 at the North Star Underground Railroad Museum.

Sapp was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1932 as the Nazis rose to power. She doesn’t hide the fact that as she grew up she was swept into the reactionary wave.

“I couldn’t wait until I could join the Hitler Youth,” she said, adding that she did so around the age of 10. “I was absolutely enthralled by it.”

To be fair, everyone had to join the organization. But her enthusiasm was such that her father had to be careful around Sapp, for fear that she would report him. Her father never joined the Nazi party.

During the years of World War II, her father would follow the conflict on a large map fixed to the wall. As it went on, Sapp remembers how the fronts came increasingly close to home.

In 1944, when she was 12, Leizpig suffered heavy bombing. Every night, her family was forced to hide in their cellar. Her house was eventually struck and partially destroyed — while she and her relatives were inside. Their neighbors had to break down a wall to dig them out of the wreckage.

“It was a very scary time,” she said.

It was also a time of great scarcity. Both she and her father developed boils. A physician would tell them it was a result of malnutrition.

“There was a lot of this going on,” Sapp said. “People were hollow-eyed.”

She still clung to the idea of a German resurgence. She truly believed Hitler had the wunderwaffe, or wonder weapons, that Nazi propaganda boasted were waiting in the wings.

But early in 1945, the residents of Leipzig began to hear the gunfire of the front, and knew that the Allied forces were close. American troops soon took Sapp’s town, bringing food with them.

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