|Hitler's Visit to Lambsborn: A First-Person Account|
|It was serendipitous - one "you have to talk to this person" led to another, and then to Herr Otto Hiegel. Herr Hiegel, a retired engineer and lifelong resident of Lambsborn, graciously shared his memories with me when I turned up at his door unannounced. Here he's displaying his original "Erkennungsmark", or dog tag.
Herr Hiegel is one of the few veterans I have interviewed who saw Hitler up close. His account is augmented by information from a book documenting the history of Lambsborn.
|On 20 May 1939, Hitler made an inspection of the Westwall in the Lambsborn valley. His route passed through Bechofen on the way to Homburg am Saar with a brief detour to Lambsborn. The Lambsborn visit was not a surprise, however, as the history book reports flags were hung on Lambsborn's main street and crowds lined the streets. The Lambsborn fortifications must have been fairly new at the time since they were built in 1938-39.
Herr Hiegel was twelve years old and slipped under the arms of a security guard to a better viewing spot. "I was three meters from him, here to there" he remembered. "Hitler only looked at one bunker in town - in one end, out the other. That was it". But it was enough that Herr Hiegel remembers the event almost seventy years later.
As with all young German men, Herr Hiegel was drafted into the Wehrmacht where he became a radio operator. He was severely wounded in Hungary and returned home in 1945, earlier than most. Herr Hiegel and his neighbor and school friend, Herr Goertner, were helpful in locating the WWII sites in Lambsborn. Without his help I'd still be in the forest looking for Dragons' Teeth where they don't exist!
|Herr & Frau Hiegel, married since 1946.|
|More info on WWII history in the Lambsborn area was collected by a soldier who lived in the village and got to know Herr Hiegel. Thanks, Joel! Check out his great website here|