April 1996 | Volume 47, Issue 2
In 1933–34 I was a junior at Smith College taking a year to study German literature and medieval art at the University of Munich. I lived with the Count and Countess von Armansperg and their son and daughter.
The count had been a page in the kaiser’s court and was now one of Hitler’s generals. Like so many other Germans, he hoped that the new chancellor would lead their country out of its financial mess.
Both the count and countess were thoughtful, well educated, and charming people, but thoroughly German. Every now and then they would have Hitler, Goering, Roehm, and all the rest of them over for tea. I was often invited to attend.
As a nineteen-year-old blonde, blue-eyed, very naive young girl, I was just the type Hitler liked. He had, I must admit, a great deal of teatime charisma. Of course, everyone courted the chancellor’s attention.
One afternoon I caught his eye, and he invited me to have dinner with him at his home the following Saturday night. I took one look at the little fellow with the funny mustache, thought of the handsome intern I was going with, and promptly answered, “Thank you for asking me, but I already have a date.”
The count and countess nearly fainted. One didn’t turn down an invitation from the chancellor of Germany!
But that was that: my brush with history. How grateful I am it was just a “brush.”