Retired Wisconsin Farmer Builds Hitler Memorial
Theodore Junker, a retired Wisconsin farmer, has built a memorial/museum to Adolf Hitler on his 20-acre farm in Millard, Wisconsin. He talked about the notion for years, and finally is ready for people to come and see it.
Junker's "attraction" has reportedly ignited a firestorm of controversy among his family, Wisconsin politicians, some local residents ... and just about everyone else who hears about it. But Junker, who is 87, is calm about it.
"When people are, for 60 years, one-sided informed, then you bring the other side, there will be controversy," he said in German-inflected English. "I can understand that they disagree. You don't change in one day. But most people are nice."
Junker came to America in 1955. He was a German soldier on the Eastern front in World War II. "I lost a lot of friends, so I feel obligated to build them a memorial. And since I did this, then I thought, since I highly believe in Adolf Hitler, I thought I make also a big room of honor of Adolf Hitler."
Junker's museum is small -- 40 feet long by 50 feet deep by 12 feet high -- and was described by one reporter as a bunker built into the side of a hill. It has two rooms: one to set the facts straight -- in Junker's opinion -- about the war, and the other to do the same with Hitler.
"Outside, where I have a memorial, there are marbles where everything is inscribed. What all got lost during the war. Most people don't know that more people died after the war than during the war. In the camps. The other thing that they don't know is that 17 million people was driven away from their homeland. This all is inscribed."
"Downstairs, in the Hall of Honor, I have also some inscriptions. What Hitler did. What they tell, that he started the war, it's not true. Everything what they say, he was a dictator and so on, I prove this is not all true."
According to Junker, aside from the inscriptions, there isn't much to see. American and Nazi flags. A couple of book shelves. Some chairs. A framed picture of Hitler on a stand.
Still, Junker hopes people will visit. "I am glad when people are coming. And I don't mind when they don't agree. Don't make any difference. You don't have to agree with your neighbor. But don't start fighting, that's all."
Understandably, local authorities aren't happy about the publicity the museum/memorial is suddenly attracting. But it's on Ted Junker's property, and since he doesn't charge admission there may not be much the town can do about it.
This won't be America's first Hitler attraction -- you can gawk at der Fuhrer's typewriter or his tea service, captured by WWII GIs and exhibited in various museums. But it's unique in its cluelessness regarding public reaction to a pro-Hitler memorial.
The memorial is planned to open on June 25.
July 2006: County officials and a lawyer managed to persuade Junker to cancel his plans to open his Hitler Museum. Aside from permits Junker still needed to officially request, they warned him of the angry sentiment in the area and beyond, with suggestions that someone might retaliate. So the museum has not opened.[06/18/2006]