Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Enema Action: The Koch Family’s Nazi Nanny

 . . . . he [Fred Koch] was enamored enough of the German way of life and thinking that he employed a German governess for his first two sons, Freddie and Charles.  At the time, Freddie was a small boy, and Charles was still in diapers. The nanny’s iron rule terrified the little boys, according to a family acquaintance. In addition to being overbearing, she was a fervent Nazi sympathizer, who frequently touted Hitler’s virtues. Dressed in a starched white uniform and pointed nurse’s hat, she arrived with a stash of gruesome German children’s books, including the Victorian classic Der Struwwelpeter, that featured sadistic consequences for misbehavior, ranging from cutting off of one child’s thumbs to burning another to death. [That’ll learn ’em—D.E.] The acquaintance recalled that the nurse had a commensurately harsh and dictatorial approach to child rearing. She enforced a rigid toilet-training regimen requiring the boys to produce morning bowel movements precisely on schedule or be force-fed castor oil and subjected to enemas. [“Shitzkrieg?—D.E.] 
 The despised governess ruled the nursery largely unchallenged for several years. In 1938, the two boys were left for months while their parents toured Japan, Burma, India, and the Philippines. Even when she was home, Mary Koch characteristically deferred to her husband, declining to intervene. “My father was fairly tough with my mother,” Bill Koch later told Vanity Fair. “My mother was afraid of my father.” Meanwhile, Fred Koch was often gone for months at a time, in Germany and elsewhere. 
 It wasn’t until 1940, the year before the twins were born, when Freddie was seven and Charles was five, that back in Wichita the German governess finally left the Koch family, apparently at her own initiative. Her reason for giving notice was that she was so overcome with joy when Hitler invaded France she felt she had to go back to the fatherland in order to join the Fuhrer in celebration. What if any effect this early experience with authority had on Charles is impossible to know, but it’s interesting that his lifetime preoccupation would become crusading against authoritarianism while running a business over which he exerted absolute control. . . .

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