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Entrance to the Ploetzensee prison. At Ploetzensee, the Nazis executed hundreds of Germans for opposition to Hitler, including many of the participants in the July 20, 1944, plot to kill Hitler. Berlin, Germany, postwar.
Walter was born in Kassel, north central Germany, but grew up in the Rhineland. As a youth, Walter questioned the German superiority and antisemitism he was taught. His father, an anti-Nazi, refused to allow Walter to enter one of the Adolf Hitler Schools, but did permit him to join the Hitler Youth. However, Walter's rebellious streak led him to hide a Jewish friend in his basement. He also formed a gang that played pranks on young Nazis and helped French prisoners of war. They called themselves Edelweiss Pirates (as did other groups of opposition youth in Germany). In 1943 Walter was caught taking shoes from a bombed-out store, arrested, and imprisoned. He was eventually deported to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp, where he was forced to work in the stone quarry. In 1945, Walter contracted tuberculosis and decided to escape before he was killed. Under cover of heavy fog, he reached a farmhouse. The farmer gave him his son's army uniform and helped him board a train home to Duesseldorf. Walter recovered after hospitalization, and later moved to the United States.
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