Inside Werner Herzog’s War-Torn And Impoverished Childhood

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Werner Herzog’s life in the village wasn’t easy. He grew up without his father, who was in the war and later became a POW, according to Herzog’s 1998 NPR interview. When he was 4 or 5, he found a cache of weapons left by fleeing German soldiers. “I had a working submachine gun and … tried to hunt a crow because I wanted to make a soup, I was so hungry,” he recounted. His mother caught him and demonstrated how dangerous the weapon he’d found was by firing a round through a beechwood log.

But even with the family’s dire circumstances, Herzog had the freedom to roam through the countryside and fish for trout, away from the war that raged all around them. “I had a wonderful childhood,” he told NPR. At 11, he saw his first film when a “traveling projectionist” came to his rural village, per the CBC — an event that would lead Herzog to his chosen career.

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