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« Election 2008: The Morning After | Main | Fall Movie Round-Up »

November 09, 2008


Danny, very disturbing. Some historians think that FDR was single mindedly trying to win a war and refused to be sidetracked by what was happening to the Jews. I don't believe it. By the way, I notice you have somewhat of an interest in Jews and the Holocaust. Had it long? Anyway, thank you for prompting me to honor this tragic anniversary.

A wonderful post, Danny. And the parrallels (?) to the present are kind of scary...No, I don't mean the looting and detroying of homes and businesses, but the ideology of the Religious Right and the passing of Prop 8 here in California and the speaking of gays as an abomination, etc....What's next?

It is depressingly fascinating to think that so many countries COULD have done something, yet didn't--including our country! As has been said many times before: "WE MUST NEVER FORGET". Your post is important on so very many levels and not the least of which is reminding us to remember what happened 70 years ago and be aware of the dangers of the real possibility that these kinds of things could happen again.

I have never understood why humans have such capacity to be inhumane. And just downright stupid. Rational thought seems to give way to primal beastial response far too easily. We might vow to never forget but we don't seem to be able to stop these things from happening either (Sudan? Sierra Leone?)

I was shocked the day after the election to read a diatribe comparing the rise of Obama to the rise of Hitler and predicting dire times ahead for the white race in America. Why, after all this time and widespread availability of primary education, do we persist in having such stupidity and intolerance? With widespread exposure to media and other points of view why can't we counter this basic fear of the "other"? If anyone has a solution I'd sure like to know. My kids will be draftable in another decade...

I remembered this day, and last night reminded my husband who grew up without grandparents, aunts or uncles due to these inhuman Nazis. His mother, stuck in Austria with her mortgage broker Mother could not easily leave, and after her mother was worked to death, was arrested (for refusing to tell where the family jewels were)and later put in Ravensbruck. His father, having been recognized at an early Nazi rally for blowing his car horn blocking speakers' voices in Rockhausen Germany, had already escaped to Belgium where he started a business before escaping one step ahead of the Nazis til he was able to leave the Iberian peninsula claiming, he was a friend of Bernard Baruch (his cousin had the same name as Roosevelt's advisor.His family wouldn't believe how bad Hitler was until it was too late. I wish we could stop the murders in Africa, and not being able to do it, reminds me of what happened in Europe during WW2. Our lives went on quite normally when all those atrocities were taking place.

That is so tragic, and has happened on different levels all over the world.

Back when Jesus was alive, all of those so-called Christians would have hated him, because he was Jewish. It's so dumb, and horrible.

Since my girls are part Jewish, part Mexican, and part Irish, and we live in Iowa, we talk about ethnic oppression a lot. It's such a sad history, I hope it doesn't become a part of our future too.

Thank you, Danny. That was as profoundly educational and enlightening as it was disturbing and sad. I learned from you today, even if it's from a dark time in our history, and learning is always good even when it's distressful.

Would that mankind could learn from these tragic eras the lamentable and unforgivable lesson of what comes from such hate and bigotry. But we don't learn, do we? We go right on choosing new targets when the old are taken from us by enlightenment, if not also--or only--by law.

I truly believe Germany owes an eternal debt to the Jewish people, and Chancellor Merkel's comments are welcome. But your post reminds me that it isn't just Germany who owes that debt, it's every country that turned a blind eye to the horrors that were occurring.

Jen asks how such stupidity and intolerance can continue in this day and age. And I feel it's because we give it voice. We do a disservice when we put a Holocaust survivor on television with a Holocaust denier. They are not equal. But by allowing the denier equal presence, we give credence to their beliefs.

Freedom of speech is something I cherish. I truly do. But screaming "fire" in a public building when there is none is the same, to me, as allowing hate mongers the privilege of spewing their vile on radio or television.

When someone says something that is outrageous and hate filled it is our duty to stand up to them.

If we don't, then we risk repeating Germany in the 30s and 40s all over again.

Sorry to go slightly off-topic, but right after I read your post on Kristallnacht I stumbled by accident onto a story about the Mormon church's attempts to baptize by proxy Jews who died in the Holocaust. Am I the only person who didn't know about this? Or is this merely one of many bizarre behind-the-scenes things happening that everyone knows about but gets lost in the shuffle?

Between this and their support for Prop 8 I have a new-found lack of respect for the LDS.

Here's a link to the story for anyone who's clueless like me.

Wow, that is bizarre, I hadn't heard of that practice. What's up with the Mormons lately? Is this their revenge for "Big Love?"

I echo the thanks, Danny. I really got a lot out of your article. And as an FYI, the mormons are pretty bad - look at what they've done to scouting in america for one thing. It's a great example of a minority with a lot of money exercising an undue amount of influence through the perpetuation of fear and hatred. Oh, and all in the name of God. Why does God hate so many people but only whisper about it in the ears of a few (who are to spread the word)? It just begs the question, if you were god wouldn't you make yourself a happy dude?

There's an amazing exhibit now at the U. Chicago's Regenstein Library (my home away from home) that shows how German Jews looked down on the Eastern European brethren as the lice-ridden, corrupt sort that gave all Jews in Germany a bad name. After World War I, many Eastern European Jews found themselves in Germany, thanks to their flight from destroyed shtetls or redrawn borders.

The documents in the Regenstein exhibit show how German Jews thought that raising the shtetl Jew to full German status would change the German mind about the Jewish population. German Jewish efforts to (alternately) lift up and distance themselves from their brethren foreshadowed how Germany's ambivalence toward **all** its Jews was turning into something more sinister.

The Jews who considered themselves German first -- fully assimilated and acculturated Jews, accomplished professionals, esteemed leaders; even people who had a Jewish grandparent -- were marched off to the camps, never to return.

Thanks for a great summary of a low moment in modern history.

I was surprised by Ken's comments above. Not that the practice occurred, as it's a common Mormon practice to baptize dead family members. But I am surprised that the agreement reached over 10 years ago wasn't as solid as I thought it was. I was under the impression that the LDS church stopped baptizing those who died in the Holocaust.

For the spokesperson of the church to claim that having to stop baptizing these victims somehow restricts their religious practices would be laughable if it weren't so painful to survivors and family members.

The LDS church really should just change their beliefs on this. After all, they had little problem changing their stance on polygamy after the government forcefully objected to the practice.

And more recently (1978) they finally changed their beliefs and allowed black skinned people to become full members of their church.

Yeah, I think the least they could do is keep their faith to themselves.

It boggles my mind whenever I hear people say that German citizens and the rest of the world didn’t know what was happening to the Jews until after the war.

Me too! And I am personally ashamed to have, on tape, my own mother (who is 87 and lives in northern France), and her husband, my stepfather (who is 94), asserting that "they knew nothing of what was happening to the Jews until after the war." I personally cannot believe that assertion. No matter what. And I lost a lot of the respect I may have had for my mother and her husband when they uttered those words. Maybe their denial is a coping mechanism against an insurmountable amount of guilt for knowing, and having done nothing at the time.

Thanks for a great post, Danny.


I was looking for my friend and colleague's blog My Bitter Agenda by Skip Williamson on Google when I click on your blog. I did a little 36 page graphic Novel recently dealing with some of this from within the German High Command resistance movement. Below is a little advanced satirical pr I did. I hope you are not offended by it. I was not going to post this but when I read everything i thought maybe I would, of course you can take it down if you think it is inappropiate. I am an old underground cartoonist from Chicago and i did my piece in 1983-84. But when I reproduce it this month in 2008 it noticed it was really like 1938, well here is my analogy to your post:
Once upon a time, a slick, little known Politician became the Prime Minister of a very powerful nation in Europe, a nation of scientific genius in every field known to mankind, a nation so far ahead of the rest of the world that it seemed there would be no stopping it from doing whatever that Nation wanted to do. So clever was this leader that his popularity soared throughout the Nation by leaps and bounds. Only in a few quarters of that Nation was there any outcry or mistrust in the Leader and his Party. Those few that stood up and denounced the Leader became subject to investigation, interrogation and incarceration.
Not long after this carefully planned ascent to Power came about that the rest of the World began to wonder what the fuss was about? Seeing their moment in the Sun had arrived, the Leader began holding hugh mass rallies to demonstrate the strength and Power of the Party he represented and the kind of "New Order" that he wanted for the country and the World. This was the image that they wanted to project to the whole world what the future would be like, with their Nation and their Party and their ideals as the Supreme Nation in all areas of life. So this grand scheme of things got kick started by assassinating a certain segment of gay members of their own Party who threatened the success of the "movement" towards the goal of this Great New Society of God Men.
Rather than arrest each one of this publicly embarrassing, unruly "perverted" segment of the Party individually and then holding trumped up trials for treason or insurrection,or whatever, the Leader said "let's just spring on them in the middle of the night in their gay spas and kill them in cold blood". The Leadership of the Party agreed that this would be the best solution to the " Immoral Gay Threat" the Nation faced in the coming months and years. So, they did it, taking their own party members, who once had been friends and allies, by surprise, at gun point executing all in one night, many in their beds with their lovers who had to be killed as well.
The people of the Nation watched and went about their business as though it was commonplace now that the Future had arrived and that their new Party would have to do things like this now and in the future to maintain the new State from threats from within and from without.
Again, a few in the Nation stood their ground against this kind of criminal violence by the Party to their own peril. But most of the people wanted to hear the positive side of these negative criminal acts and thus entered the greatest Spin Doctor of all time, or maybe one of the best if not the best of the Best.
The Spin Dr. explained to the Nation in common language, everyday over the pro Party Media outlets that these steps were necessary to insure the Peace and Security of the Nation as a whole as well as for the safety of the Leader, now commonly accepted as the Beloved Leader, the Adored Leader, and even the Worshipped Leader.
His Worship, the Leader himself accepted His new role as Supreme Head of The New God Men Party, the NGMP as it was affectately known by insiders and began hosting hugh Worship Services at Night through out the nation to glorify Himself and the NGMP. They were called the TorchLight Services of NGMP because they used fire lit torches in their parades lighting up the night like a Macabre Fourth of July parade. The difference was, they did it almost as often as they could, not just once a year on Halloween.
Then the NGMP decided to pass laws against a rather large wealthy minority Race of people in the Nation whom they (NGMP) despised and hated. Instead of just announcing that they would raise taxes in the near future on this small group of very rich minority citizens, the Party decided that acquisition by confiscation of that wealth was faster and more effective. Again a small group of non Party government officials that formed Resistance cells, began to make plans to overthrow the NGMP at the earliest opportunity. Of course the biggest obstacle was the NGMP Secret Police which was constantly looking for any and all opposition to their efforts to create the Perfect God Man State which, by the way, denied the existence of all other Gods including the God of the despised wealthy minority Race, accepting only the Party's own God, The Leader Himself.
So the Resistance within the bureaucracy of the pre-existing government, had to work, on the one hand, as though they were all for the NGMP Party's new laws and attitudes about racial superiority and hatred of the despised wealthy minority Race, while seeking legal grounds to overthrow the Party and arrest the leaders as well as their God Man Leader, the Beloved One with out being caught by the Secret Police in the process.
Finally after five years of hard work putting together a strong case against the NGMP for trying to involve the Nation in an insane effort to start another World War, the Resistance cells' top leaders in the Justice Ministry, the Army and The Navy saw their moment to arrest and try the Leader and top NGMP followers before the Supreme Court in the summer of 1938. What happened next will shock and stun the World...............But it did not end there......

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