Went Beyond Our Borders
Aside from being Scottish, the one Western democracy that I admire a great deal is Germany. I have been to Germany many times especially before the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and reunification after the Cold War and WWII. While in college, I took two years of German from Frau Evans, who lived through WWII not far from Dachau. She married an American officer that she met at the end of the war. When we discussed the war in class, she told the class that the Allies forced the Germans to visit the concentration camp. She expressed surprise that the German military were so monstrous to have places like Dachau. I don’t recall what others thought about her comment, but I couldn’t believe that a German didn’t know what was happening in her backyard.
While in college, graduate school, and post-graduate school, I continued to wonder about the average German’s seeming oblivion to the atrocities of Hitler and the Third Reich. I understand that some things would have gone unnoticed, but there were so many examples of sheer barbarism that some things should have been picked up by German citizens’ personal radar screens. Things like racism and xenophobia should have surfaced merely by listening to Hitler. Apparently, Hitler was playing to his base.
Frau Evans wasn’t the only German national that I have known. I knew a German couple who were my parents’ age. The husband served during WWII as did my father. The German was captured by the Russians during the Battle of Stalingrad. A quarter of a century after Stalingrad, he could laugh at the German war effort. However, he didn’t recognize or mention the atrocities. He spoke about waking up one morning outside of Stalingrad with the end of a rifle pressing against his forehead. He laughed about the person holding the rifle was a woman. Nonetheless, could he have been oblivious to places like Dachau?
During the summer before I studied at the U. of Edinburgh, I stayed in a home of an old Hausfrau who lived in Salzburg, Austria. She would talk about the excitement that she felt as a teenager when Hitler annexed Austria. She talked about the parades and sheer delight that all the people saw in Hitler.
I could go on with examples of seeming Germanic oblivion regarding Hitler and the Nazis. One could argue that they felt it but wouldn’t want to admit it to an American. After all, we were responsible for defeating Hitler. However, by the end of the war, the German soldiers wanted to be captured by the Americans and certainly not by the Russians. After the war, Germany was divided into four zones controlled by Americans, British, French, and Russians. All Germans wanted to be in the American zone.
What troubles me wasn’t merely the abuses but also the apparent not understanding the senseless deaths that Germans caused especially to innocent civilians across all of Europe, Russia, and North Africa. Hitler was supported by his basis for much of the war despite this truth.
That is the backstory. However, we are dealing in America with Donald the Dumb and his fake presidency. The parallels between Hitler by only speaking to the base and Donald the Dumb are startling. Hardly anyone from the Republican party questions him, except for Sen. Corker. Trump has done nothing in nearly a year as president except to act the fool to our country and to the rest of the world.
It is either ignorance of or agreement with Trump that allows his base and the Republicans to go along with the village idiot. As a result of my dancingwith death, I realize that my clock is ticking. The one thing that is etchedinto my mind due to the dances is the word, LEGACY. In the next couple of decades, I will have gotten to the end of my yellow brick road. What will remain of me after I am gone is my legacy.
Hitler is remembered as a tyrant. How will Trump be remembered? Trump is a narcissistic racist, who doesn’t like blacks, Mexican, Muslim, etc.
Since Europeans landed in North America, we have had many problems with racism. Either we have been blatantly racist with slavery and segregation, or we turned a blind eye to it and said nothing.
Tragically, our indifference hurt blacks and other racial minorities. That is obvious. Nonetheless, what isn’t obvious is that our attitude taught others outside of the US how to deal with their racism. In the mid-1930s, the Nazis were excellent students. The Nuremberg Laws used American racism toward blacks as a prototype for their laws toward Jews.
The lawyers, who wrote documents like the Nuremberg Laws, used Jim Crow laws as the basis for doing the same for German Jews. James Whitman, who teaches at Yale Law School, wrote Hitler’s American Model. It describes how Jim Crow laws were their legal underpinning for the Nuremberg Laws, in particular, and other related laws of the Third Reich.
However, the Nazis admired American racism towards blacks, but most blacks were poor and Hitler believed that most Jews were wealthy. In addition, most blacks didn’t have power or control in our society, and most Jews did, according to Hitler. Therefore, the Nazis had to push discrimination beyond the American example.
Nonetheless, the Nazis followed the laws of most states prohibiting interracial marriages. Whitman wrote, “America had, by a wide margin, the harshest law of this kind. In particular, some of the state laws threatened severe criminal punishment for interracial marriage. That was something radical Nazis were very eager to do in Germany as well.”
Children of mixed marriages in America or Nazi Germany was another issue. America was stricter when it came to who was black than Germany was regarding who was Jewish. In America, one black parent made the child black. In Nazi Germany, if you had three or more Jewish grandparents, you were Jewish.
Germany faced their mistakes of the past. However, America, under Donald the Dumb, is reliving our despicable past. His base accepts his ideas as do the Republications with few exceptions. Why don’t they stand up to Donald the Dumb? What are they afraid of?
Well, Shakespeare offered a warning to them, “Cowards die many times before their deaths / The valiant never taste of death but once.”
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