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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Carson and the Holocaust’

 

“The mindset that Jews surrendered with their guns is far more important than the hardware turned over: They surrendered the demonstrated intention at all costs, to desist being deprived of liberty” Dr. Keith Ablow, Fox News commentator

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On April 1, 1933, the Nazi party called for a boycott of all Jewish owned businesses in Germany. Richard Stern, a Jew, as well as a decorated German veteran from World War I, stood in the doorway of his bedding store, wearing his Iron Cross, and passing out leaflets he had printed condemning the actions of the ruling Nazi party. He was arrested. Fortunately he had friends at the police headquarters who had him released. Richard Stern was my father’s uncle, but in reality his father – his mother’s brother and the man who raised him as his parents were divorced. For all intents and purposes, Richard Stern was my grandfather, a genuine hero who although passing in 1967, inspires me to this very day.

Like most German Jews Richard Stern could not believe that the country in which Jews had lived, prospered and assimilated, would actually become crazy enough to carry out the radical ideas expressed by Hitler and the Nazi party. He had faith in the democratic system of Germany. The Jewish success story in Germany was exceeded only by the Jewish success story in America. He was active in the Social Democratic party, a mainstream party. He had faith that his friends and neighbors, with whom he fought alongside in World War I, would reject the crazy ideology that would eventually lead to the slaughter of 6 million Jews and another 6 million people who the Nazis deemed unfit to live.

The rise of the Nazis began through the German electoral system. They reached the peak of their electoral success in July 1932 when they won 37% of the vote. But Hitler refused to form a governing coalition with any other German political party. So the President of Germany, Paul von Hindenberg, appointed Franz von Papen as chancellor. As Papen could not govern without sufficient support in the Reichstag, a new election was called for November 1932. Support for the Nazi party actually decreased to 33%. Nevertheless, Hitler convinced Hindenberg to appoint him as chancellor. The result was devastating.

Hitler engineered new elections called for March 5, 1933. With Hitler as the head of the government, the Nazi storm troopers had free reign to attack and oppress their political opposition. Just 6 days before the election, the German parliamentary building, the Reichstag, was burned down. Hitler used that to gain special dictatorial powers and further suppressed the voting support of opposition parties. Yet the Nazis still did not win a majority, polling 44 % in the March 5, 1933 elections.

In addition, the initial action against the Jews; the boycott of Jewish businesses, was not very successful. Germans still bought from their Jewish friends and neighbors. No, the real oppression came after a steady campaign by the Nazis to demonize anyone who disagreed with the Fuhrer, who opposed the Nazi party in any way. Indeed, another relative of mine, Emil Romberg of Essen, Germany, was a leader of the Social Democratic party and was beaten to death by the Nazis. So by November 1933 it was no surprise that the Nazis won every seat in those Reichstag elections.

The reign of terror had truly begun.

In September 1935 the Nuremberg laws were passed, institutionalizing a vast array of anti Jewish practices. The Jewish community was stunned. Some realized the need to leave Germany. My mother’s family was able to immigrate to America in 1936. My father, his mother, and Uncle Richard wanted to go to Palestine, but could not gain permission to enter. Most German Jews, however, still clung to the belief that the craziness of the Nazis was a passing phase. Most could not understand how their homeland, the country they loved and to which they dedicated their loyalty, could see them as criminals, as undesirables.

We can, however, learn how this happened. Just visit the museum, “A Topography of Terror” in Berlin. It gives in full detail, with unvarnished honesty, how the Nazis succeeded at convincing a populace to follow the Nazis. Hitler promised to restore the “real Germany,” the one of power and status. He promised to rid Germany of unwanted alien elements. He spoke of true German values and staged massive, extremely effective demonstrations to demonstrate his popularity. He condemned all opposition as disloyal, not truly “German.” By the time of Krystalnacht in 1938, it was a country gone insane. By the way, in this analysis of the success of the Nazi rise to power, guns are not mentioned at all.

The ownership of guns, you see, is pretty much an afterthought in understanding the success of the Nazis in 1930’s Germany. There can be little effective resistance to the brainwashing effects of propaganda when the value of “patriotism” is used to silence political opposition and the shut down the free press. The Nazis did not prevent opposition because they had more guns, but because they controlled the dissemination of information. They controlled the media of the day.

Does any of this sound a bit familiar? I would argue that the ideas being perpetrated by the hard right, the xenophobia about Mexicans and Muslims, the chest thumping patriotism, are far more likely to lead us down the road to Nazism than any proposed or even yet to be proposed gun law. And I say that as someone who is not against responsible citizens owning guns.

Talking about the Holocaust in terms of gun issues is a gross distortion of history. Even worse, it dishonors the memories of those who suffered that tragedy, through the implication that somehow the victims were to blame, that somehow they could have done more than try to survive the confusing times in which they found themselves; that they could and should have been examples of 21st century radical right wing ideology instead of just innocent German Jewish citizens. And, it dishonors the memory of those Jews, who, like my Uncle Richard Stern, did stand up and protest. Enough of the idiotic comparisons that tramples on the dignity of the victims. Enough of rewriting history to suit your political agenda.

So to you, Ben Carson, Keith Ablow and Fox News – just shut up.

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