Not what I was going to write about today…but it must be said. By me.
I’m not particularly proud of any of my national affiliations. Being born German I came face to face with that again today. NBC carried a news report from The New York Times about a French priest, Father Desbois, who has gathered verbal reports from the Jewish Holocaust in the Ukraine.
Growing up in Germany after the war, we were exposed to documentaries detailing the horrors we inflicted on Jews, Gypsies and anyone who did not fit the standards of the German leaders. Some us us learned and internalized the lessons, some did not.
To me nationalism is one of the great evils. “My country/territory, its people/race, its history, its culture, its language are special.” Nationalism claims that national loyalty overrides local loyalties, and all other loyalties to family, friends, profession, religion, or class. In other words, suspend your right to think for yourself and judge for yourself, and follow blindly. In the name of national loyalty we have murdered people for the length of recorded history and before that.
And Germans hold a special spot on the list of slaughterers.
Tonight’s report went into detail of how people were herded alive into mass graves and a large number was simply buried alive. The eye witnesses spoke of the earth moving over the graves.
I will never understand how a human being can do this to another living being, human or animal. How did they keep from throwing up at the sight of what they were doing? How could they not reach out the help? How could they ever sleep again?
Maybe I should extend my disgust from my national affiliations to affiliation to the human race as such. We seem to be able to produce more vile specimen than any other member of Earth’s living community.
Think about what your or your government’s actions do to other people. People who might be different on the outside, but inside, love and laugh and suffer just like you.
I’m still on yesterday’s subject….
I can’t get the pictures out of my mind. The pictures drawn by the words of eye witnesses.
I woke up thinking about my generation of Germans. The post-war babies. I believe I owe an apology to the men my age. I always felt they were kind of wimpy, so worried about being politically and socially correct that decision making seemed to be an agonizing process. On second thought, we are our parents’ children. We grew up knowing that they had inflicted untold horrors on other people. We all hoped that it were some other person’s parents, not our own. But it was someone! And no one ever owned up. Yes, there were some of the upper level politicians and a few ordinary citizens who were prosecuted, but the vast majority walked away with not much more than a bad conscience. One hopes – at least that. So the men of my generation listened and learned as they grew up. They don’t want to do as their fathers did.
Which gets me to my parents.
My father never got rid of his demons. I don’t think even my mother fully knows the extend of what he did or not did or failed to do during the war. I know him as a hater of Jews and not having much tolerance for most others either. I always wondered if the hate and disrespect he professed to have was his way of coping with the injustice he had inflicted on these people. Maybe he could never elevate them to human level because the then would have to acknowledge that he killed human beings.
My mother is significantly younger than my father and therefore was under age when the war ended. She did know about some of what really happened. She and her first husband secretly listened behind locked doors to the BBC. She never even told her own mother for fear of her life.
So here’s a thought: The next time your government wants to put people into indefinite detention without recourse by designating them enemy combatants, think about where that can lead. After all the government can also determine what is the treason that makes you an enemy combatant.
For my mother the simple act of listening the the ”enemy’s” radio would have been treason.