I’m fully aware there will be readers of this column very angry about what I have written. But I assure you, no one will be more angry reading it than I am writing it.
Is the implication history could be repeating itself outrageous? No such abuse and diminishing of human life is possible like in the past? Americans wouldn’t let it happen? Will you simply dismiss the issues raised, immune to any reference to Nazism since the term has been thrown around without any serious consideration or understanding of its historic context? The “Nazis were bad so anyone I consider bad is a Nazi” syndrome?
Nazis in Germany used government for two primary tools to target their chosen enemy, the Jewish people: terrorism and propaganda. Through propaganda and media control they convinced average Germans that Jewish people among them were enemies. The government organized a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses so they would fail, forcibly manipulating non-Jewish ownership. Government identified a target of hate and exploited it to achieve its goals.
This is from facinghistory.org: “Edwin Landau described what it was like in his hometown. ... On the Friday before the boycott, he recalled, ‘One saw the SA (storm troopers) marching through the city with its banners: ‘The Jews are our misfortune.’ ‘Against the Jewish atrocity propaganda abroad.’
“He also wrote about the day of the boycott: ‘In the morning hours the Nazi guards began to place themselves in front of the Jewish shops and factories, and every shopper was warned not to buy from the Jews. In front of our business, also, two young Nazis posted themselves and prevented customers from entering. To me the whole thing seemed inconceivable. It would not sink in that something like that could even be possible in the 20th century, for such things had happened, at most, in the Middle Ages. And yet it was the bitter truth that outside, in front of the door, there stood two boys in brown shirts, Hitler’s executives.’”
Laws were passed in Germany that progressively removed rights from German Jews. The Nuremberg Laws took away the right to vote, get medical treatment and go to public places.
Gun control was used by the German Nazi government to prohibit the Jews’ self-defense. It was made much easier by gun registration that previously identified every person who owned a gun.
This is from the National Review: “SS chief Heinrich Himmler decreed that 20 years be served in a concentration camp by any Jew possessing a firearm. Rusty revolvers and bayonets from the Great War were confiscated from Jewish veterans who had served with distinction. Twenty thousand Jewish men were thrown into concentration camps, and had to pay ransoms to get released.
“The U.S. media covered the above events. And when France fell to Nazi invasion in 1940, The New York Times reported that the French were deprived of rights such as free speech and firearm possession just as the Germans had been. Frenchmen who failed to surrender their firearms within 24 hours were subject to the death penalty. No wonder that in 1941, just days before the Pearl Harbor attack, Congress reaffirmed Second Amendment rights and prohibited gun registration.”
Jews couldn’t be citizens in Germany. The T4 program ensured Hitler’s goal of a “purified race.” It targeted “imperfect” mentally and physically disabled people for a “good death.” Many believe the acceptance of this led to the lack of resistance to mass genocide in German concentration camps. Rewards and incentives were established, encouraging the population to report to government any actions or behaviors demonstrating a lack of allegiance to government policies.
Hitler’s government viewed the world’s conflicts as race-based and genocide as the resolution. Preceded by progressive discrimination imposed by degree, genocide was not met with much resistance among the population. Fear for most ruled conscience. Better to go about your business quietly than be noticed for disagreement. After all, those being targeted deserved it because they were “privileged” and responsible for keeping you down.
In “What Happened After the Liberation of Auschwitz?,” Erin Blakemore wrote: ”What was it that led Nazi Germany to create such a symbol of inhumanity, a place of infamy? In a matter of a few short years, it transformed a sleepy Silesian town into the greatest site of mass killing the world has ever known.” Seventy-five years after the Holocaust, he fears it would be all too easy to get on the road to Auschwitz again.
How far are we from a government declaration that some citizens are worthy of torture and death? What rights are already limited for some, imposed by degree?
The answer should deeply trouble you, take your breath away, shake you to your core and convince you to fight for this nation’s unique liberty and intended limited government.
It should, but does it?
Holly Audette is a small-business owner in Elizabeth City active in political and civic causes.