It would have been easy to turn a blind eye, but Fr.Lichtenberg didn’t.

Fr Lichtenberg

It would be so easy for ordinary citizens to turn a blind eye to the Holocaust, and indeed many did. I do not judge these people, because  faced with a similar situation I don’t know how I would react. Anyone who was critical against the Nazi regime, could face a prison sentence of worse death. And it really didn’t take that much to be sentenced to death. I can therefore understand why people ignored the things happening around them, for many it was a way to ensure survival.

There were those though how saw the injustice and evil and spoke out against it publicly. People like the Catholic Priest Fr. Bernhard Lichtenberg.

Ever since the Nazis came to power he spoke out against them. After the pogrom of November 9, 1938,known as Kristallnacht he said the following public prayer in the St. Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin.

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“We know what was yesterday. We do not know what will be tomorrow. But we have experienced what happened today. Outside, the Temple is burning. That is also a House of God.”

Lichtenberg  prayed publicly for the persecuted Jews at the daily Vespers service. Bishop Konrad von Preysing later entrusted Lichtenberg with the task of helping the Jewish community of the city, via the Welfare Office of the Berlin Diocesan Authority (“Hilfswerk”). In theory non-Aryan Christians were to be supported by the “Fund”. However  the aid was provided to every Jewish citizen who contacted the office.

Lichtenberg protested in person to Nazi officials against the arrest and killing of the sick and mentally ill.In 1941 he wrote a letter to the  chief physician of the Reich, Minister of Public Health Leonardo Conti, in relation to the T4 euthanasia program.

Conti

“I, as a human being, a Christian, a priest, and a German, demand of you, Chief Physician of the Reich, that you answer for the crimes that have been perpetrated at your bidding, and with your consent, and which will call forth the vengeance of the Lord on the heads of the German people.”

Initially the Nazis saw him more of a nuisance then a threat but his  efforts to help the Jews and his calls to put an end to the immoral actions of the Nazis grew stronger. To silence him, the Nazis arrested him on October 23, 1941, and was sentenced to 2 years in prison.But because of his unyielding opposition he was sent to Dachau. However he never reached Dachau.He collapsed and died while in transit, on 5 November 1943 in Hof, Bavaria.

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He died for being a decent Human being , who spoke out about the evil he saw around him.

I am not a Catholic and I don’t believe in saints but of I had to believe in saints, he would be top of my list.

On 7 July 2004 Yad Vashem recognized Bernhard Lichtenberg as a Righteous Among the Nations.

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Sources

The Second World War: A Complete History

Bundesarchiv

Yad Vashem

 

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The Jewish typewriter salesman who recommended Hitler for an Iron cross.

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I have to confess that the the title is somewhat misleading because Hugo Gutmann was not a typewriter salesman as of yet when he recommended Hitler’s award of the Iron Cross First Class.

Hugo Gutmann was one of the 12,000 Jewish military who fought for Germany during WWI.

from 29 January to 31 August, 1918 Lt. Gutmann was Adolf Hitler’s commanding officer.

Hitler on the right

Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross, 1st Class, for his role as a messenger, running important information between units under fire. The decoration was given to Hitler on  August 4th, 1918,  by the regimental commander, Major von Tubeuf The 2 decorations Hitler only wore were his Iron Cross, and his Nazi Party Badge.

On 8 February 1919, Gutmann left  the German Army, but still was registered army rolls as a reserve lieutenant. In 1933, he applied  for and received his military pension – which had been protected,  for all veterans including Jewish veterans ,by President  Paul von Hindenburg. Despite the anti Jewish laws and losing his German citizenship  Gutmann was allowed to keep his pension.

Around the time of the ‘Kristallnacht’ in autumn 1938, he was arrested by the Gestapo, but SS officers who know him  and  his  relationship with Hitler had him released from custody.

But regardless  this relationship, eventually his fate would have been the same as all other Jews in Germany and the occupied territories.

In 1939, Gutmann and his family moved to  Belgium . In 1940  just prior to the invasion of the Low Countries,the Gutmanns immigrated to the United States. They initially settled  in St. Louis where Hugo secured employment  as a typewriter salesman. In the US  he changed his name to Henry George Grant. He died in San Diego, California, on 22 June 1962. He was buried at Home of Peace Cemetery in San Diego.

Hugo

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Max Schmeling-defying an evil regime

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Often the psyche of people is that they see what they want  to see. They see a headline or a picture and they will have made up their minds. There is no further need for more details on the background story, they have enough to work with and make up their own story.

For example people will see the picture of Max Schmeling above giving the Nazi salute and they will just assume that Max clearly was a Nazi sympathizer.

Or they see the picture below of Max Shchmeling being warmly received by   Adolf Hitler and immediately they will think that Max was one of Hitler’s best buddies and favourite sports man. But on both occasions they could not be much further from the truth.

Max and AH

Truth is that Max Schmeling also saw things but he did not like what he saw and refused to join the Nazi party, which would have consequences for him. Not only did he not join the Nazi party he also saved a few Jewish boys and refused to fire his Jewish boxing promoter Joe Jacobs.

Max was a world champion heavyweight fighter from Germany whose two fights with Joe Louis transcended boxing and became worldwide political events because of their racial and international significance.

I will not go into Max’s boxing career. I will only focus on 2 matches ,both against the boxing legend Joe Louis.

On Friday 19, June 1936 Max Schmeling beat Joe Louis in the Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, USA

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Less then 2 years later in the same venue on Wednesday 22, June 1938, Joe Louis got his revenge and beat Max Schmeling and took back the World Heavyweight Title. The fight had been  portrayed as the battle of the Aryan versus the Black, a struggle of evil against good .When Louis regained his title, Hitler took Schmeling’s defeat as an embarrassment to the nation.

In an interview in 1975 ,Schmeling remembered the defeat: “Looking back, I’m almost happy I lost that fight. Just imagine if I would have come back to Germany with a victory. I had nothing to do with the Nazis, but they would have given me a medal. After the war I might have been considered a war criminal.”

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During the 1938 November Pogrom-Kristallnacht- Max hid the 2 sons of his Jewish friend David Lewin. He hid the 2 boys ,Henry and Werner, in his apartment at the Excelsior Hotel in Berlin. Schmeling had told the front desk of the Hotel that he was ill and was not to be disturbed.

After things had calmed down Schmeling helped the 2 boys flee the country. The boys escaped to the United States, where Henri got a great career in managing Hotels, including the Hilton in Las Vegas.Henri Lewin was convinced  that he and his brother owe their lives to Schmeling and he sincerely believed that Schmeling himself could have died for saving them.

In 1923 Schmeing had hired Jewish New York born boxing promoter Joe Jacobs. Hitler had demanded that Schmeling would fire Jacobs, Schmeling refused to do so.

Because his refusal of joining the Nazi party ,he was him drafted into the Paratroopers and was sent him on very dangerous missions.He did partake in the Battle of Crete in May 1941, where he was wounded in his right knee by mortar fire shrapnel during the first day of the battle. After recovering, he was dismissed from active service after being deemed medically unfit for duty because of his injury.

Max remained a close friend of Joe Louis and even paid for Joe’s funeral in 1981. and became a successful business man in Germany after the war. He had been hired by Coca Cola to run the company  in Germany, .

He only once gave the Nazi salute and regretted it for the remainder of his life. He died on February 2, 2005.

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The November pogrom-Kristall nacht.

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This is not meant to be an accusation because since I didn’t live in those times, I just don’t know how I would have reacted.

It is however something that has intrigued me.How come the majority of the Germans and Austrians did not see how wrong the November pogrom was? I can nearly understand why they turned a blind eye to the boycott of Jewish shops and even the occasional attack on Jews, they probably thought it was just a few extreme right thugs who carried out those attacks. But Kristall nacht was not just some vandalism, it was a direct nationwide assault on religion and an act of war against the Jews.

During the Night 9-10 November, hundreds of synagogues were destroyed in Austria, Germany, and Sudetenland.

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While the synagogues were burning, firemen were instructed only to stop the  fires if nearby buildings were threatened by the flames.

At least 91 Jewish citizens were killed and about 30,000 Jewish men were arrested.The excuse used for these attacks was the shooting of diplomat Ernst vom Rath by 17 year old Jewish student Herschel Grynszpan, in Paris.

But in the 1930’s in Germany there had been many other assassinations and they never triggered widespread violence as the November pogrom.

Hugh Greene who worked as a reporter for  The Daily Telegraph in Berlin, wrote the following:

“Mob law ruled in Berlin throughout the afternoon and evening and hordes of hooligans indulged in an orgy of destruction. I have seen several anti-Jewish outbreaks in Germany during the last five years, but never anything as nauseating as this. Racial hatred and hysteria seemed to have taken complete hold of otherwise decent people. I saw fashionably dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee, while respectable middle-class mothers held up their babies to see the ‘fun'”

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To add insult to injury ,after the event the Jewish community was forced to pay for the damage caused to the synagogues and properties, They were  fined 10 billion Reichsmarks.

If Kristallnacht wasn’t an indication of what the Nazis had planned for the Jews, then what was. There was still time to put a halt to it then, but it seems people had just become to indifferent by then.

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The Leica Freedom Train

LeicaFreedomTrain

When the Nazis came to power in Germany there were plenty of business men and women who saw opportunities.

Some of them saw opportunities in exploiting the environment created by the NSDAP, especially in relation to the ‘Jewish Question’ they would actively help the Nazis for their own betterment.

On the other hand there were those who saw opportunities to do good and help those most affected by the Nazi regime. Ernst Leitz II and his family  were among those who used their influence and contacts to do good.

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Ernst Leitz’s optics company, founded in Wetzlar in 1869, had a tradition of enlightened behavior toward its workers. Pensions, sick leave, health insurance — all were instituted early on at Leitz, which depended for its work force upon generations of skilled employees, many of whom were Jewish.

Ernst Leitz GmbH, is now three companies: Leica Camera AG, Leica Geosystems AG, and Leica Microsystems GmbH. known for the Leica cameras.

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When Ernst Leitz sr. died in 1920, his son, Ernst Leitz II, took over, leading the company through the war years, as well as the introduction of the Leica 35mm camera in 1925. When Adolf Hitler became the German Chancellor in 1933, the younger Leitz almost immediately started receiving frantic calls and letters from Jewish associates, asking for the nearly impossible– help getting them and their families out of Germany. Since the Leitz family was not Jewish, they were not subject to Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg Laws, which– among other things– greatly restricted where Jews could and could not live, as well as limiting and scrutinizing their professional and civic activities.

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In order to help, Leitz quietly embarked on what history would later dub the Leica Freedom Train. The plan seemed simple enough, but could yield dire consequences for all concerned if ever discovered. The plan helped Jews leave the country covertly, under the pretense of Leitz employees being transferred to work overseas.

Employees, retailers, family members, and sometimes even friends of family members were “assigned” to Leitz sales offices, primarily in the United States, but also in France, England, and even Hong Kong. Efforts intensified after Kristallnacht— Crystal Night– in November of 1938, during which Jews were beaten and killed while their buildings, shops, and synagogues were vandalized and burned all across Germany.

Employees arriving in New York were met at the pier and taken to the Leitz Manhattan offices and showroom on 5th Avenue, where they received help finding jobs, homes, and anything else they needed to embark on their new lives.

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The refugees were given a living allowance if finding work proved to be difficult. Each was also given a Leica camera– not because they needed new cameras, but because they were easily exchangeable for cash if necessary. Many among this wave of employees became product designers, repair technicians, sales people, marketers, and even writers in the photography industry.

The Leica Freedom Train was operating at its height in 1938, and into early 1939, dropping off groups of refugees around the world every few weeks. It was not until the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 that the country’s borders were officially closed and Leitz’s rescue operation came to an unfortunate end.

Leitz’s daughter, Elsie Kuhn-Leitz, elsie-3_480was imprisoned by the Gestapo after she was caught at the border, helping Jewish women cross into Switzerland. She eventually was freed but endured rough treatment in the course of questioning. She also fell under suspicion when she attempted to improve the living conditions of 700 to 800 Ukrainian slave laborers, all of them women, who had been assigned to work in the plant during the 1940s

The company did produce rangefinders and other optics for the German military. Other Nazi officials especially propaganda experts believed strongly in the Leica cameras as a propaganda tool. That;s why it is believed that some local Nazi officials turned a blind eye to the exploits of the Leitz family.

This entire affair may have never come to light, had it not been for the dedicated research of a California-born rabbi living in England. Written by Frank Dabba Smith and published in 2002 by the American Photographic Historical Society, “The Greatest Invention of the Leitz Family: The Leica Freedom Train” details the family’s efforts to quietly intervene in one of history’s greatest injustices. When Ernst Leitz II was posthumously honored by the Anti-Defamation League with the Courage to Care Award in 2007.The rabbi of the Harrow and Wembley Progressive Synagogue in northwest London and a Leica enthusiast, has reconstructed their stories through photographs, documents and letters of thanks from survivors and their families

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“Under considerable risk and in defiance of Nazi policy, Ernst Leitz took valiant steps to transport his Jewish employees and others out of harm’s way,” said Abraham Foxman, director of ADL. “If only there had been more Oskar Schindlers, more Ernst Leitzs, then less Jews would have perished.”

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Many thanks to Norman Stone for drawing my attention to the Leica Freedom train story.

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Maurice Bavaud and the Swiss government’s lack of courage.

Létudiant-en-théologie-neuchâtelois-Maurice-Bavaud-Photo-wikipédia

There have been many attempts to assassinate Hitler, bizarrely enough they all failed.The attempt by Maurice Bavaud is one of the lesser known ones, Partially because it was overshadowed by the events unfolding due to the ‘Kristallnacht-Night of Broken glass’

Student Maurice Bavaud, 25, who was from the western Swiss town of Neuchatel, was executed in Berlin’s notorious Ploetzensee prison after failing in his attempt to shoot Hitler at a Nazi parade in Munich on Nov. 9, 1938.

Bavaud was a Catholic theology student, attending the Saint Ilan Seminary, Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, and a member of an anti-communist student group in France called Compagnie du Mystère. The group’s leader, Marcel Gerbohay, had a lot of influence over Bavaud. Gerbohay claimed that he was a member of the Romanov Dynasty, and convinced Bavaud that when communism was destroyed, the Romanovs would once again rule Russia, in the person of Gerbohay.

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Bavaud believed what Gerbohay had told him, became obsessed with the idea that killing Hitler would help the plans to materialise, and finally decided to carry out the assassination himself.

On October 9, 1938, Bavaud travelled from Brittany to Baden-Baden, then on to Basel, where he bought a Schmeisser 6.35 mm (.25 ACP) semi-automatic pistol.

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In Berlin, a policeman, Karl Deckert, overheard Bavaud saying that he would like to meet Hitler personally. Deckert advised Bavaud that a private audience could be arranged if Bavaud could obtain a letter of introduction from a suitable foreign VIP. Deckert advised him to travel to Munich for the anniversary of the 1923 “Beer Hall Putsch”, which Hitler attended every year. Bavaud followed those instructions by buying a ticket for a seat on the reviewing stand by posing as a Swiss reporter, intending to shoot Hitler as the latter passed during the parade. Bavaud abandoned this attempt when, on November 9th, Hitler turned out to be marching in the company of other Nazi leaders whom Bavaud did not want to injure.

Bavaud next purchased expensive stationery and forged a letter of introduction in the name of the French nationalist leader Pierre Taittinger, which claimed that Bavaud had a second letter for Hitler’s eyes only. He travelled to Berchtesgaden in the belief that Hitler had returned there, only to find that Hitler was still in Munich. When Bavaud returned to Munich, he discovered that Hitler was just leaving for Berchtesgaden.

Obersalzberg, Berghof von Adolf Hitler

Having exhausted his money, Bavaud stowed away on a train to Paris, where he was discovered by a conductor who turned him over to the police. He was interrogated by the Gestapo and admitted his plans to assassinate Hitler.

Bavaud was tried by the Volksgerichtshof on December 18, 1939, naming as his motives that he considered Hitler a danger to humanity in general, to Swiss independence, and to Catholicism in Germany. Swiss diplomacy made no effort to save Bavaud; Hans Fröhlicher, the Swiss ambassador to Germany even publicly condemned Bavaud’s assassination attempt. An offer from the Germans to exchange Bavaud for a German spy was turned down, and Bavaud was sentenced to death. He was executed by guillotine in the Berlin-Plötzensee prison on the morning of May 14, 1941.

On November 2 2007 the then Swiss President Pascal Couchepin admitted  that the Swiss government at the time could have done more to defend Maurice Bavaud.

“With hindsight, the then Swiss authorities did too little to intervene on behalf of the condemned person… he deserves our recognition,” Couchepin said.

“Bavaud anticipated the disaster Hitler would wreak upon the world. Switzerland failed him.”

The government announcement came in response to a motion by parliamentarian Paul Rechsteiner.800px-Paul_Rechsteiner_(2007)

“Even though it was only the end of 1938, he understood what Hitler would mean and took his statements seriously – even if politicians around the world didn’t,” Rechsteiner said.

As for the Swiss authorities’ reaction, Rechsteiner blames a “lack of courage”.

“The case resembles that of Paul Grüninger, who saved hundreds, maybe thousands, of lives but who wasn’t rehabilitated until 1995,” he said.

Grüninger was a police commander in St Gallen who was prosecuted for forging documents that allowed Jewish refugees into Switzerland.
https://dirkdeklein.net/2017/10/27/paul-gruningerpunished-for-being-a-decent-human-being/
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“Swiss history has to be looked at in a new way and we must pay tribute to those people who had the courage to do something.”

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How did they not see it?

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The one thing that still baffles me is how did the governments around the globe not see what Hitler’s plans were?

I know that Japan and Italy and to a lesser extend Finland,Romania and a few smaller countries were also axis nations but the fact is if Hitler’s Germany would not have become the power they were, neither of the other countries would have dared starting a global war, maybe a few local conflicts but not a full blown world war.

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Leaving aside the annexation of Austria, the Sudetenland and the Rhineland, or even the Kristall Nacht(night of the broken glass) because these were blatant acts of aggression. If any one just would have bothered reading “Mein Kampf” they would have known what Hitler’s plans were.

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Combine that with the clear military build up from the late 20’s and especially since 1933 the signs were there, but yet no action was taken. Was because of ignorance,naivety or just jeer stupidity, I don’t know.Of course the media wasn’t as advanced then as it is now but nevertheless there was coverage. It is not like Hitler was doing this secretly, he did it in plain sight and in fact boasted about it.

Würzburg on “Boycott Day”, 1 April 1933. A parade of SS men.

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The Nazi booth at a radio exhibition which started in Berlin on August 19, 1932. The booth was designed as propaganda of the Nazi gramophone plate industry which produced only records of the national socialist movement.

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Annual midnight swearing-in of SS troops at Feldherrnhalle, Munich, 1938.

Annual midnight swearing-in of SS troops at Feldherrnhalle, Munich, 1938.

Reichserntedankfest, 1934.Thanks Giving

 

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Men of Leibstandarte ‘Adolf Hitler’ at the Lichterfelde barracks in Berlin, Germany, November 22, 1938.

Hitler's personal bodyguard undergo a drill inspection in Berlin, November 1938

Hitler’s Autobahn

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Inspecting the troops

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Heinkel He 100 was a German pre-World War II fighter aircraft design from Heinkel. Although it proved to be one of the fastest fighter aircraft in the world at the time of its development, it was not ordered into production.

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Approximately 19 prototypes examples were built. None are known to have survived the war. The Luftwaffe rejected the He 100 to concentrate single-seat fighter development on the Messerschmitt Bf 109.

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Reflection of an American Student who studied in Berlin in 1938.

“So, here I am on the outskirts of Frankfurt, sitting on a train and bound for Würzburg, where I know not what awaits me.”

Robert Harlan, studying a semester abroad at the University of Marburg, witnessed Kristallnacht. Traveling by train to help the parents of a Jewish friend whose house had been ransacked, Harlan reflects that “America, the land of freedom, still has much meaning I’m thinking.”

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They saw what was happening and did nothing.

21edmund-burke

As Edmund Burke once said”The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”, I would like to add “for good women to do nothing”

This is is how the Nazi regime and all its evil could flourish. People saw what was happening, it was often blatantly obvious but yet they did nothing,or very little.

This is not meant as an accusation to the German (and Austrian)people, because they were intoxicated by the power displayed by Hitler, additionally they were going through economic hardships and Hitler kept his ‘promises’of prosperity and employment and they didn’t realize or didn’t want to see the price to paid for it.

Below are just some examples that really should have opened the eyes of some people.

This photograph was taken in Austria days after the Nazi annexation, March 1938. A lady sitting on a bench, marked “Jews only”

A Jewish woman who is concealing her face sits on a park bench marked Only for Jews, Austria, 1938 (1)

A boy sits on a bench in a public park. The words painted on the bench say, “For Aryans only.

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It wasn’t only the Germans and Austrians who knew what was happening the whole world saw what was going on and did nothing.

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Jewish prisoners paraded by the SS and local police through the streets of Baden-Baden,November 10 1938.

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SS guards at the Dachau concentration camp, 1933.

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Nazi SA paramilitaries outside Israel’s Department Store in Berlin. The signs read: “Germans defend yourselves! Don’t buy from Jews.

Berlin, Boykott-Posten vor jüdischem Warenhaus

Four Nazi troops sing in front of the Berlin branch of the Woolworth Co. store during the movement to boycott Jewish presence in Germany, March 1, 1933.

Nazis singing to encourage a boycott of the allegedly Jewish-founded Woolworths, 1933

This is the Reichserntedankfest(Thanksgiving for the Harvest) of 1934 in Buckeberg. That year, 700,000 people participated. Even those who did not support Nazis were totally blown away and emotionally shaken. They had never experienced anything even remotely like this, there was no rock concerts back then. It created spiritual feeling of sublime and unity among people who were participating. When they were marching back to their tents in the night, they could still see the huge spotlights piercing the sky in the Buckeberg. They were totally pumped up and fell that things are really going to change better.

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The synagogue of Baden-Baden in flames, November 10, 1938

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Two Germans accused of having violated the law against sexual relations between Jews and Gentiles.

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A Jewish youth is forced under Nazi supervision to write “Jew” on the wall of a house, following the annexation of Austria, Vienna, 1938.

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In Austria Jews are made to scrub pro-Austrian slogans from streets – March 1938

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A woman’s hair is shaved in public as she is accused of having violated the Nuremberg Laws

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I know people will say that there are similarities in apartheid and the segregation of African Americans, but the Nazi’s final solution’s aim was to annihilate and not to segregate.

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Herman van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer- The other 2 fathers in Anne Frank’s annex

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We all know the story of Anne Frank but we don’t really know that much of the others who hid in the secret annex.

On Father’s day lets have a look at the other 2 Fathers who stayed with Anne Frank and her family.

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Hermann van Pels, (31 March 1898 – October 1944), known as Hermann (Hans in the first manuscript) van Daan in Anne’s diary, died in Auschwitz, being the first of the eight to die. He was the only member of the group to be gassed. However, according to eyewitness testimony, this did not happen on the day he arrived there. Sal de Liema, an inmate at Auschwitz who knew both Otto Frank and Hermann van Pels, said that after two or three days in the camp, van Pels mentally “gave up”, which was generally the beginning of the end for any concentration camp inmate. He later injured his thumb on a work detail and requested to be sent to the sick barracks. Soon after that, during a sweep of the sick barracks for selection, he was sent to the gas chambers. This occurred about three weeks after his arrival at Auschwitz, most likely in very early October of 1944, and his selection was witnessed by both his son Peter and by Otto Frank.

Hermann van Pels begins working with Otto Frank in 1938. Miep Gies remembers him as “tall, large man” and “quite an agreeable sort, [who] had no trouble fitting into the routine” in the company.

Hermann van Pels

Hermann acquired his knowledge of the butcher’s trade by working in the business of his father, Aron van Pels (who was originally Dutch). After his marriage to Lina Vorsänger, Aron settled down in Gehrde, Germany. He worked there for his German father-in-law, a wholesaler in butchers’ equipment. Aron and Lina had six children: Max, Henny, Ida, Hermann, Klara and Meta. Hermann was born on March 31, 1898. He became the representative of his father’s business in Osnabrück, Germany.

On December 5, 1925 he married the German Auguste (Gusti) Röttgen. She then became Dutch, since according to German law women automatically assumed the nationality of their husbands.

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Gusti was born on September 29, 1900 in Buer, near Osnabrück, and her father was a merchant. Hermann and Gusti lived in Osnabrück, near the Dutch border, where Peter was born on November 8, 1926.

Peter van Pels

Fritz Pfeffer (30 April 1889 – 20 December 1944) was a German dentist and Jewish refugee who hid with Anne Frank during the Nazi Occupation of the Netherlands, and who perished in the Neuengamme concentration camp in Northern Germany.

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Pfeffer was given the pseudonym Albert Dussel in Anne’s diary, and remains known as such in many editions and adaptations of the publication.

His cause of death was listed in the camp records as “enterocolitis”, a catch-all term that covered, among other things, dysentery and cholera.

Fritz Pfeffer was born in Gießen, Germany, one of the five children of Ignatz Pfeffer and Jeannette Hirsch-Pfeffer, who lived above their clothing and textiles shop at 6 Marktplatz in Giessen. After completing his education, Fritz trained as a dentist and jaw surgeon, obtained a license to practice in 1911 and opened a surgery the following year in Berlin.

He served in the German Army during the First World War.

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In 1926 married Vera Bythiner (31 March 1904 – 30 September 1942), who was born in Posen in Imperial Germany (now Poznań, Poland). The marriage produced a son, Werner Peter Pfeffer (3 April 1927 – 14 February 1995), then the couple divorced in 1932. Fritz was granted custody of the boy and raised him alone until November 1938,

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when the rising tide of Nazi activity in Germany persuaded him to send him into the care of his brother Ernst in England. Werner emigrated to California in 1945 after his uncle’s death and changed his name to Peter Pepper, later establishing a successful office supplies company under that name.

The tide of antisemitism in Germany, which increased from the election of Adolf Hitler in 1933, forced most of Fritz’s relatives to flee the country. His mother had died in 1925; his father remarried and remained in Germany, only to be arrested; he died in Theresienstadt in October 1942. His elder brother Julius Pfeffer had died in 1928, Emil Pfeffer emigrated to South Africa in 1937, Ernst Pfeffer moved to England and died in 1944, and Hans left for New Jersey. Their sister Minna remained with their father in Germany and died in Nazi custody. Vera escaped to the Netherlands but was arrested in 1942 and died in Auschwitz.

In 1936 Fritz met a young woman, Charlotte Kaletta (1910–1985), born in Ilmenau, Thuringia in central Germany, who shared his history of a broken marriage. She was estranged from her first husband, Ludwig Lowenstein, and their son Gustaf. The couple moved in together but were prohibited from marrying under the 1935 Nazi Nuremberg Laws which forbade marriages between Jews and non-Jews.

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Kristallnacht cemented their decision to leave Berlin and they fled to Amsterdam in December 1938.

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They were there for two years before the German invasion, and subsequent anti-Jewish laws which did not permit the co-habitation of Jews and non-Jews forced them to officially separate and register under different addresses. After establishing a dental practice in Amsterdam’s Rivierenbuurt he became acquainted with the Van Pels and Frank families. Miep Gies met Pfeffer at one of the Franks’ house parties and became a patient in his dental practice.

n the autumn of 1942, he decided to go into hiding and asked Miep Gies about some suitable addresses. She consulted Otto Frank, who, with his and the van Pels family, was being hidden by her in secret rooms in the Franks’ office building. Frank agreed to accommodate Pfeffer, and he was taken into their hiding place on 16 November, where his medical degree came in handy as they could not contact a doctor while in hiding.

Margot Frank moved into a room with her parents, to allow Pfeffer to share a small room with Anne, beginning what would become a torturous relationship for both.

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It has been suggested by at least one biographer that Anne’s extreme discomfort at sharing her room with a middle-aged man while she was going through puberty may have been at the root of her problems with Pfeffer, but the pressures of being in hiding and the generational differences of their forty-year age gap undoubtedly exacerbated the differences in their natures. Pfeffer felt his age gave him seniority over Anne and wrote off her writing activities as unimportant compared to his own studies. His observance of orthodox Judaism clashed with her liberal views. Her energy and capriciousness grated on his nerves, while his pedantry and rigidity frustrated her. Anne’s irritations and growing dislike of Pfeffer led to complaints and derisory descriptions of him in her diary, against which his son Werner and wife Charlotte defended him once the book was published.The relationship of Anne and Fritz was the toughest of all.

Fritz Pfeffer met zoon Werner, Berlijn, 1937/1938.

Pfeffer left a farewell note to Charlotte and they stayed in touch through Miep, who met her on a weekly basis to exchange their letters and take provisions from her.

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His letters never disclosed the location of his hiding place and Miep never revealed it, but on 4 August 1944 Pfeffer and the seven other occupants of the hiding place were arrested for deportation to Nazi concentration camps.

With the rest of the group and two of their protectors, Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler, Pfeffer was taken to the Nazi headquarters in Amsterdam-South, then to a prison for three days before being transported to Westerbork on 8 August. Pfeffer was taken to the Punishment Barracks with the others, where he undertook hard labour, until he was selected for deportation to Auschwitz on 3 September. He was separated from the others on arrival on 6 September and sent to the men’s barracks, where he was reunited with Otto Frank. On 29 October he was transferred with 59 other medics to Sachsenhausen and from there to Neuengamme on an unknown date. There, he died at age 55 in the sick barracks, of enterocolitis on 20 December 1944, according to the camp’s records.800px-Neuengamme_(Dove_Elv_Schild)

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Kristallnacht-The Night of Broken Glass

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On November 9 to November 10, 1938, in an incident known as “Kristallnacht”, Nazis in Germany torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses and killed close to 100 Jews. In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, also called the “Night of Broken Glass,” some 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps.

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On the night of November 9, 1938, violence against Jews broke out across the Reich. It appeared to be unplanned, set off by Germans’ anger over the assassination of a German official in Paris at the hands of a Jewish teenager. In fact, German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and other Nazis carefully organized the pogroms. In two days, over 250 synagogues were burned, over 7,000 Jewish businesses were trashed and looted, dozens of Jewish people were killed, and Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes were looted while police and fire brigades stood by. The pogroms became known as Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” for the shattered glass from the store windows that littered the streets.

The morning after the pogroms 30,000 German Jewish men were arrested for the “crime” of being Jewish and sent to concentration camps, where hundreds of them perished.

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Some Jewish women were also arrested and sent to local jails. Businesses owned by Jews were not allowed to reopen unless they were managed by non-Jews. Curfews were placed on Jews, limiting the hours of the day they could leave their homes.

The violence was instigated primarily by Nazi Party officials and members of the SA (Sturmabteilungen: literally Assault Detachments, but commonly known as Storm Troopers) and Hitler Youth.

In its aftermath, German officials announced that Kristallnacht had erupted as a spontaneous outburst of public sentiment in response to the assassination of Ernst vom Rath.

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Vom Rath was a German embassy official stationed in Paris. Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew, had shot the diplomat on November 7, 1938. A few days earlier, German authorities had expelled thousands of Jews of Polish citizenship living in Germany from the Reich; Grynszpan had received news that his parents, residents in Germany since 1911, were among them.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/11/07/herschel-grynszpan-assassination-of-ernst-vom-rath/

Vom Rath died on November 9, 1938, two days after the shooting. The day happened to coincide with the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, an important date in the National Socialist calendar. The Nazi Party leadership, assembled in Munich for the commemoration, chose to use the occasion as a pretext to launch a night of antisemitic excesses. Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, a chief instigator of the Kristallnacht pogroms, suggested to the convened Nazi ‘Old Guard’ that ‘World Jewry’ had conspired to commit the assassination. He announced that “the Führer has decided that … demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the Party, but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered.”

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Goebbels’ words appear to have been taken as a command for unleashing the violence. After his speech, the assembled regional Party leaders issued instructions to their local offices. Violence began to erupt in various parts of the Reich throughout the late evening and early morning hours of November 9–10. At 1:20 a.m. on November 10, Reinhard Heydrich, in his capacity as head of the Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei) sent an urgent telegram to headquarters and stations of the State Police and to SA leaders in their various districts, which contained directives regarding the riots. SA and Hitler Youth units throughout Germany and its annexed territories engaged in the destruction of Jewish-owned homes and businesses. Members of many units wore civilian clothes to support the fiction that the disturbances were expressions of ‘outraged public reaction.’

Despite the outward appearance of spontaneous violence, and the local cast which the pogrom took on in various regions throughout the Reich, the central orders Heydrich relayed gave specific instructions: the “spontaneous” rioters were to take no measures endangering non-Jewish German life or property; they were not to subject foreigners (even Jewish foreigners) to violence; and they were to remove all synagogue archives prior to vandalizing synagogues and other properties of the Jewish communities, and to transfer that archival material to the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst, or SD). The orders also indicated that police officials should arrest as many Jews as local jails could hold, preferably young, healthy men.

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On the 12th of November 1938 The Nazi state imposes a fine of one billion Reichsmarks($400,000,000) on the Jewish community in Germany. Jews are ordered to clean up and make repairs after the pogrom. They are barred from collecting insurance for the damages. Instead, the state confiscates payments owed by insurers to Jewish property holders. In the aftermath of the pogrom, Jews are systematically excluded from all areas of public life in Germany.

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Kristallnacht changed the nature of persecution from economic, political, and social to physical with beatings, incarceration, and murder; the event is often referred to as the beginning of the Holocaust. In the words of historian Max Rein in 1988, “Kristallnacht came…and everything was changed.”

While November 1938 predated overt articulation of “the Final Solution”, it foreshadowed the genocide to come. Around the time of Kristallnacht, the SS newspaper Das Schwarze Korps called for a “destruction by swords and flames.”

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At a conference on the day after the pogrom, Hermann Göring said: “The Jewish problem will reach its solution if, in any time soon, we will be drawn into war beyond our border—then it is obvious that we will have to manage a final account with the Jews.”

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