Helene Mayer-Caught between a Rock and a hard place.

Helen Mayer

The Olympic Games are the biggest sporting events in the world. But more then a sporting event is is also a political event filled with propaganda. This was never more clear then in 1936 during the Berlin Olympic Games.

1936

On July 26,1935,German sports commissioner Hans von Tschammer und Osten advised that no Jews would represent Germany at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He claimed that Jews had competed in the qualifying events but none made the grade. In November 1935 Germany would make a bit of a u-turn after  mounting international pressure and allow the half-Jewish fencer Helene Mayer onto the team.

In 1936 the Nazi politics which enabled the Holocaust were already in full swing, three years prior the first concentration camp, Dachau, had already gone in operation.

The first Jewish person to die in Dachau was Arthur Kahn, a 21-year-old Jewish German medical student had enrolled in Edinburgh University in Scotland, he had returned to , Germany to pick up his student records at the University of Wurzburg.He was killed on April 12 1933.

In the U.S, there were those who believed that the country should boycott the 1936 Olympics due to Hitler’s stand towards Jewish athletes and his obvious discrimination towards athletes of African-American descent.

Helen Mayer had already  won a gold medal in fencing at the age of 17 at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, representing Germany, winning 18 bouts and losing only 2. She became a national hero in Germany and was celebrated, with her photo plastered everyone. According to a profile in The Guardian, “She was tall, blonde, elegant and vivacious. The fact that she was tall,blonde and blue eyed were taken in consideration to include her in the Olympic squad.

In 1931, her father died of a heart attack. She finished fifth at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, having learned, two hours prior to the match, that her boyfriend had died in a military training exercise in Germany.Two years later Helene Mayer lost her German citizenship. Luckily for her, she managed to enroll into Berkley and to compete for the USC Fencing Club.

In 1936, however, it appeared that the same people who stripped her of citizenship and humiliated her to the point of complete ostracization, wanted her to perform once again for Germany.

Reluctantly she decided to accept the invitation although she was caught between a rock and a hard place between her professional career and her dignity and pride.

Goebbels requested of the press that no comments were to  be made regarding Helene Mayer’s non-Aryan ancestry She won a silver medal in individual women’s foil. She gave a Nazi salute on the podium, and later said it might have protected her family that was still in Germany, in labor camps.

Helen

There are some who have called her a traitor. I don’t describe to that point of view, in fact I think what she did was heroic. She was safe in the USA but yet she decided to represent her country at the major sporting tournament, risking being imprisoned after the tournament and especially if she hadn’t won a medal. Although the politics of her country failed her she still felt German, she had no political agenda. And I believe she competed for Germany in the hope of securing better treatment for her family, who were still living in Germany. It is easy to judge when you are not put in that position.

At the end of the day she was used as a pawn of the Nazi regime and the International Olympic Committee.

After the Olympics, she returned to the United States and became a nine-time U.S. champion. She received citizenship in 1941 but returned to Germany in 1952.Where she married an old friend, Erwin Falkner von Sonnenburg, in a quiet May ceremony in Munich. The couple moved to the hills above Stuttgart before setting in Heidelberg where she died of breast cancer in October 1953, two months before her 43rd birthday.

fENCING

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Sources

The Guardian

Irish Times

Vintage News

Mashable

 

 

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Reichsbahn-‘Weapon’ of mass destruction.

Reichsbahn

If it hadn’t been for the Reichsbahn-the Nazi contolled railways ,the Holocaust would not have been possible to the extend it was.The irony, for lack of a better word, the hate for the Jews by  Hitler ,Himmler and the other Nazi leaders quite possibly caused them to lose the war. So many trains had been allocated to transport Jews and others to the death camps and concentration camps, that there was a lack of trains for transport of troops,supplies and equipment especially to the Eastern front.

Julius Heinrichtrein Dorpmueller was  general manager of Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft and the Reich Minister for Transport from 1937 to 1945.After the Nazi seizure of power Dorpmüller replaced nearly all “non-Aryan” workers with National Socialists. Dorpmüller became Reich Transport Minister on 2 February 1937

Dorpmüller had doubts about the capacity of the Reichsbahn and had confessed to Albert Speer  at one stage that the  Reichsbahn had not enough  cars and locomotives available for the German area that it was no longer possible  to meet the most urgent transportation needs.

Speer then convinced Hitler to appoint Albert Ganzenmüller state secretary under Dorpmüller. Ganzenmüller immediately goy  involved in the organisation of trains for deportation.Albert He collaborated in the transportation scheme for elderly German Jews to Theresienstadt and made sure  the  transport to the extermination camps as set up under Operation Reinhardt  ran as smoothly as possible. However there were some complaints about the management of the transports by Ganzemüller. On July 16 Himmler’s personal adjutant Karl Wolff, , complained to the newly appointed under-secretary about irregularities on  transport and track repairs on the line to the extermination camp at Sobibor. Ganzenmüller replied in writing on 28 July 1942 as follows:

“A train carrying 5,000 Jews has run daily since 22 July from Warsaw to Treblinka via Malkinia; furthermore, another train has run twice a week with 5,000 Jews from Przemysl to Belzec. The senior management of the eastern division of the railways, ‘Gedob’ (Generaldirektion der Ostbahnen), is in constant touch with the security service  in Krakau. The latter is in agreement that transport from Warsaw to Sobibor via Lublin should continue while the reconstruction work on this stretch renders such movements impossible ([until] approximately October 1942).”

Karl Wolff thanked him on 13 August 1942 in a personal letter:

“I note with particular pleasure from your communication that a train with 5,000 members of the chosen race has been running daily for 14 days and that we are accordingly in a position to continue with this population movement at an accelerated pace.”

Not only was the Reichsbahn used as a sort of weapon of mass destruction , it was also used as a money making tool.Most of the Jews were forced to pay for their own deportations, particularly wherever passenger carriages were used.According to an expert report established on behalf of the German “Train of Commemoration” project, the receipts taken in by the state-owned Deutsche Reichsbahn for mass deportations in the period between 1938 and 1945 reached a sum of  an equivalent of close to 450 Million Euro or 505 Million USD.

It must be said that it wasn’t only the German railways who were involved, most of the other European railways also transported Jews and other so called’undesirables’ to the camps. Although they were controlled by the Reichsbahn, they still had some level of autonomy.

slovak train

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Archive.org

Bundesarchiv

 

First man-made object in space.

V2

One could be forgiven for thinking that the space race was between the USSR and the USA, and that the USSR were the first to initiate the race.

But it was in fact the Germans who on this day 75 years ago ,sent  the first man-made object to reach outer space.

The test launch of the MW 18014 ,a German  A-4/V-2 rocket  took place on 20 June 1944. It attained an apoapsis(The point of a body’s elliptical orbit about the system’s center of mass where the distance between the body and the center of mass is at its maximum) of 176 kilometers

MW 18014 was part of a series of vertical test launches conducted in June 1944, in Peenemunde, designed to gauge the rocket’s behavior in vacuum. MW 18014 broke the altitude record set by one of its predecessors to attain an apoapsis of 176 km.

It was the first man-made object to cross  the 100 km Kármán Line, which is the currently accepted boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. About 20 months later on October 24,1946 the US Air force took the first photo taken of Earth from outer space. with a camera mounted on an adapted V2 rocket.

earth

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Getting married in Nazi Germany

The Nazi regime controlled every aspects of life in Germany, even who you married. In 1935 the Reich Committee for Public Health Service issued the guidelines for getting married.

It was published as ‘die zehn Gebote für die Gattenwahl’ the 10 commandments for choosing a spouse.

  1. Always remember that you are a German.

2. Be sure to marry if you are genetically healthy.

3. Ensure that you keep your body clean.

4. Keep your soul and spirit clean.

5. As a German, you should only take a spouse of German or Nordic blood.

6. When deciding on a spouse, investigate his or her ancestry.

7. Physical health is the prerequisite for outward beauty.

8. Marry only for love.

9. In relationships, do not seek a temporary plaything, look for a partner for marriage.

10. You should want as many children as possible.

These 10 commandments were published in women’s magazines like “NS-Frauen-Warte” but also in pamphlets distributed to all students graduating from a trade school under the Nazi regime.

So many got married because their “Führer” wished so, yet he only got married a few hours before he killed himself.

10

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Sources

Süddeutscher Zeitung

Bundesarciv

 

Werner Catel- deciding who lives.

Werner Catel

One of the most disturbing aspects  of the Holocaust I find is the fact that so many who were instrumental in so many evil deeds, were allowed to continue after the war.

In February or March 1939 a farmer called Richard Kretschmar requested Catel’s permission to euthanize one of his children, the child we now know to have been  Gerhard Kretschmar, often referred to as Child K, who had been born blind and deformed.

Werner Catel deferred the matter and advised the father to write directly to Hitler for permission. Hitler subsequently sent Dr. Karl Brandt to confer with Catel and decide on a course of action. On July 25, 1939 the child was killed. It would be the first child to be killed under Aktion T4 or the T-4 program, technically the poor boy would become the pilot case.

T-4

A year later, Werner Catel set up »children’s wards in Leipzig-Dösen and in the University Children’s Hospital in Leipzig. He was an expert on the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses, even killing children with mental or physical disabilities himself.

The T4 program was influenced by a popular book, ” die freigabe der vernichtung lebensunwerten lebens(Allowing the destruction of life unworthy of living)”, written in 1922 by Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding.

Book

Catel argued for the reintroduction of euthanasia. As had Binding and Hoche, Catel identified three possible types of euthanasia.

Reine Euthanasie:
“Real” euthanasia was seen as the killing of a person who was suffering from so much pain, that an ever-increasing amount of pain reducing drugs had to be administered. This consequently lead to the person’s death.

Euthanasie im engeren Sinne:
The killing of a patient whose illness “according to medical experience” is so bad “that there is no hope of recovery”, but whose death is also not to be expected in the near future. (See terminal sedation)

Euthanasie im weiteren Sinne:
The “extermination of the life of an “idiot child” or an adult in a similar condition. Catel defined “idiot children” as being “such monsters … which are nothing but a massa carnis”.

Basically Werner Catel was one of the people who felt they had the right to decided who would live or die.

After the war Catel fled from Soviet controlled Leipzig in 1946. To West Germany.The West German authorities ‘de-Nazified’ him in 1949 and classed him as »Persons Exonerated. Afterwards, he was shortlisted for several professorships. In 1954, he was appointed Professor of Paediatrics in Kiel, despite the facts his function on the Reich Committee was known. Due to public pressure and the debate about his role in National Socialism, Catel took early retirement in 1960. Catel continued to propagate in public the idea of the euthanasia of children with mental and physical disabilities.

He died April 30, 1981, aged 88. Where many of his victims did even reach the age  88 months.

 

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Sources

T4-Denkmal

Der Spiegel

 

Heinz Sommerfeld-Transport Ek no. 1458 (28. 09. 1944, Terezín -> Auschwitz)

Heinz

Around this time of year many 17 year old kids are getting ready for school exams. And although they may think it is unfair that they have to sit for hours and hours, to do their exams(I know I thought it was unfair). They don’t actually realize how lucky they are.

Education, even though it is a basic human right.it is not a certainty and it should be seen as a privilege when it is given to you.

I am sure Heinz Sommerfeld would have loved to have done his exams when he was 17, but he never got the chance. His biggest worry was staying alive, and because of an evil regime he did not succeed in that either.

He was born in Berlin on March 26th, 1927. On January 5th, 1939, aged 11, he  came to the Netherlands as a refugee without his parents on a  Kindertransport. (children’s transport)

Kinder

When he arrived in the Netherlands he was first in an orphanage in Amsterdam, but in November 1939 he was put in foster care with the Lipschits family in Maastricht . However a few months after the Nazis invaded the Netherlands he was moved again to an orphanage, this time in Utrecht.

In February 1942 he was deported to Westerbork. On January 20th, 1944 he was put on the train to Theresienstadt, from where he was deported to Auschwitz on September 28th, 1944 on transport 1458. A total of 2499 persons were registered on that transport. Heinz was one of them.

The train arrived in Auschwitz on September 29th,1944. What happened to the other 2498 I don’t know, but Heinz was murdered in the gas chambers upon arrival.

He was murdered not because he was bad but because he was perceived to be different, He was Jewish that was enough for the Nazis to kill him.

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915 Euthanasias a month.

Sonnenstein

I do mention  Euthanasias in the title but in reality they were murders. Euthanasia. Sonnenstein Euthanasia Clinic was in of the euthanasia centres of the T4 program.

It operated between June 1940 and September 1941. Most of the victims  were suffering from psychological disorders and intellectual disability, but their number also included inmates from the concentration camps.

It didn’t take much to be branded as somebody with a psychological disorder, even political delinquents were seem as people with mental disabilities.

Between June 1940 and September the centre euthanized on average 915 victims a month, or about 30 victims a day.

One of the victims was Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler.

elfriede

She was was a German painter of the avant-garde movement  whose works were considered “degenerate art” and therefor banned and sometimes destroyed.

In 1929, she suffered a nervous breakdown due to financial  problems and relationship issues ,she was committed to a psychiatric institution in Hamburg-Friedrichsberg. During the two months she stayed there  stay, she painted the Friedrichsberg heads. A portfolio  of work consisting of about 60 drawings and pastels of mainly portraits of fellow patients. After her recovery  she had a very creative phase. She painted numerous paintings of Hamburg’s harbor, scenes from the life of workers and prostitutes, and pitiless self-portraits. But despite some exhibitions, sales, and smaller grants, she lived in  poverty.

Due to  these financial problems and increasing social isolation, she returned to her parents’ home in Dresden in 1931. When her mental state worsened her father admitted her to the state mental home at Arnsdorf in 1932. Where  she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. From 1932 to 1935 she was still creatively active, drawing portraits and creating arts and crafts. After her husband  divorced her in May 1935 she was incapacitated due to “incurable insanity”.

After refusing to consent to a sterilisation, she was no longer allowed  to leave the hospital . In late 1935, she was subjected to a surgical sterilisation in the Dresden-Friedrichstadt women’s hospital as per the Nazi eugenicist policies. After this trauma  she never painted again. In 1940 she was deported to Sonnenstein where she was killed on July 31,1940.

Centre Sonnenstein

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This building had once stabled 80 horses. There were 1,200 men in it, five to a bunk.

Buchenwaldf

The title is a line from a report by Edward R. Murrow, a CBS radio news reporter.He  reported largely from Europe during World War II, and was the first reporter on scene following the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp The report was broadcast on  Sunday, April 15, 1945, in Studio B-4 of the BBC, only a few days after the liberation.

I could include pictures of what the allied troops encountered in April 1945. Pictures of piles of corpses or emaciated inmates, and there are plenty. But I won’t do that. I have decided to tell the story with some of the excerpts from the report. When you initially read it then probably just like me, you won’t be that shocked,maybe a bit disturbed but not shocked.

This is probably because the horrors written down, don’t trigger a response. However when you read it again and leave the words sink in, the horrors become so clear and they will stick with you more so then any picture could do.

Edward

Report from Edward R. Murrow

“There surged around me an evil-smelling stink, men and boys reached out to touch me. They were in rags and the remnants of uniforms. Death already had marked many of them, but they were smiling with their eyes. I looked out over the mass of men to the green fields beyond, where well-fed Germans were ploughing.

I asked to see one of the barracks. It happened to be occupied by Czechoslovaks. When I entered, men crowded around, tried to lift me to their shoulders. They were too weak. Many of them could not get out of bed. I was told that this building had once stabled 80 horses. There were 1,200 men in it, five to a bunk. The stink was beyond all description.

barn

We went to the hospital. It was full. The doctor told me that 200 had died the day before. I asked the cause of death. He shrugged and said: ‘tuberculosis, starvation, fatigue and there are many who have no desire to live. It is very difficult’ He pulled back the blanket from a man’s feet to show me how swollen they were. The man was dead. Most of the patients could not move.

In another part of the camp they showed me the children, hundreds of them. Some were only 6 years old. One rolled up his sleeves, showed me his number. It was tattooed on his arm. B-6030, it was. The others showed me their numbers. They will carry them till they die. An elderly man standing beside me said: “The children- enemies of the state!” I could see their ribs through their thin shirts.

Children

They called the doctor. We inspected his records. There were only names in the little black book, nothing more. Nothing about who these men were, what they had done, or hoped. Behind the names of those who had died, there was a cross. I counted them. They totaled 242. 242 out of 1,200, in one month.

As we walked out into the courtyard, a man fell dead. Two others, they must have been over 60, were crawling toward the latrine. I saw it, but will not describe it.”

Jedem

Unlike Auschwitz or other camps Buchenwald’s gate did not say “Arbeit macht Frei” but ” Jedem das Seine” which translates to “to each his own” or “to each what he deserves”. No one in Buchenwald got what they deserved. No one deserves to be treated as a subhuman. Nor did they deserve to be murdered for being Jewish,Communist or just critical of the Nazi regime.

 

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Sources

Scrapbook pages

Jewish Virtual Library

Berkley Library

 

 

NS-Frauen-Warte- Nazi propaganda in a glossy women’s magazine.

magazine

The NS-Frauen-Warte was a fortnightly  Nazi magazine for women. At a first glance the magazine looked harmless. It would often have recipes or sewing patterns etc. But most of the articles in the magazine were pure propaganda, aimed to brainwash women and especially young mothers.

Below is an article from the January 1940 edition. The cover of the magazine shows a child making a snowball, the main article is called “Life must win”

“What the man sacrifices in fighting for his people, the woman sacrifices in fighting to maintain this people. The man shows heroism on the battlefield, the woman shows it in eternal patient devotion, in ever patient sorrow and endurance.

Each child that she brings into the world is a battle that she fights for the existence or nonexistence of her people

— Der Führer

In happy times, holidays like Christmas Eve with the family or New Year’s Eve are high lights. In graver times when the fate of an entire people hangs in the balance, they are an occasion contemplating of times past and times to come . Only weak people will fall into lame sentimentality or be tempted by hopeless self-pity. Others find occasion to catch their breath, to find clear, solid knowledge that they can use to give them new courage to go on with their labours. But we should not forget that these holidays even during war bring joy and strength. A war Christmas is not a new thing to the older ones among us . We have experienced it before, those grave but unforgettable Christmases that united the homeland and the front together in unbreakable community. Christmas, that is the feast of family community. During war, it is the festival of community for all who are of the same nature, the same blood. It is the community of Germans; particularly now as we all stand before unprecedented change, a time of renewal, of youth, of the eternity of our people.

A correct comprehension of our time must make us proud and strong, and from such knowledge we may turn our view from outside to the lives of German women. Their high mission as guardians of life is very different from that of the man, and one cannot do enough to emphasize that again and again. The man’s life is filled with struggles and battles, with tools or working the soil. But today more than ever, the outcome depends on the quiet heroism of women. The willingness of the man to die stands against the will of the woman for life. The more we learn about the world and our people, the higher is the role of the woman, and the more we must see the question of life as the most significant. War and victory stand in the service of life, in the service of maintaining and extending the life of our people. That is their meaning.

Our enemies have often stated  openly that they look for victory not in fair fighting on the battlefield, but rather in a war of annihilation against the core of our national being, against our women and children. They may have hunger written on their battle flags, but these methods they used against us before hold no terror for us, for we are ready. What is behind those threats is more serious. The implacability of our enemies in England and above all in France is best understood when one realizes that their populations are declining. They face a Germany whose population is so strong they dare not attack it with arms. They hope that by prolonging the war, by blockades and starvation, they can exert pressure on the German life will. These shrinking peoples use poisoned weapons to fight the new, healthy German growth, a Germany they believed they had dealt with in the Treaty of Versailles by senselessly taking its territory in the hopes of cutting off Germany’s life.

The success or failure of the enemy’s devilish plans depends on German women and mothers, on their will to sacrifice and on their love for their children. It may often be difficult  to be a mother, to continue  the eternal struggle for the life of the German people. That is especially the truth  for women whose husbands are in the military, but each brave deed is its own reward. And let us not forget that life keeps going, and breaks through the barriers that stand in its way. Is not the continuing expansion of German territory new proof for the eternal law that life finds its way?

No one may remove the desire of German women to bear children. Some may try to spread the idea that children born during the war will face hunger and a future wounded in body and soul, as happened during the World War. But today’s government sees in children its greatest wealth, and its highest responsibility  in caring for them. It will ensure that children born during the war will be protected, and can look forward to a happy Germany. They will harvest what today is being sown in these great days. And we may not forget that today the whole people stand behind our children; once again it takes pleasure in children and loves them, seeing its future in its children.

Life is the world of the woman. The fate of her people is determined by her attitude toward life, in her will to happiness and her desire for children. Our soldiers protect Germany and all that we have achieved. But it is our women who are the foundation of the future of  Germany, who build it stone by stone through fine German children. Here are the values , here the right to life of our people. Our children are the river that carries German feeling, German thinking, German accomplishments, and the German will throughout the centuries.

Will the courage of German women to carry on life be less than the willingness of our soldiers to die? That is the question that faces us. The only answer is this:

A military or political victory over our enemies would be only half the battle, and could not guarantee Germany’s future or the Führer’s work. The decisive factor is the victory of life. And that is in the hands of our women and mothers.”

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Source

Heidelberg University

German Wikipedia

German History Docs

 

 

Twelve Theses-When students encouraged the destruction of History.

twelve

One of the most effective weapons to fight antisemitism and racism is critical thinking. What scares me though, is that there seems to be less and less people who have this ability. Or maybe it is just a case that those who think critically are silenced.

This blog will be about a historical event , but I can’t ignore the fact that it has similarities to what is slowly creeping in today’s society. Often critical thinking gets confused with criticizing news reports or studies etc., but that is an incorrect assessment. Critical thinking is merely not accepting everything you hear automatically, but rather analyse the data and ask questions where needed.

One of the key ingredients for critical thinking is knowing history. There is currently a trend in  several countries, to take  history out of the school curriculum. However if you forget your history, you forfeit your future.

Books

In April 1933 German Student Association called for German university students to destroy all “un-German” literature. Basically they wanted to sanitize history to suit their own traditions and philosophies. According to them everything which was not in line with the Germanic ‘values’ ,and especially anything Jewish,was deemed tainted and had to be purged.

They published what they called “Zwölf Thesen wider den undeutschen Geist,-twelve Theses Against the Un-German Spirit”. The document was published in several German media. Below is an English translation of the text.

” Twelve Theses Against the un-German spirit!
1. Language and literature have their roots in the people. It is the German people’s responsibility to assure that its language and literature are the pure and unadulterated expression of its Folk traditions.

2. At present there is a chasm between literature and German tradition. This situation is a disgrace.

3. Purity of language and literature is your responsibility! Your people have entrusted you with the duty of faithfully preserving your language.

4. Our most dangerous enemy is the Jew and those who are his slaves.

5. A Jew can only think Jewish. If he writes in German, he is lying. The German who writes in German, but thinks un-German, is a traitor! The student who speaks and writes un-German is, in addition, thoughtless and has abandoned his duties.

6. We want to eradicate lies, we want to denounce treason, we want institutions of discipline and political education for us the students, not mindlessness.

7. We want to regard the Jew as alien and we want to respect the traditions of the Folk.

Therefore, we demand of the censor:
Jewish writings are to be published in Hebrew.
If they appear in German, they must be identified as translations.
Strongest actions against the abuse of the German script.
German script is only available to Germans.
The un-German spirit is to be eradicated from public libraries.
8. We demand of the German students the desire and capability for independent knowledge and decisions.

9. We demand of German students the desire and capability to maintain the purity of the German language.

10. We demand of German students the desire and capability to overcome Jewish intellectualism and the resulting liberal decay in the German spirit.

11. We demand the selection of students and professors in accordance with their reliability and commitment to the German spirit.

12. We demand that German universities be a stronghold of the German Folk tradition and a battleground reflecting the power of the German mind.

The German Student Association.”

Although these theses did not themselves expressly call for book burning, it is what triggered the book burnings across Germany and Austria in May 1933. This was only a few months after the Nazi party had taken power.

Frankfurt

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

 

Sources

USHMM

Library Arizona