Coping by using humour.

A few years ago , on the 22nd of June 2016, to be precise I wrote a blog titled “Holocaust and Humour” . I got a lot of criticism for that. The thing I found extraordinary the criticism didn’t come from people who read the blog, but only from people who read the title.

I didn’t mean to disrespect any of the Holocaust victims and survivors, the opposite was true. I wanted to show my deepest respect because despite all the horrors so many still had a sense of humour.

This blog is also meant as a way of expressing my deepest respect for all Holocaust victims and survivors.

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the German constitution guaranteed freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Through decrees and laws, the Nazis abolished these civil rights and destroyed German democracy. Starting in 1934, it was illegal to criticize the Nazi government. Even telling a joke about Hitler was considered treachery. People in Nazi Germany could not say or write whatever they wanted.

The Treachery Act of 1934 was a German law established by the Third Reich on 20 December 1934. Known as the Heimtückegesetz, its official title was the “Law against Treacherous Attacks on the State and Party and for the Protection of Party Uniforms” (Gesetz gegen heimtückische Angriffe auf Staat und Partei und zum Schutz der Parteiuniformen). It established penalties for the abuse of Nazi Party badges and uniforms, restricted the right to freedom of speech, and criminalized all remarks causing putative severe damage to the welfare of the Third Reich, the prestige of the Nazi government or the Nazi Party. Anyone ,regardless if you were Jewish or Non Jewish, could face the death penalty for breaking this law.

Father Josef Müller, a Catholic priest, was executed for telling some of his parishioners the following story:

A fatally wounded German soldier asked his chaplain to grant one final wish. “Place a picture of Hitler on one side of me, and a picture of Goering on the other side. That way I can die like Jesus, between two thieves.”

The indictment against Müller called this joke “one of the most vile and most dangerous attacks directed on our confidence in our Führer. . . . It is a betrayal of the people, the Führer, and the Reich.”

I just love it how some Jewish people defied the Nazi regime and coped with the horrors of the Holocaust by using humour.

In some of the the ghettos, Hitler’s self proclaimed “masterpiece” was referred to as Mein Krampf (My Cramp). His ides of the “Master Race” was the subject of many jokes. These are just a few of them.

“There are two kinds of Aryan, Non Aryan and Barb-Aryan”

“Aryan, blond like Hitler, slender like Goering and tall like Goebbels”

Cutting the hair of the prisoners was one of the ways the Nazis tried to dehumanize their victims. It was like taking away their dignity and a sense of identity. But even that act did not stop some women to cope with it in a humorous way. This is just an anecdote on how one woman coped with the ordeal.

“When they cut our hair in Auschwitz, that was something terrible. After they cut off my hair, suddenly I saw some of my girlfriends (as in female friends) who I had known for a very long time, many cried. They cried after long hair and then I started laughing and they asked ‘What, are you out of your mind, what are you laughing about? ‘ I said’ This I never had before, a hairdo for free? Never in my whole life’ And I still remember how they looked at me, they looked at me as if I was crazy”

Another anecdote from a survivor was in relation to the transport on the trains.

“This whole situation, they shoved us into those trains. It was like cattle, it was something awful inside the train. When we have just arrived in Auschwitz everybody ran to the window, to see something, but you couldn’t. The window had shutters, a small window. I also wanted to see where we were. Then a girl friend asked ‘what do you want to see so badly?’. I said: ‘I simply want to see the conductor, ’cause I don’t have a ticket, I want to see when he comes in…’

I have quite a good sense of humour myself, albeit sometimes a bit on the dark side and filled with sarcasm, and I have used in many tragic episodes in my life. However I don’t know if I would have the courage to use humour if I was faced with the horrors of the Holocaust.

sources

file:///C:/Users/Dirk/Downloads/Laughter%20in%20a%20Time%20of%20Tragedy_%20Examining%20Humor%20during%20the%20Holocau%20(1).pdf

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/nazi-propaganda-and-censorship

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Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring

The plan of the Nazis was to eradicate anyone who they deemed not worthy. This didn’t mean only killing but also ensuring that not one person, who the Nazis considered subhuman, would be born.

On July 14,1933 the Nazi regime fulfilled the long-held dreams of eugenics proponents by enacting the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring. Individuals who were subject to the law were those men and women who “suffered” from any of nine conditions listed in the law: hereditary feeblemindedness, schizophrenia, manic-depressive disorder, hereditary epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea (a rare and fatal degenerative disease), hereditary blindness, hereditary deafness, severe physical deformity, and chronic alcoholism.

The basic provisions of the 1933 law stated that:

§ 1.(1) Any person suffering from a hereditary disease may be rendered incapable of procreation by means of a surgical operation (sterilization), if the experience of medical science shows that it is highly probable that his descendants would suffer from some serious physical or mental hereditary defect.

(2) For the purposes of this law, any person will be considered as hereditarily diseased who is suffering from any one of the following diseases:

(1) Congenital Mental Deficiency,
(2) Schizophrenia,
(3) Manic-Depressive Insanity,
(4) Hereditary Epilepsy,
(5) Hereditary Chorea (Huntington’s),
(6) Hereditary Blindness,
(7) Hereditary Deafness,
(8) Any severe hereditary deformity.

(3) Any person suffering from severe alcoholism may be also rendered incapable of procreation.

§ 2.Applications for sterilization can be made by the individual to be sterilized. If this person is legally incompetent, has been certified on account of mental deficiency, or is not yet 18, a legal representative has the right to make an application on this person’s behalf but needs the consent of the court of guardians to do so. In other cases of limited competency, the application needs to be approved by the legal representative. [ . . . ]

§ 3.Sterilization can also be requested by the following: 1. the state physician. 2. In the case of inmates of hospitals, nursing homes, and penal institutions, by the head thereof.

§ 4. The application is to be made to the office of the Eugenics Court; it can either be made in writing or dictated to the court. The facts upon which the application is based should be supported by a medical certificate or confirmed in some other way. The office must inform the state physician of the application.

§ 5.Responsibility for the decision rests with the Eugenics Court that has jurisdiction over the district in which the person to be sterilized officially resides.

§ 6. The Eugenics Court is to be attached to a district court [Amtsgericht]. It consists of a district court judge acting as chairman, a state physician, and another physician certified by the German Reich and particularly well trained in eugenics. [ . . . ]

§12.Once the Court has decided on sterilization, the operation must be carried out even against the will of the person to be sterilized, unless that person applied for it himself. The state physician has to attend to the necessary measures with the police authorities. Where other measures are insufficient, direct force may be used.

This law comes into effect on January 1, 1934.
Berlin, July 14, 1933.

The Reich Chancellor
Adolf Hitler

The Reich Minister of the Interior
Frick

The Reich Minister of Justice
Dr. Gürtner

This law meant that a woman like Gerda D., a shop worker, one of the estimated 400,000 Germans who were forcibly sterilized. She was sterilized after a disputed diagnosis of schizophrenia. Later, Nazi authorities forbade Gerda to marry because of the sterilization. So not only was she sterilized she was also not allowed to marry. All because of a questionable diagnosis of schizophrenia.

19-year-old Gerda D. was hospitalized in the psychiatric emergency ward of a hospital in Berlin. Although the diagnosis of Gerda as schizophrenic was uncertain, she was released only after being sterilized under the Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases.

The law itself was based on the American Model Eugenical Sterilization Law developed by Harry H. Laughlin.

sources

http://www.holocaustchronicle.org/staticpages/76.html

https://ghdi.ghi-dc.org/sub_document.cfm?document_id=1521

https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1933-1938/law-for-the-prevention-of-offspring-with-hereditary-diseases

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/the-biological-state-nazi-racial-hygiene-1933-1939

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When scientists pledged allegiance to Hitler.

Pledge

If anyone doubts it is not dangerous to link science with politics, they need to have a look at history to see how devastating that can be.

At the Albert Hall in Leipzig , on November 11, 1933-this was less then 8 months after Enabling Act was signed in which Hitler was given absolute power, the document entitled “the Vow of allegiance of the Professors of the German Universities and High-Schools to Adolf Hitler and the National Socialistic state” was presented.

The documents had  statements in German, English, Italian, and Spanish and was produced . by selected German academics and included an appendix of signatories. Each of them outlining their pledge and why.

The document also included an appeal to all intelligentsia in the world. Below is the English translations

appael

It had only been less then 3 weeks after the enabling act of March 24,1933 when the The German government issued the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service (Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums) which excluded Jews and  political opponents of the Nazis from all civil service positions. This also included scientists like Albert Einstein.

law

We all know the results of these laws and arrangements. Science was aligned with politics and government and no one was held to account for the consequences of their actions.

 

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Sources

https://archive.org/details/bekenntnisderpro00natiuoft/page/n1/mode/2up

https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.4.20180926a/full/

The execution of 9 Polish farmers.

notification

I would love to explain the exact reason why these 9 Polish men were executed on November 25,1941. But I can’t.

Looking at the text of the German announcement which was signed by the by the governor of Lublin district,all that the announcement indicates is that the men did not fulfill their quota and were therefor in breach of Article 1 of the  Kriegswirtschafts verordnung , War Economy Regulation. which states:

“Anyone who destroys, disposes of, or withholds raw materials or products that belong to the vital needs of the population, and thereby maliciously endangers the cover of this need, will be punished with a prison sentence or in particularly severe cases can be sentenced to death.”

This law was of course deliberately vague so that the Nazis could apply it in whatever way they wanted to.

These 9 men were likely executed for keeping some food for themselves or their family.

The law stayed in place until after the war. It was finally replaced in 1949 by the Economic Criminal Law

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Source

Bundesarchiv

 

Isolating the Jews.

duif

Long before the first trains left for the concentration camps , the Jews in Germany were isolated. Not yet by putting them in ghettos but by removing them from every aspect of social life.

On this day 80 years ago the Jews were forbidden to keep  carrier pigeons ,aka homing or postal pigeons, as ordered by The Reich Ministry of the Interior.

You may think”What’s the big deal in that?” It may not look like a very harsh measure but this law was the last law ensuring the Jews would have no communication with the outside world.

Any one who knows something about keeping carrier pigeons knows that these birds were not just common pigeons . They are trained for a long time and it is very costly.

So not did the Nazi regime starve the Jews from the last means of communication, it also destroyed a hobby of those who would have invested a lot of time and money.

Yet another bit of psychological torment.

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The irony of breeding the perfect aryan race.

Capture

The Nazis wanted to have a pure Aryan race. A race without any defects or deformities. They introduced several laws to ensure this would happen. Before they started with mass exterminations they first tried with the sterilization of certain ‘risk’ groups.

On July 14 1933 the  “Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases,” was introduced, it was made active in January 1934.

I won’t go into too much details of this law but I will give an overview of it.

The  the 1933 law stated that:

(1) Any person suffering from a hereditary disease may be rendered incapable of procreation by means of a surgical operation (sterilization), if the experience of medical science shows that it is highly probable that his descendants would suffer from some serious physical or mental hereditary defect.

(2) For the purposes of this law, any person will be considered as hereditarily diseased who is suffering from any one of the following diseases: –

(1) Congenital Mental Deficiency,
(2) Schizophrenia,
(3) Manic-Depressive Insanity,
(4) Hereditary Epilepsy,
(5) Hereditary Chorea (Huntington’s),
(6) Hereditary Blindness,
(7) Hereditary Deafness,
(8) Any severe hereditary deformity.
(3) Any person suffering from severe alcoholism may be also rendered incapable of procreation.

But as so many times before the Nazi leadership cherry picked those who would be sterilize, and in here lies the irony. If they would have enacted on the law 5 of the 6 Goebbels children would not have been born, for they were all born after the law became active.

Joseph Goebbels suffered from ill health and was born with a deformed right foot that turned inwards, due to a congenital deformity. A condition that could have been transferred to his children.

JG

Himmler also had health issues ever

since he was a child and it is believed Hitler had Huntington’s disease among other ailments.

To get a wide endorsement for this law , the German government referred  to the success of sterilization laws elsewhere, especially the work in California documented by the American eugenicists E. S. Gosney and Paul Popenoe.

Popenoe even wrote that “the German law is well drawn and, in form, may be considered better than the sterilization laws of most American states”, and had complete trust  in the German government’s “conservative, sympathetic, and intelligent administration” of the law, praising the “scientific leadership” of the Nazis..

Just think about that for a minute ‘conservative, sympathetic, and intelligent’ basically this was giving the Nazis a carte-blanche to what ever they felt like doing, a big thumbs up from the international scientific fraternity.

The aforementioned Joseph Goebbels did his utmost to convince the German popuation that this was the right thing to do. Via propaganda in the media they came up with posters and slogans saying “Sterilization-Not a punishment but liberation. What parent would wish their children such an awful fate, Who would want to be guilty of this?”

Punishment

If it wasn’t a punishment why did he not get himself sterilized?

 

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