Why was growing up as a child in post war Germany different to a childhood in America?
At the age of eight I had to face the brutal fact that my parents belonged to a generation of Germans, who did not just start the second war of the century.
They killed with well organized German perfection and proficiency some 10-12 million Jews and other “undesirable elements” of our human race.Why? Why, in God’s name why?
A man, who was the master of words, whipped them into a frenzy of enthusiastic hate. He reached out and was able to touch the most primitive feelings within a people. He lifted the pride for the German race by creating the hate against the Jews.
The big difference between Hitler and other mad men of the past, though, were in the tools he used. For the first time in human history you were able to reach millions over the air waves. The radio became the instrument which helped Hitler to transmit his thoughts and evil powers to the masses of Germans. Masses that were hungry for leadership. They were exhausted and devastated by the stranglehold of the suffocating settlement of World War One and the great depression.
Questioned about their involvement in the war, my parents shied away from real, solid answers, like so many other Germans. “See, they, the Nazis, took our guns from us, they ran the news papers and the radio, they took God and the Bible out of our lives, they made Government to be the almighty provider for all the needs of the people, and worst of all, they took over the schools and with it the minds of millions of children.”
Today I would say: sounds like a bunch of Liberal Democrats had come into town. At the age of eight or nine, though, you get a pretty empty feeling in your stomach.
I never went to church as a child, but religion was part of the German school curriculum. My exposure to the Old Testament coincided with my discovery of the German past. I could not fathom how these anti Jewish acts could possibly have happened with the knowledge of the Bible. Didn’t they, the Nazis, not see that they took on God himself? How could they dare the Almighty and slaughter men women and children of such beautiful and, above all, chosen people?
I did not hate or despise Hitler. I did not question the war. The sum of my feelings were too occupied with the disgust for the generation of my parents, who did not participate in the atrocities but who were guilty by sittings still and letting it happen.
From that day on I had the overwhelming desire to be a Jew. As my study of History progressed I yearned to be a Jew, a Native American Indian, a black Slave, etc. …….just anybody who suffered from the oppression and injustices of human indecency, brutality, hate, lust for power.
.In the end it brought me to the conclusion that it all culminates into one single mystery, which is Life itself.
As long as humanity disrespects the precious gift of life so gently placed into the protectiveness of a mother’s womb, humanity will not be able to eradicate human bigotry and injustice.
No political expediency is worth the compromise of voting for a lesser of two evils.
If we cannot honor the beginning of life, we will never be able to serve justice to the ones who live.