We Can Never Forget, and We Must Not Repeat


NEVER FORGET

Remembering the Holocaust in the Time of Trump, When Jews Fleeing Horror Were Denied Asylum in America

A long-buried documentary, co-directed by Alfred Hitchcock and produced by Sidney Bernstein, provides unequivocal proof of the Holocaust’s horrors. Bernstein’s daughter, Jane Wells, opens up about the film—and why Donald Trump and Jared Kushner should see it.

MARLOW STERN

This Friday marked Holocaust Remembrance Day, the 72nd anniversary of the Soviet liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps that claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people, most of them Jews. President Donald Trump chose to commemorate the occasion by releasing a public statement omitting any mention of Jews or the scourge of anti-Semitism (breaking with past GOP and Democratic tradition), and signing an executive order barring refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, including Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan.

“It’s repulsive,” Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, told CNN. “I mean, the timing is incredibly offensive. It was during the Holocaust that the world shamefully refused to give asylum to Jews and to others who were being murdered or about to be murdered in Nazi Germany.”

Indeed, during the Holocaust, as millions of Jews were being slaughtered by the Nazis, the United States enforced strict immigration quotas against Jews from Germany and Eastern Europe.

In June 1939, the ocean liner St. Louis sailed into the Port of Miami with 937 refugees onboard—nearly all Jewish and seeking asylum in the United States. They’d already been turned away from Cuba and Canada, and when they were denied entry into America, the ship was forced to return to Europe where many of its passengers were killed in the Holocaust. Even Anne Frank’s family made several desperate attempts to emigrate from Europe to America, only to be denied visas.

This closed-door policy was an extension of the Immigration Act of 1924, which sought to, in the words of dissenting Jewish-American politician Emmanuel Celler, create “a distinct American identity by favoring native-born Americans over Southern and Eastern Europeans in order to ‘maintain the racial preponderance of the basic strain on our people and thereby to stabilize the ethnic composition of the population.’” Both Congress and the public believed that these Southern and Eastern European immigrants, many of whom were Jewish, would take away jobs from Americans plagued by the Depression, and were racially inferior. Asians and Arabs were banned entirely.

A scene from the documentary 'German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.'

COURTESY OF 3GENERATIONS

A scene from ‘German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.’

There was also widespread paranoia concerning a “fifth column,” or the theory that, should Germany or Japan invade the U.S., embedded spies from those countries would help destroy America from the inside. This led to the cruel internment of Japanese-Americans, and the curbing of U.S. visas to those from Axis countries.

At a June 5, 1940, press conference, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated: “Now, of course, the refugee has got to be checked because, unfortunately, among the refugees there are some spies, as has been found in other countries. And not all of them are voluntary spies—it is rather a horrible story but in some of the other countries that refugees out of Germany have gone to, especially Jewish refugees, they found a number of definitely proven spies.”

This fear of immigrant spies was mostly just that. With the exception of a few highly publicized cases, including that of 28-year-old German Herbert Karl Friedrich Bahr, there’s been no evidence of a mass influx of immigrant spies during this time. In fact, there exist striking parallels to the GOP and President Trump’s Muslim immigrant panic of today, given that, of the 784,000 refugees settled in America between September 11, 2001, and October 2015, only three have been arrested for plotting terrorist acts. “And it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible,” wrote Kathleen Newland of the Migration Policy Institute. The terrorists behind the San Bernardino shooting, Pulse nightclub massacre, and Boston Marathon bombing were all U.S. citizens.

Earlier this month, the film German Concentration Camps Factual Survey was quietly released into select North American theaters. Produced by Sidney Bernstein, advisor to the British Ministry of Information, and co-directed by his pal Alfred Hitchcock, the documentary is comprised of footage shot by Allied American, British, Soviet, and Canadian combat cameramen as they liberated ten concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Dachau, and Majdanek. The images are unforgettable, from Nazi physician Fritz Klein being interviewed on top of a pile of bodies at Bergen-Belsen to long, uninterrupted pans capturing stacks of eyeglasses, wedding rings, toothbrushes, human teeth, and bags of hair collected by the Nazis. There are even collections of lampshades made of human skin.

“The panning shots were Hitchcock’s idea,” says Jane Wells, the daughter of Bernstein whose non-profit, 3generations, put out Factual Survey. Hitchcock advised Bernstein and his crew of soldier-documentarians by phone, and suggested the continuous takes because “he felt that people wouldn’t believe what they were seeing otherwise.”

Unfortunately, the film was never completed for a variety of reasons. It wasn’t until 2008 that the Imperial War Museum, using the original filmmakers’ rough cut, script, and shot list, finalized the editing process. The 75-minute finished film premiered 69 years after it was shot, at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival.

“I tried to enumerate the different explanations,” Wells tells me, before taking out a notepad and reading from it. “One was the fear it would alienate Germans when they were trying to rebuild Germany after the war. The second one is the British government didn’t want to build support for a Zionist state. The third is they didn’t want to create undue sympathy for Jews in particular, or to single Jews out for poor treatment. And the fourth one, which is the Imperial War Museum’s theory, is that its time had come and it had missed its moment.”

Its shelving was devastating to Bernstein, who refused to speak publicly about what Wells calls his “great secret” until he was interviewed for the 1985 documentary A Painful Reminder, which contained footage from his film. Parts of Factual Survey were also used in Billy Wilder’s 22-minute concentration camp documentary Death Mills (Die Todesmühlen), released in January 1946.

“Unless the world learns the lesson these pictures teach, night will fall,” Factual Survey’s narrator says. And according to Wells, “it’s hard not to see the parallel to today,” given the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. and abroad corresponding with the rise of Trump, candidate Trump dog-whistling to white nationalists during his campaign by sharing anti-Semitic memes that originated on neo-Nazi online message boards, and the ascendance of Steve Bannon, former overlord of the “alt-right” publication Breitbart turned Trump right-hand man, who’s been accused of serial anti-Semitism.

A scene from the documentary 'German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.'

COURTESY OF 3GENERATIONS

A scene from ‘German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.’

“To me, it’s horrific. I’d love to invite the President and Jared Kushner to come see this film, and love to encourage any Jews who supported Trump to come see this film. I know Jews who voted for Trump, and if you ask them about the rise of white nationalism or the ‘alt-right’ in the wake of Trump, they’ll say, ‘Oh, well his son-in-law is a Jew! His daughter keeps a kosher kitchen, how bad can it be?’” say Wells. “The rise of the ‘alt-right’ is completely awful. The way Jews have been called out on Twitter is horrible and disgraceful. I’d like some of these ‘alt-right’ people to also come see this film and try and explain to me why they think this didn’t happen or didn’t matter.”

“If you see this footage, “ she adds, “there is no way on God’s earth that you can argue this didn’t happen.”

Wells had initially planned to release German Concentration Camps Factual Survey theatrically on Jan. 27, 2015, in honor of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The film didn’t make it to cinemas until January 6thof this year, but she believes that, given the Syrian refugee crisis, it “will have more of an impact today than it would have even then.”

“It is a cry for reconnecting to our humanity, and I think that is a message that is very resonant today,” offers Wells. “When I look at the atrocities that are happening in Syria today, when I look at the situation with Native Americans in North Dakota, when I look at the rise of the fascistic far-right globally, it seems like we have forgotten some of our common humanity.”

 

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WORLD HISTORY ARCHIVE / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

‘BEWARE THE BEGINNINGS’

How the Nazis Took Control of Germany

Hitler was not that popular when he first took office, but the Nazis quickly changed that, for the simple reason that power magnifies the ideas of those who hold it.

PETER HAYES

Today, Jan. 27, marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. That event did not mark the end of the Holocaust—gassings continued until the eve of Hitler’s suicide on April 30, 1945, and thousands more died of the effects of starvation and mistreatment at places like Belsen even weeks after their liberation.

But Jan. 27 should put us in mind of the beginnings. How did this happen? In particular, how could Germany, by all outward indications a civilized and modern country, become a persecuting society, brutally indifferent to the fates of anyone outside its supposed “people’s community”?

These questions should worry people for all time.

Adolf Hitler was a minority choice to lead his country; when he took office, roughly 55 percent of Germans had never voted for him. Anti-semitism was prevalent in German culture but by no means dominant or respectable. The nation’s elites (the establishment) generally regarded the Nazi führer with disdain and mistrust and doubted his capacity to run a government, given his complete lack of experience at doing so. The consensus about the Nazis’ wild-eyed promises was captured by the oft-repeated German proverb, “Nothing is eaten as hot as it’s cooked.”

Six years later, most Germans were acquiescing, and many of them were trying to benefit from, the complete humiliation and dispossession of German Jews, their demotion to “subjects” of the Reich, and their forced expulsion from the country. Three more years on, most Germans, including those elite corporate leaders and civil servants who scorned Hitler in 1933, were not just turning a blind eye to, but facilitating enslavement and mass murder… and finding a great many helpers in the Axis-occupied and Axis-allied regions of Europe.

The key to understanding the transformation of Germans’ behavior is straightforward: power magnifies the ideas of those who hold it. Power enabled the Nazi regime to unleash the haters, to intimidate the squeamish, and to change the moral valence of prejudice from something frowned upon to something glorified as patriotic. Once that happened, individual self-interest took care of the rest.

Above all, power enabled the propagandists for Nazism to divide the world relentlessly into Us vs. Them and to shut down more nuanced perspectives. To Germans, the world became a perpetual struggle between poor, virtuous, and victimized Us, and malevolent, conspiratorial, and implacable Them. In such an unforgiving environment, all means of self-defense were justified, including preemptively striking Them—taking their rights away, concentrating them in camps and ghettos, wiping them out—before they supposedly had a chance to do their worst.

Demonization of “Them” is always the first step toward persecution and genocide. And an essential prerequisite for demonization is its proponents’ sense of victimization, of having been or being about to be robbed of a birthright. The adherents of modern anti-semitism, not only in Germany but elsewhere in Europe, were people displaced and diminished by the Industrial Revolution and threatened by the specter of communism. In our own day, the devotees of nativist populism, not only in the U.S. but also in Europe, are people declassed and disoriented by the digital revolution and alarmed by the rise of Islamism. Will they go the way of the Nazis toward ever escalating paranoia and persecution?

Only if governments help them. Populist movements, on their own, can’t make persecuting societies or generate genocides. These phenomena need office-holders to countenance, stimulate, and implement hatred. Only when powerful leaders choose to let discrimination and violence take hold, and then to accelerate these lusts, does systematic degradation, let alone mass murder, result.

That is the challenge the Holocaust poses all these years later: Which way will political leaders go? Toward feeding angry and vengeful segments of public opinion or toward promoting pluralism and progress? Because the prospects look chancy right now, we should all recall the words of another German proverb—“Beware the Beginnings”—and be ready to act on it.

Peter Hayes is professor of history and German and Theodore Zev Weiss Holocaust Educational Foundation professor of Holocaust studies emeritus at Northwestern University. W. W. Norton & Co. published his new book,Why? Explaining the Holocaust, on Jan. 17.

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I am sharing this with you because we just celebrated Holocaust Remembrance Day. Trump made a statement in which he mentioned all of the victimized people except the Jews. The Jews do know they weren’t the only people to be targeted; so were the Gypsies and  the Poles, the disabled, Catholics and homosexuals. Six million Jews were gassed, burned, died due to medical experiments, died from starvation, disease and exposure to the elements.

 

It is very dangerous when a leader goes after one particular group of people; when people in power say the “others” were less than human, responsible for all of the things that Germans found wrong with their lives; these “others” were sneaky and not to be trusted. We now have a man in the White House who is targeting Muslims, refugees, homosexuals and non-Christians, in exactly the same way, with most of the same rhetoric. How much is he capable of doing? Is he able to begin to round up people from these groups? Only time will tell.

 

In the meantime, I want to remind everyone that we all live here on this fairly small planet. I do believe in science, and science tells us the planet is suffering from our lack of proper stewardship. We are all brothers and sisters despite the minor differences between us. Whether you are black, red, brown, yellow, or white, we are all equal. Yes, I know that some people  say there is a difference but they are wrong. Those who savor their entitlement want to be at the top of the heap, but we all make a beautiful colorful mix together at the bottom.

 

No one race is better than another, no one religion is better than another. There is no reason to defile Islam by shedding innocent lives. There is no reason to condemn Shiites or Sunnis. Each is a journey to Allah.  Or Adonai. Or Buddha. Or any of the other Beautiful Names which people use when they speak of God. We are all children of the Universe, made from stardust. It matters not by what name we call God. Our prayers are heard, our petitions are accepted, and our gratitude pleases.

 

I believe Trump wants to divide people even more than they already are. I believe it is important to unite together to give support to each other, so no one ever has to stand alone. I am ready to register as a Muslim. I hope many of you will be also. Let us do what is right not what is expected.

 

Namaste

Barbara

Tamir Rice – Justice NOT Served


This is not the blog I planned for today. However, I lived in Cleveland, OH for twenty five years. My late husband was an engineer at Channel 8 TV where I got this breaking news.

Cleveland is a city that is trying hard to improve itself and it has in many ways. However, Cleveland is in Cuyahoga County and the FBI has unearthed corruption more than once. Elected officials are at this moment in time doing time for graft, corruption and a variety of other crimes.

I was still living there when Tamir Rice was shot to death. It was winter and there was snow on the ground. Tamir was a twelve year old child who was playing with a toy gun. As children have for generations, he was playing cops and robbers or cowboys or some scenario in his imagination that will we never know about.

A man saw Tamir and called 911. He saw a suspicious looking man. Then he gave the 911 operator a generic description, and mentioned that he thought that it might be a kid with a toy gun, he wasn’t sure. A cruiser was dispatched to the rec center, without being told the caller thought the gun might not be real. Tamir pulled out his play gun and within seconds he was dead. The cruiser pulled right up onto the sidewalk so they had to be able to see that he was a child. Even if he was tall for his age. Just as a side note, I have a thirteen year old grandson who is six foot two inches tall. But even a quick look at his face you can see he is a child. My grandson is white and Tamir was black.

The article and video tells us that Tamir’s mom is distressed. I guess so. I am distressed. I will never forget any of the black lives taken by police but Tamir will haunt me till I die. A cold day with some sun shining and a child goes out, not on the streets to cause trouble but to a recreation center to play. And before evening closes in on that playground, he is dead and his family will never be the same.

The media in Cleveland has hinted that this might be his own fault, now they are saying the cop was a rookie so it was unfortunate but he hadn’t had enough training yet. The 911 operator was a little at fault. So now, the decision has been made that no one is responsible for a black child out playing on a public playground and ending up dead.

This is my opinion, my take on what I heard and saw dozens of times on the media, I might be wrong but I don’t see that I am. What I see is a twelve year old child was murdered by the police for playing with a toy gun. Maybe they shouldn’t paint toy guns black. Maybe they should paint all toy guns yellow or orange or a neon color.

Maybe we should stop making toy guns. I think that is an excellent idea.

Maybe police should be taught to take more than 12 seconds before fatally shooting someone.

Maybe rookie officers need more training before going out into the streets.

Please give me your feedback as I am very interested in what the world thinks.

Namaste,

Barbara, the Idealisticrebel

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (Fox8 News) — Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty announced Monday afternoon that a grand jury will not bring charges against the two officers involved in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Tamir Rice investigation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police were called to Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland on Nov. 22, 2014 after a 911 caller reported a male in the area waving a gun.

“There’s a guy with a pistol,” the 911 caller told dispatch. “The guy keeps pulling it out. It’s probably fake.”

The officers were not told the gun may be fake before they arrived on scene.

Officer Frank Garmback was driving the police cruiser and stopped next to a gazebo, putting him and Officer Timothy Loehmann between Rice and the rec center. Police say they ordered Rice to drop the weapon before Loehmann fired twice.

Tamir Rice had an airsoft pistol that police say looked like a real gun.

The 12-year-old suffered one gunshot wound to the stomach and was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center, where he died the following day.

McGinty said from the information that was given to them, the officers were prepared to face a possible active shooter at the park.

He added that Loehmann had reason to fear for his life as he got out of the cruiser and saw a male with what appeared to be a gun.

“It would be irresponsible or unreasonable if the officer was required to wait and see if the gun was real,” he said.

McGinty said both Tamir Rice and Loehmann were both “no doubt frightened.” He said Tamir Rice likely intended to hand the airsoft gun over to the officers or show them it wasn’t real.

“But there was no way the officers would know that,” he said, adding they were seeing the situation from a different point of view.

McGinty added that the entire incident was a “perfect storm of human error.”

“The death of Tamir Rice was an absolute tragedy,” he said. “But it was not, by the law that binds us, a crime.”

McGinty said he called Tamir Rice’s mother to tell her the grand jury’s decision. Tamir Rice’s family released a statement through their attorney, saying they were “saddened and disappointed, but not surprised” by the decision. They are also renewing their request that the Department of Justice step in to conduct a “real investigation into this tragic shooting of a 12-year-old child.” Read more here.

“It was a rough call,” said McGinty, who recommended to the grand jury that no charges be filed.

McGinty said that there have been lessons learned already since the shooting of Tamir Rice.

“It should never happen again, and steps have been taken to make sure it is not,” he said.

McGinty said the city has since bought body cameras. Dash cameras are on the way for city police and suburban departments, he said.

“Now it is time for the community and all of us to start to heal,” said McGinty.

Officials show real vs replica gun

After McGinty spoke, Assistant Prosecutor Matt Meyer, chief of the Public Corruption Unit, went through the entire chain of events from that day.

 

Meyer said Rice spent several hours at the rec center the day of the shooting with the airsoft pistol.

Meyer said Tamir Rice got the airsoft pistol from a friend, who told investigators he’d removed the orange tip from the gun. The same friend warned Tamir of the “dangerousness” of using the gun, Meyer said.

Meyer showed a real gun vs. a replica of the airsoft pistol Rice had that day to show how similar they are.

Meyer emphasized that Tamir Rice was seen several times pulling the gun in and out of his waistband and pointing it at people. He also emphasized that the man who called 911 initially reporting his concerns about Tamir told dispatchers that the gun may not be real.

That information was not passed on to the officers, Meyer said.

After the shooting, Meyer said Loehmann told another officer who arrived on scene that “(Tamir) gave me no choice…there was nothing I could do.”

Meyer added that Loehmann was seen kicking the airsoft pistol onto the grass nearly 41 seconds after the shooting. (emphasis added) He said that indicates Loehmann thought he was dealing with a real firearm.( Really? Is it standard operating procedures to move a weapon at a crime scene?– Barbara)

“This case is a culmination of a tragic confluence of events,” said Loehmann, emphasizing that officers were dealing with a boy who appeared to be much older than 12.

McGinty said at the press conference that he wants to call on legislature and manufacturers to not make toy guns that look real.

He left the press conference without answering questions.  McGinty did say he may answer questions later in the day.

Following the announcement, Cleveland Police Union President Steve Loomis responded and said, “Nobody’s celebrating” but the union believes grand jury made the correct call.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the Rice family as well the officers that have been involved in this,” he said. “We have a ton of respect for the grand jury and not buying into the rhetoric and some of the nonsense that’s been going on out here. They made a thoughtful decision.”

Union lawyer Henry Hilow said, “We can’t look at this only through a two-second video.”
He believes the grand jury looked at the totality of the circumstances.

OFFICERS INVOLVED IN THE CASE:

Cleveland police hired Loehmann as an officer in March 2014. Previously, he was employed by the Independence Police Department, but resigned when he learned they had started the termination process.

His personnel file from Independence showed he was distracted and weepy during a state qualification course. It described Loehmann’s “dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to manage personal stress.”

A deputy chief wrote Loehmann did not have the maturity to work in the department, and that “time, nor training” would correct his deficiencies.

Garmback, who was Loehmann’s training officer, started working for the city of Cleveland in 2008. He received a Medal of Heroism for an October 2011 incident involving a man with a gun.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office received the criminal investigation in June and released the following reports:

W. Ken Katsaris, law enforcement officer and instructor in Florida
S. Lamar Sims, senior chief deputy district attorney in Denver
Kimberly A. Crawford, retired FBI special agent

One World Filled With One People


I am thinking today about the women who have been my friends and support in life. I am grateful for all that they have added to my life. As I think back it was they that helped me accomplish all that I have  done.  There is an connection between women forged by survived violence against women, injustice, oppression and we are an important part of American Life. We have stood up to discrimination and put-downs and we have gotten back up each time we were knocked down. In truth, we started a revolution that affects men and women everywhere.

I loved this video because as we move around the world living our lives, we meet so many men and women from other cultures and relighons. We all live here on this one planet. We don’t look alike, we don’t all think alike or love alike, but we are all children of the Universe. Love for the One and each other is what binds us together. Caring about all the women and men in the world who are suffering under oppression, who have not medicine for something as simple as TB or Malaria, who have to watch their children starve to death.

The language of the people of this planet is love, music, dance and creativity. This language is what gives us the courage to fight for the best in ourselves and each other.

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