Last week many of you living across Germany watched (few actually marched) the protest against the war between Israel and Hamas in major cities such as Frankfurt (birthday place of my Grandfather, Wolfgang Stimler) and Berlin. Now everyone has a right to express themselves and people can march to your heart’s desire. Tragically once again the o so familiar chants of “death the Jews” and “Gas the Jews” were ringing through the streets of the Fatherland. Now even those who didn’t march or chant, this very action should make you the youth shudder to the very core and should have set off a firestorm on social media voicing a deep concern and a counter protest against these chant, but as they say “ all is quiet on the Western front”. Besides your politicians with their usual apology where are you?, where is your indignation? your fury, your anger?
Of all the countries in the world you my dear Germans must speak up, asking you to be vocal in support of Israel would be a little much agreed, but shame of you the next generation for this ungodly silence. Have you forgotten your past sordid history, have you forgotten what starts with a chant becomes an idea and that idea becomes a reality.
Besides for one old man (70 year old Berlin resident Bernd Wierer) the rest of you and your parents and grandparents once again before stood by and watched in silence. Maybe you need a little reminder, for only by looking to our past can we guide our future.
The last time your nation was screaming “Boycott the Jews” it was led by a small demonic man called Adolf Hitler, you remember him right. It all started innocently enough, much like here. German 1933, what started with a boycott of Jewish shops and businesses, grew into a something that mere words can hardly describe. Next came many little small laws targeting Jews, the expulsion of all non-Germans, the ban of a non-Jew marrying a Jew, nothing to threatening at the time. Then much like last Sunday a big demonstration was held in Nuremberg where Herr Hitler waved his hands furiously and your grandmothers, aunts and cousins waved, saluted ecstatically, your grandfathers, fathers, uncles goose stepped and screamed over and over “Seig Heil”. Cheering each new law stripping away all the rights of the Jew. Segregation, No access to hospitals, Officers who had served with distinction expelled, doctors no longer allowed to practice, dismissal of all Jewish workers and managers and a transfer of all business and enterprises to non-Jews were to follow.
It doesn’t get better in case your memory is hazy. Next your leaders, patriarchs and matriarchs feeling this treatment was just too welcoming decided to step it up a notch. Kristallnacht had been such a smashing success and galvanized and bonded both the young and the old in its common love of beating and murdering Jews. More laws were introduced, my grandfather a young boy was no longer allowed to go to the park, he didn’t understand why his father store didn’t have any glass in the windows, put the park he told me he loved and didn’t know why he could no longer go play with his old friends.
Now for a people that really hated Jews universally, you went and invaded a bunch of countries with millions more of us. What to do, your wise predecessors came up with forced Ghettos and mass starvation began. But that didn’t work for you Germans, to messy, to long, no precision, and such a pain to wait for these pesky Jews to die. The method of mass graves and Einsatzgruppen also wasn’t economical and Babi Yar (the murder of 34,000) and others was just so noisily and wasted to many bullets.
So your grandparents those in high positions decide to have a board meeting and figure out how to solve the Jewish Problem. The Wannsee Conference, where compatriots drank tea and ate sausage sandwiches sat and developed a master plan typical of German ingenuity. Concentration camps, Work Camps, Lagers, Sub camps. Different types of camps to deal with my grandparents and millions of other Jews, huge sprawling work camps for slave labor for IG Farben, Audi. BMW and some other excellent proud German companies. Death camps for the old, the sick, the babies, women, young children, even the design was genius, shower rooms that spray gas instead of water, and then big ovens like they have in bakeries to burn the remains.
You countrymen killed 6 million Jews and countless others in an organized thought out manner. That number is so big it’s hard to even believe, that’s like wiping out New Zealand or Costa Rica twice over. Now I have heard it over and over again every time I meet Germans, the same story “my grandfather hide Jews” in a country of 80 million people it’s amazing I never met a single former Nazi, or a person that was related to a Nazi only people that saved Jews. Calling it Nazism has spared you a lot because you can lock it away and excuse it and say it was the Nazi’s not us, but that is not true, it was the German politicians and general public that planned, carried out and allowed the greatest evil ever perpetrated in the history of the world, it wasn’t an alien landing in 1936 of this new specie Nazis and then all of them leaving in 1945 they are still very much in your midst and you know this.
Now your grandparents and country tried to buy its forgiveness, gave money to survivors and paid a debt to Israel (which nearly tore the country apart) and while we tend to repeat the mantra of “forgive but never forget” it’s not true when we see marches in Berlin and other Germans cities with the same regurgitated slogans just replaced with Israel instead of Jew and we hear silence from those that should know so much better. Last time you were silent didn’t turn out so well for us.
We do hold you to a higher standard. You should hold you to a different standard, have you not learnt “All it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing”. So to you the new generation hopefully enlighted of Germans I say, the only marches you should be holding in terms of Jews and Jewish interest is the march of the living, the only posters you should be holding up is “never again” because it wasn’t Nazis that killed so many old man and women, young parents, young lovers, teenage boys and girls, little sweet innocent children and fat cheeked babies, it was Germany that did, and to antone from the sins of your forefathers you should be screaming the loudest that “we will not be tarred by this evil again, not on our watch not in our time”, and we will join the lone brave voice of Bernd Wierer. Be the new Germany and raise to quell those vicious chant, saying this will not be tolerated in our midst for we are not them, we have seen what has been and we will neither be party or be silent, we will not make the same mistakes our people made 70 years ago.
I believe in the new Germany, I want to believe that what happened is in the past is in the past, that the lessons and memorials that dot your countryside will serve not only as a deterrent to hate but also inspire you to rise above that for no one knows better, “what starts with the burning of books and flags end in the burning of people”