From AP News on June 6, 2019 …
“Queen Elizabeth II is set to join British Prime Minister Theresa May and other world leaders for a ceremony on the southern coast of England that will start two days of commemorations for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. More than 300 World War II veterans plan to be at Wednesday’s ceremony in Portsmouth to mark the dangerous operation that took Allied troops across the English Channel to land on beaches in German-occupied France.
“Also expected are presidents, prime ministers and other representatives of the countries that fought alongside Britain: the U.S., Canada, Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Denmark, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland.
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel also was invited to honor the invasion.
“Merkel told reporters Wednesday that ‘this unique military operation eventually brought us the liberation from the Nazis.’”
In July of 1985, I was living in Atlanta and was an executive for a small company that had ties to a manufacturing plant in Tennessee. Our relationship soured and litigation eventually ensued, but before that deterioration, I visited the opposing attorney’s offices. That meeting will be etched in my mind, forever. The attorney’s name ended in III, and he had two claims to fame. One was that his address was P.O. Box 1, Centerville, Tennessee, a clear statement of his vanity, and the other was the over-sized glass display case in his offices. World War II memorabilia, including a scrawled letter from his father, whose name ended in II, to his mother. II had also been an attorney, and his role in World War II was that he was the defense council appointed by the U. S. Army to defend several Nazis on trial at Nuremberg. His heartfelt letter to his wife described the tortured emptiness within him when verdicts were rendered and all but one of those he had defended were sentenced to death and were subsequently hung for war crimes. The man’s letter to his wife described a personal sense of failure at not having defended fifty men more skillfully, while my attitude was, and remains, that the real failure was that one had somehow escaped the gallows.
In the eventual litigation, by the way, the folks in Tennessee elected to have III’s former law school roommate defend them in court. You will doubt the veracity of this statement, even with firm assurances that I’m being completely honest here, but the young attorney doing battle for the Tennessians was named Jefferson Davis. Yup, scout’s honor. He was young and immature, and my Harvard grad attorney mopped the floor with him. A great day in litigious sports.
At the Nuremberg trials, many defendants proclaimed their innocence. They committed no crimes, they personally knew of no war crimes having been committed, and they had never been members of the defunct Nazi party. Within Germany, there was an overall statement of denial. Few would stand at attention after the allied victory, click their heels together and perform that heinous salute. No one had been a Nazi, and no Nazi sentiments were espoused by the citizens of that nation moving forward.
Angela Merkel’s father was a man named Horst Kasner, (August 6th, 1926 to September 2nd, 2011). Mr. Kasner later in life became a Protestant theologian, but in high school he was an active member of the Hitler Youth and was promoted to the position of troop leader. No, I am not accusing Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, of any political or racial beliefs other than those she publicly proclaims. Nor will I condemn her for the sins of her father. But what I will do is state my opinion that Nazism and anti-Semitism are alive and well in Germany and here, in the United States.
Do we seriously believe that after the Germans took off their little brown uniforms, anti-Semitic sentiment was shunned, as well? I, for one, do not subscribe to that foolishly naïve concept. The premise of, “Never Again” in my book must also mean, “Never Forgive,” and by allowing Angela Merkel and other representatives of Germany to attend the 75th anniversary memorial to the D-Day invasion smacks of hypocrisy. In that same vein, would it be reasonable to invite Charles Manson’s mother to the solemn 50th anniversary service of Sharon Tate’s murder on August 9th of this year? Or perhaps to have Ali Khamenei in attendance at my son’s Bar Mitzvah? I am repulsed that a representative of Germany, who also has the audacity to proclaim that our honored dead freed Germans from the oppressive rule of Nazism, is allowed to attend any memorial functions at Normandy. I also don’t like the fact that the D-Day Visitors’ Center, at a cost of more than twenty million dollars, was funded by the United States government. Clearly, France should have borne that cost. Or to assure that Angela’s heart is actually in the right place, we might send Germany the bill for that memorial.
What might Angela Merkel say to the families of British, American, Canadian, Australian, and those of the other nations who participated in the invasion on June 6th, 1944? “Thank you for freeing Germany from Nazi tyranny,” is a repulsive insult. A simple, heartfelt apology for the behavior of her nation at that time in history might have sufficed.
According to an article published on February 20th, 2019 in USA Today, there are more than one thousand far-right hate groups in the United States. Another article, published this past week in Chabad.org mentions this … “Five and half million American white supremacists and the millions more who think like them …” And in Germany, that nation’s largest opposition party, the far-right Alternative für Deutschland, the AfD, is growing in strength.
Angela Merkel leads a nation that, with the simple wave of a magic wand, can dust off those uniforms and begin goose-stepping again. It can happen there, and it can happen here. We, meaning the Queen of England and our president, should have informed Germany that the services for our World War II deceased are quite private, and those who murdered our sons on those beaches are not welcome there, on that day.