But it has. Yesterday in Charlottesville, VA, men carried Nazi flags at a white supremacist rally. The sight made me physically ill.
Throughout my life I’ve heard hubristic Americans condemn Germans for not standing up to the Nazis or stopping them. Comments like “I would’ve stood up to them!” and “It will never happen here” follow. Here’s the chance to stand up.
My father is German. He was a boy living in a small town in Germany during WWII. My dad didn’t speak German at home when I was growing up, and he worked to lose his accent so no one would know his heritage unless he told them. We didn’t celebrate anything German. Why would we when our heritage included the Holocaust? (I’m perplexed as to why Southerners want to fly the confederate flag and celebrate a heritage that includes slavery — it doesn’t make sense to me.) He came to the U.S. as soon as he could after the war and became a citizen.
In college I studied German language and history. My art history focus was on early 20th century German Expressionism. I needed to learn about the time period from the historical standpoint. I am not an expert, but I know enough to be aware.
My husband’s uncle fought in WWII to defeat the Nazis. I’m incredibly thankful for all veterans who fought to defeat the hateful regime. I owe my life to them because had they not defeated Hitler and freed Europe, my dad wouldn’t have become a U.S. citizen and I wouldn’t be here.
When I saw the current president descend his golden escalator on live TV to announce his candidacy, his words made me shudder and punched me in the gut. They had shades of what I’d read in textbooks and seen in film clips of Hitler in my German history classes.
So now I’m wondering how do I, as a lone individual in Wyoming, with my family heritage, respond to images of men proudly flying Nazi flags? I’m figuring that out. I tend to refrain from conflict. I’m a private, peace-loving person, but I won’t stick my head in the sand. I will love my neighbor (meaning all people) as myself. I refuse to give in to hate lest I become just like the men from around the country who gathered in Charlottesville, and I refuse to think that it won’t happen here, because it has.
6 thoughts on “It will never happen here (thoughts)”
I’ve been trying, all these months (that seem an eternity), to be good, to do right, to deny hate. I have tried to listen closely and talk calmly to friends who have opposing views. But it is hard, and I am struggling. And I often don’t know what to do, other than to teach my children that racism is real, that it is wrong, and that we must not be silent when we see it.
Thank you for commenting on your struggle, Jennifer. I can relate. Support from others, whether in person or online, is important and I appreciate it. Peace and goodwill to you.
I too am from German heritage. And you said what needed to be said. I thought when I left the 60s and 70s that we had put it to bed. But now we know that it has festered and hate has fuel once again. Blessed are the peacemakers… I just keep saying that and know that as artists, we are now being called to put out the flame of doubt. And fuel the flame of reality and hope. Thank you.
Thank you for your comments, Glenda. I like to fuel hope.
Well said Jennifer! The entire world is being challenged by this movement. I was sickened by trump’s hate filled messages when we was running for office – how he made fun of a handicapped reporter; “Through them out in the cold and keep their coats…” his countless lies and abusive remarks and most recently how he endorsed police brutality.
When our ‘leader’ (like Hitler) deliberately divides people like he is doing, nothing good can come from it. I, for the life of me, can not understand how Hitler or trump was / is able to brainwash seemingly intelligent people and encourage them to carry out heinous acts of terror and abuse. I pray that this nightmare ends soon.
In the meantime, I pray for all souls… those living and those who have passed.
Thanks for your thoughts, Rhonda. Peace and hope to you.
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