Saturday, January 31, 2015


I would like to tell you a few stories which I hope you find interesting; perhaps even enlightening. Let's take "Karl". Karl was elderly man of around 70 years of age. He was a plumber by trade and spent his days walking the streets of his small town in search of his next job, which would hopefully earn him enough to pay for his and his wife's next meal, not to mention the rent! Years of a hard work and poor health care had left its mark on Karl. His back was bad, as were his hands and knees. He walked the dirty and smelly streets from sun up until sun down hawking his skills. His clothes were threadbare but always clean, well, for a plumber that is, and his shoes were well-worn hand-me-downs---third time.

But still, Karl was never bitter. He had a loving wife who took in laundry, which she did by hand every day. She also did some mending. On good days, she may get a job cleaning house for a few days while the regular maid was off on holiday. Then one day, Karl came home, extra tired but very proud of himself. He had had a good day---three jobs and the promise of a fourth! Outside the rundown and rat infested hovel which he called home stood his landlord. He stared at Karl with a look of hatred, curiosity, and more than a little trepidation. There had been visitors that day; very special visitors. Upstairs, waiting just inside their door of their apartment stood his wife. She greeted him with tears and a letter. Karl took it and with a quick glance handed it back. Karl couldn't read, but his wife could, a little. The letter, which was very official looking, instructed Karl and his wife to be waiting outside their apartment building promptly at 8:00 AM the next morning. They were to bring just enough clothes for a few days. Their key should be handed over to their landlord for safekeeping. Karl would not be needing his tools.

The purpose of the trip wasn't given, but rumors were that they're going to a special center for evaluation; perhaps to even see a doctor (his wife had been complaining about a bad tooth anyway and maybe someone would be kind enough to look at his hands which were so important in his line of work). Some said it's a resort they were going to, but who would send them---two old miserable wretches to a resort? It must be to a doctor. Maybe he could find some work there too, after all, even doctors have occasional plumbing problems! So the next morning, Karl and his wife waited patiently outside as instructed; having given their landlord their key...and his promise to look after everything (not that there was that much to look after). They didn't have to wait very long...

"Walther" as we will call him was a good man of about 20 years old, though he was what some would call "slow". His mother was an
older woman, way past her prime when she unexpectedly became pregnant and his father, a housepainter, was no "spring chicken" either. Walther was her fifth child; her third son. Walther always seemed different. As a child he could never keep up with other children his age. Often, he would sit in the corner by himself silently rocking himself, or he would go off alone while other kids played. Occasionally, he would sit in the kitchen looking longingly out the window and watching as the others played. They teased him unmercifully, and not just about being slow but about how he looked too. Walther was a different turned child, and a lonely one too.

One day during a routine office visit to the doctor, Walther's mother was told by their doctor that there was now a special place for children like Walther. There are doctors and nurses on site, so he would get good medical care, along with three healthy meals a day and even snacks like oranges or apples. He could be with other children that were like him; it would be an opportunity for him to make friends, and it was free. All that was needed was his referral to a specialist, another doctor; someone from one of the new government health agencies, and of course, the permission of her and her husband.

It wasn't a hard decision to make. Life had been hard, and not just since Walther came along. The economy has been doing badly and there just hasn't enough work to go around, and costs of taking care of Walther's special needs, well that too has been a burden on the family. Besides, the facility the doctor mentioned wasn't that far away and the family could visit every few weeks, and he would finally have friends. Oh, how the boy longed for a friend. So, a few weeks later arrangements were made for Walther. It was a sad trip, but it held so much promise, especially for Walther.

The family visited every few weeks just like they promised to do. Walther was always so happy to see them; happier still to introduce his parents to his latest new friend (although he often introduced them to the same individuals each time, he was happy...truly happy for perhaps the first time in his life). Then, about six months later, his parents received a rather unexpected letter from the government doctor at the special facility. Good news they hoped about Walther's treatments. He seemed to be making such good progress...

Seventy years ago, the notorious death camp at Auschwitz was liberated. It was January 27th, 1945. The liberation was at the hands of Soviet troops advancing from the east. It would prove to be the opening chapter of a unimaginable horror; a blight on not just the German People, or the Nazis, but on all humanity which still echoes today. Some six million Jews, perhaps more, died in these camps---by gas, execution, exhaustion, injection, disease, and starvation. They were experimented on like guinea pigs, and without the benefit of sedatives. They were allowed to feel nothing but raw pain. What most people don't realize today is the Allied leadership, including Roosevelt and Churchill, had known about these camps years earlier through various intelligence reports and smuggled photographs but chose to do nothing.

Prior to the war, the Nazi government shipped hundreds of Jews to both America and South America as a means of "cleansing" Germany, only to be rejected at the behest of the US government. They were returned to Germany where death greeted them at the ports. The Nazi Government has also repeatedly proposed finding them a possible new homeland outside of Europe; places like Ethiopia (Abyssinia), British Rhodesia, and especially French Madagascar were discussed. However, each of these proposals were rejected by the English and French. Meanwhile, Stalin had murdered tens of thousands of his own people, including fellow Slavs, Jews, and gypsies before the war even started.

There's also another story which most people don't know about. In addition to the six million Jews who perished, approximately five million gays, Slavs, political and religious dissenters, and gypsies--mostly Romani---were also murdered. In terms of percentage, the Romani gypsies lost a larger percentage of population than the Jews. But percentages only mattered to the Nazis who kept detailed records of every soul taken--from name and ages to location to the value of gold recovered from items such as jewelry or teeth, or in the amount of reusable leather recovered from luggage, wallets, purses or shoes. Badly needed resources were diverted from the war effort to expedite the delivery of these "undesirables" to concentration and extermination camps. The "Final Solution" was nothing if not efficient.

During the remaining months of the war, which ended in May, 1945, the Allies would push through Germany and occupied lands to liberate others held in these factories of death. For many it would be too little too late. For those that survived, life would begin again, albeit slowly; it would never be as they knew it before. Too many wounds. Too many memories. The once thriving Yiddish culture, with all it sounds and flavors, had all but ceased to exist. Only a remnant would continue to flourish in places like Chicago, Philadelphia, or New York. Of course, there was a certain irony. Had it not been for the persecution of the Jews, there would have been no international push for the creation of a Jewish homeland, but that's another story. As for the gypsies, without a public advocate, they were largely forgotten and faded quietly into the background of history and familiar ways. The others too gradually reintegrated back into society. Those not being able to bear the memories or face those who just a short time before had turned a blind eye to their suffering, simply chose to immigrate and start life anew. At the time of Stalin's death, he was preparing a new purge, which included members of the Jewish population under Russian control. By the time of his death in 1953, Stalin had murdered an estimated 20 million people.

Though the world pledged never to allow something like this to ever happen again, it has; many times over. It's happened in Bosnia, throughout Africa, parts of Asia, and it is currently happening in the Middle East to groups like the Kurds and Syrian Christians, and as before, the world has done little except for the occasional self-righteous admonishment. It has never ceased to amaze me the lengths humanity will go to in order to appease its gods in the name of "love" or "compassion" or racial purity; how many people must be sacrificed before their god is satisfied? Of course, in truth, it's rarely about a god or religion. Those are just handy tools. No less dangerous in the wrong hands than a gun. Ultimately is and has always been about power, wealth, and control. I can't help wondering when humanity will finally grow up. John Kennedy once said "Mankind must put an end to war, war would put an end to mankind".

As for Karl and Walther, Karl and his wife were taken to Auschwitz where the elderly couple were separated and murdered the same day
they arrived. For the Nazis, they were too old to be of any value. Many were murdered using a form of gas call Zykon B which was manufactured by the Bayer Corporation. The letter Walther's parent's received from the government doctor who had befriended them and their mentally handicapped son, read that Walther suffered an seizure and died unexpectedly. In reality, he was euthanized along with his new friends. Apparently, the Nazis didn't believed his life was worth living either. The program to murder those with inheritable disabilities, mental illnesses (which was classified as including so-called "deviant" or non-conforming behavior, depression, homosexuality) or the mentality handicapped was known as Action T4 and funded in large part by the Rockefeller Foundation. Approximately 270, 273 individuals died in this fashion. Not all were murdered however. Some 400,000 were sterilized for reasons like chronic depression or epilepsy. Finally, I would like to point out something else about Karl and Walther. They were relatives of mine, and there were others. I've added two links below which tell the story of two other relatives who faced the Holocaust---the Shoah as the Jews refer to it. One managed to survived. One did not.

We continue to turn a blind eye to what's happening around us. We're too wrapped in our video games and so-called "reality TV" to notice. We're always "to busy" to be involved in our children, our communities or even to vote. We've lost our democratic republic. In its place now stands an oligarchy. What will it take to get us to stop and look up?

Malchen Berlin

The Doctor's House (in German)

First They Came

In keeping with the topic, I would like to share one of my favorate poems about political apathy. It was written by Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984) who was but one of the voices who spoke out against the rise of rise of evil which he saw slowly rising all around him. For speaking out, Pastor Niemoller was arrested in 1937 and sent to first to Sachsenhausen Consentration Camp and then later to Dachau where he was held until being liberated in 1945.

First they came for the Socialist and I did not speak out-
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out-
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out-
because I was not a Jew.
They they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.

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