Tag Archives: The Nazis

A Nazi Is Running For Congress In America

America is supposed to be a country where people of every faith, creed and color live in harmony with one another. The key word in this sentence is supposed.

Arthur Jones is running for Senate in Illinois. While he refers to himself as a “white racialist”, anyone else would refer to him as a Nazi.

He is an open anti-Semite, denies the existence of the Holocaust, and has stated in the past that he is of the opinion that African-Americans do not have the same intellectual capacity as Caucasian-Americans.

I’m appalled and offended by the words that are coming out of the mouth of this man. As an American and a human being, I am offended. While only time will tell, I can only hope and pray that the voters in Illinois do what is right and do not vote for Mr. Jones to become their Senator.

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Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America Book Review

In the 1930’s, Leon Lewis appeared to be just another unassuming lawyer from Los Angeles. But in reality, he was the head of a spy ring whose goal was to stop the secret Nazi invasion of America and protect the lives of the city’s Jewish population.

His story unfolds in the non fiction book, Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America, written by Steven J. Ross. Los Angeles was a target not only because it was home base of the entertainment industry, but also for the military sites that were close by. While the law enforcement chose to focus their attention elsewhere, Mr. Lewis and his ring of spies understood how important it was to uncover the truth before it was too late.

 

While the book is a little slow, it is worth reading until the end. Though the book is non fiction, Mr. Ross found a way to imbue the narrative with tension and danger. It reads like a fictional spy thriller, even with the documented historical facts.

I recommend it.

 

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My Opposition: The Diary of Friedrich Kellner – A German against the Third Reich Book Review

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” – Albert Einstein

It is often easier to go along with the crowd rather than make a stand against what you believe is wrong. The question is, when the time comes to make that stand, do you silently go along with the crowd or are you brave enough to make that stand?

In 1930’s Germany, Friedrich Kellner was an ordinary man. Married with one child, he was a mid level government official in a small town. He also vehemently disagreed with everything The Nazis were doing in Germany. While the war raged on and a majority of the German people were easily hypnotized by the Nazis, Mr. Kellner kept a secret diary full of personal insights and news clipping, revealing his disgust and anger for everything that was going 0n around him. His diary and his experience during the war will soon be told in a new memoir, My Opposition: The Diary of Friedrich Kellner – A German against the Third Reich.

Based on the diary found by Robert Scott Kellner, Mr. Kellner’s American grandson, the book is a true testament about how humanity and compassion can still exist, even when dictators rule and citizens are easily swayed to mindlessly follow what government officials are saying and doing. The publishing of the book is also quite timely, especially considering who occupies the Oval Office.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-Uprising (2001)

In the darkness of The Holocaust, there are few lights that still stand out against that darkness. One of the brightest is the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The 2001 television movie, Uprising, is the story of the fight by the ghetto’s inhabitants against their oppressors. Starring David Schwimmer, Hank Azaria and Leelee Sobieski, the narrative tells the story of how Jews, crammed into the old slum of Warsaw, fought back against the Nazis for a month in 1943. 

 

I think that this movie is important to watch. It’s important because not only does it dispel the myth that Europe’s Jews were mere lambs to the Nazi slaughter, it also is the story of how a small band of people can fight against tyranny, prejudice and murder.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Darkest Hour Movie Review

Winston Churchill was one of the greatest politicians and orators of the 20th century. He will go down in history as one of the men who saved Europe, democracy and Western civilization from the Nazis.

The new movie, Darkest Hour, starts off as World War II is beginning to engulf Europe. Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) is being forced to resign as Prime Minister due to his inability to lead the country during wartime become obvious. His chosen successor is Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman), whose reputation up to this point is not flawless. Churchill’s wife, Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas) convinces her husband to take the position. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Layton (Lily James) is hired as Churchill’s personal secretary. He is not the easiest man to work for.

Churchill has a choice to make. There is the possibility of making a deal with Germany and stopping the war in its tracks. Or, they could fight, knowing full well that lives will be lost in the process.

This movie is pure Oscar bait. Oldman’s performance is  truly exceptional. He is so good that I thought that at times, I was watching a documentary about Winston Churchill rather than watching a film with a fictional narrative and actor Gary Oldman playing Winston Churchill. I also appreciated that instead of putting Churchill on a pedestal, he is shown as a flawed human being who is suddenly thrust into a job that requires a decision that will forever change not just the fate of Europe, but the whole world.

I absolutely recommend it.

Darkest Hour is in theaters. 

 

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Kristallnacht

Yesterday, November 9th and today, November 10th is the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Translated into “Night Of The Broken Glass” Jewish owned businesses, buildings,homes and synagogues were destroyed.  Innocent Jewish civilians were murdered or arrested and imprisoned in concentration camps.

 

Kristallnacht was the beginning of the Holocaust. By the time World War II ended 7 years later, six million Jews were murdered, along with five million others who were deemed as “subhuman” by the Nazis and their supporters.

Unfortunately, this sentiment is not a new one, especially in America today. We have a President who is silently condoning the views and actions of the far right and the hate groups who in the past, have been forced into the shadows of our culture. If he had his way, immigrants, especially immigrants of color would be deported. Transgender troops who put the lives on the line for this country would be forced out of the military. The Press, as we know it to be, would be destroyed except for a few television channels and publications who mindlessly agree with him.  It is a figurative Reichstag fire that has the potential to destroy our democracy and everything that we as Americans hold dear.

If we don’t learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it. While Donald Trump is not a mirror of Hitler, there are signs and red flags that cannot be ignored. If we ignore them, we do so at our own peril.

 

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Book Review

Of all the intangible things in the world, innocence is the most precious of intangible things. It is also the easiest to take away.

In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne, Bruno is the young son of a German officer. His family is removed from their house in Berlin to a house in the country where his father has relocated for work. Bruno does not understand why they had to move. He soon meets Shmuel, a boy his own age who lives behind barbed wires and wears striped pajamas. Despite not understanding why Shmuel lives why he lives, Bruno and Shmuel become friends. This friendship will briefly enrich both boys lives, but will lead to devastating and heartbreaking consequences.

While this book is concise, it is mind-blowing. Told through Bruno’s point of view via third person, the story is told from an angle not seen in Holocaust fiction previously: a young boy who is unaware of the hate he should have in his heart and befriends another child whom he should hate, but doesn’t.

I keep thinking of the end of Romeo and Juliet when I think of the ending of this book.

See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love;
And I, for winking at your discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish’d.

If nothing else, this book reminds me that hate and love have equal power in this world, it is just matter of which one we choose to embrace and if we are truly wiling to accept the consequences of this hate if we choose that path.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Once We Were Brothers Book Review

Power is a seductive thing. Once we have a taste of it, we always want more.

Ronald H. Balson published his debut novel, Once We Were Brothers in 2013. In present day Chicago, Elliot Rosenzweig is a paragon of virtue. A success businessman who has given back to his community, no one would think twice that Elliot is not who he claims to be. But Ben Solomon knows the truth. Ben knows that Elliot Rosenzweig is really Otto Piatek, the Butcher of Zamosc.

Ben ambushes Otto/Elliot at a fundraiser, hoping to out him as the adopted brother who had a hand in murdering the family and the community that he was raised in. Before World War II, Ben and Otto were brothers in spirit. When Otto’s parents stepped away from their parental duties, Ben’s parents stepped in and raised Otto as if he was their own. But with the invasion of Poland by the Nazis, Otto slowly turned his back on the Solomons and morphed into the butcher of Zamosc.

Ben is determined to see justice pursued. He turns to private investigator/lawyer duo of Liam Taggart and Catherine Lockhart. Can Liam and Catherine help Ben to reveal the truth or is Ben just an old man who is losing his mind?

One of Mr. Balson’s best qualities as a writer is that he knows how to keep the tension going, in addition to keeping the reader unsure as to the outcome of the story. There was points in the novel when I was sure that Ben was crazy, but then there were other points when I was sure that Elliot would be outed as Otto.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Yom HaShoah

Today is Yom HaShoah, the day we remember the 6 million Jews murdered in The Holocaust.

I normally prefer to talk about The Holocaust in general terms, but I feel like today telling my family’s story.

In one sense I am quite lucky. My great grandparents settled in this country well World War I. By the time World War II started, their children, my grandparents, were growing up couched in the freedom and safety of America. The families they left behind were not so lucky. On my mother’s maternal line, both of her grandparents were born and raised in Dobromil, Poland (which is now in the Ukraine).

In the late 1970’s, at the urging of his children, my mother’s grandfather published a short book about the shtetl of his youth. It was called Dobromil.

The book is dedicated to the memory of his father, his siblings and their families who lost their lives because they were Jews.

Meyer (or Meir in Hebrew) Treiber was registered by one of my uncles on the Yom HaShoah database 40 years ago. Meyer was my mother’s great-grandfather.

The survivors are starting to pass away. Their first person accounts of the horrors they experienced will soon be a memory.

It’s important to remember all of the victims. Not just the Jews, but the Gypsies, the Homosexuals and everyone who was killed because they did not fit into the world that the Nazis envisioned. It’s also important to remember because the Holocaust is not the first, or the last mass slaughter in modern memory of human beings who were killed because they were different.

At the beginning and end of the day, we are all human beings. No matter what labels are used to define us, we are the same inside.

I’m going end this post with a quotation by Martin Niemoller that is as true today as it was during World War II.

First they came for the Socialists, 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.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Z”l

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Irena’s Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto Book Review

Irena Sendler is one of the unheralded heroes of the Holocaust. She did what many could not or would not do. Teaming up with her friends and colleagues, she was able to save the lives of 2500 Jewish children.

Tilar Mazzeo’s new book, Irena’s Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto, tells the story of how Irena Sendler and her network was able to save the lives of the 2500 Jewish children. Born to a Polish Catholic family in 1910, Irena’s family was far more tolerant and accepting of her Jewish neighbors and friends than others in Poland. Her early experiences led her to the moral conviction that she had to save as many young lives as she could.

Using her background in social work and her vast connections with both Jews and Christians, Irena worked feverishly to save the children. It was a dangerous task, if she or her colleagues were caught, the consequences for both the children and the adults were death. It was a task she willingly took on, knowing that one wrong move would mean the loss of countless lives.



I have mixed feelings about this book. There were some chapters where I could feel the tension and the danger in real-time, as if I was there. Other chapters I felt like they were filler, without real substance.

But overall, it is a good book and it is a reminder that despite the hate and the prejudice that exists in this world, there is still light and love and those willing to fight against hate.

I recommend it.

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