Saturday, June 04, 2016

It took a Trump candidacy for my German-Jew father to finally break his silence

(My father as he arrived in New York from Germany, April, 1952.)
Long-time readers of my blog will remember my father from this post, in which he shared some of his experiences and documents from WWII with his grandchildren. He has always been extremely private and protective about his past, writing prolifically for family, but never willing to share beyond those he knows.
Until now.
He’s almost 88 now, but my father has finally broken his silence. This is what it took – this Trump candidacy for president of the United States -- for my father to agree to speak up publicly.
In what is a huge move for him, Dad agreed to send a letter to the editor of his small town newspaper. I was able to convince him to send his letter to newspapers with slightly higher readership – like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Chicago Tribune.
But here it is on my little blog as well, posted with his permission – FINALLY! I hope it has an impact.
Please share, share, share!

Being a Holocaust survivor, I am one of only a few people who, as a teenager of 15, was old enough to have experienced Hitler’s coming to power.  Now, as an old man, I am witnessing our current US situation.   I was a German citizen then and there, I am a US citizen here and now.  I cannot be quiet any longer; I must recall my memories.
If you hear the speeches now, just mentally substitute “Mexicans” and “Muslims” with “Jews,” and there you have Hitler in the 1930’s -- the same gestures, the same shouting, the same continuous referrals to himself.
A year or so after getting "emergency power,”  Germany -  once a democratic country - was no longer recognizable as a democracy.  Yes, FDR got a similar authority, but he was no Hitler!
“Trust me!” Hitler had said, and the Germans did.  They loved him for verbalizing the already-existent anti-Semitism, not unlike the feelings and fears that many Americans  have now about Mexicans and Muslims.
Hitler did not rise to power because “it had been built into the German DNA" (per Jochen  Bittner, NY Times 5/31/'16, article entitled "The West's Weimar Moment").   Hitler told us exactly what he was planning to do.  Hitler, too, told Germans to trust him.  He, too, knew precisely how to convince people, and how to win.
One of the first things the Nazis did was to get control of the press.  Now, we see the press being slammed and an ABC News reporter being called “a sleaze.” Watch it.  This is well beyond normal election talk.
Yes, there are real differences, but identical circumstances are not a requirement for being doomed to repeat history when we have chosen to ignore it.
Yours truly,
Thomas Heumann

I am going to visit my father in early July and am hopeful that he will allow me to “interview” him and post snippets to my blog. I truly believe that his memories, his message, and his voice – right now -- can have an important impact that could, at the very least, prompt some who have not been listening to take note.

(My father and me. April, 2015)

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