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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Suzie Heumann said...

Trump is very frightening. I don't think he is electable but it is worrisome that he is even the GOP nominee. So hard to believe.
I think that it is people like you, Thomas, who have the memories, who need to remind us of reoccurring patterns in history. They do exist and we are fools to not pay more attention to them. One of the faults of the human brain - we think we know it all and that it's never been done before!
Thank you for the reminders and I hope it gets to the many people who need to hear it!

Anonymous said...

Thank-you Dad! Maybe more of us will speak up now.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your warnings. I hope people will hear you. Yes, Trump is the new face of Hitler. The German people committed atrocities for him and the Americans are already showing their darker side for Trump. If he succeeds how will we look at ourselves or our neighbors in the mirror. Trump really scares me. I'm from England, born just a few days before D-day. I went to a school where having a father was a rarity. I grew up in the aftermath of a war based on the ravings of a great salesman, a salesman who sold extermination and torture. Don't let Trump have the same power, he's a salesman, he wants USA to be his company, to rule tyrannically.

Carol said...

So well stated! Thanks so much for your reply! The voices of those who lived through Hitler's rise to power and rule must now be LOUD! Thanks for speaking up.

Anonymous said...

I heard Trump's speeches and recognized the language from 70ish years ago. I only saw the newsreel footage. My Jewish family had mostly immigrated to the U.S. from Russia/Poland at the beginning of the 20th century, but the rhetoric was the same. The manipulation of people by tying into their fears was real. Looking for a scapegoat... wow. That was the set up then. Within hours of hearing this kind of rhetoric my family was on the phone with me. "Where are we going to go if he gets elected?" I don't know. What a thing for an American family, some of us no longer actively practicing only as Jews, but aware of our Jewish ethnicity and still respecting and partaking of our family heritage, -- we were trying to put a plan in place to leave our homeland if it becomes necessary and not to let the signs pass us by until it is too late. Thank you for sharing this. If we do not know history we are destined to repeat it. Thank your father. Make videos of him. His voice is precious and necessary. When money is tight and resources to support our families are hard to come by minorities take the brunt of the pushback from frustrated people only too willing to do harm to whoever can be blamed. Thank you, Debby Rettino

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This is what we've been saying.

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