Updated: Sep 1
"Education is not memorising that Hitler killed 6 million Jews. Education is understanding how millions of ordinary Germans were convinced that it was required. Education is learning how to spot the signs of history repeating itself." - (unknown)
This blog took me hours to write as I struggled with whether to share what is on my heart because it is more divisive than a US Presidential Election. I do not speak from a place of fear or doom and gloom. My intention is to create an open and safe conversation, not to stand on a soapbox in any way shape or form. I speak as a fellow human seeing your pain, fears, beliefs, and experiences and hoping in return, that you can stop for a moment and see mine. I acknowledge that I am no expert in history, politics, medicine or psychology. I simply ask that you read this knowing it was created with love, gentleness and humility.
This is about serving humanity as best I know how from my little suburb south of Sydney in hard lockdown. For those of you in other parts of the world reading this, for the past two months we have not been able to leave our homes outside of a 5 km radius without the risk of enormous fines. Most businesses are closed, including the major department and hardware stores. All of my performances have been cancelled, postponed or turned virtual. We have a 9 PM curfew and police are fining people for unheard of things. This includes things like a $1000 AUD fine for surfing or parking your car outside of your own home (if not in the driveway and technically on council land)! This blog is about awareness.
As a child between the ages of 8 till about 13, I was obsessed with the Holocaust and spent hundreds of hours during those years reading children's books based on that poignant time in history. I could get lost for hours daydreaming of what I hoped I would have done as a Jew or a German during the 1940s. I laid awake at night, thinking of the stories where German children gave their papers to their Jewish friends to help save their lives, or how secret walls were built in homes to protect Jews from certain death. I wondered what I would have done in their shoes. How I dreamt of standing up for humanity. I drew maps of my Singapore apartment and later, Southern California house, daydreaming of secret doorways masked as bookshelves, drawing where I would have placed them within the architecture. I imagined myself bravely standing up to the police and the powers that be even if it meant the firing squad. I don't know what you were daydreaming about at the age 10, but that's what I was up to.
Three decades have passed and I realised last night with utter shock and dismay, that for the past few months I have been the numbed, silent Jew watching my rights being taken strategically away one by one and just hoping somebody else will stand up for my family and I. Last night, I heard that little girl inside of me yell, "You live an hour from Auschwitz (aka The Sydney Olympic Park Vaccination Centre) and are doing nothing!! You see what is happening and yet are allowing your friends to walk willingly into a gas chamber thinking they getting to take a refreshing hot shower after a long journey!" In my silence, I also realise that I am the German watching the rights of fellow humans stripped strategically and staying quiet in my locked down bubble with paints, a puppy and Netflix, pretending it will all blow over soon.
So, in order to avoid my site being taken down along with the thousands of others who have tried to speak up, I am going to just write about history, and allow you to read between the lines and come to your own conclusions. The similarities are a bit...hmm...intriguing...as I search for neutral terminology. For those who need a little help in decoding, when you see the word Jew, I am hoping you will see yourself, and within a few paragraphs you will see it becoming those who haven't rolled up their sleeves to receive "it". Make sense?
When Hitler came to power, he immediately created the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, "demonstrating his belief that controlling information was as important as controlling the military and the economy." (facinghistory.org) Using the German Parliament, he issued emergency degrees that marked the end of all basic freedoms. This included the freedom of speech, press, assembly and protection from random arrests.
On April 1, 1933, Germany held a one-day boycott against Jewish businesses. Keep in mind these people had all lived amongst each other for their entire lives! They were friends, colleagues, and family members (amongst the interracial marriages). Six DAYS later he created the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Service. This excluded Jews from university and government positions. And within weeks, also impacted Jewish lawyers, judges, doctors and teachers.
In 1935, the German government passed The Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honour and the German Citizenship Law. Also known as the "Nuremberg Laws", they prohibited marriage and sexual relationships between Germans and Jews. It also meant that only the German blooded could be citizens. By 1938, Jews are forced to register their assets; the first step towards complete exclusion from the German economy. Months later, Jewish doctors were no longer allowed to treat German patients. For those whose name was not clearly Jewish, they were required to add the name "Israel" or "Sarah" to their identification papers or passports.
The state organised attacks in November of 1938 against Jewish businesses, synagogues and apartments across Germany and Austria. The Jews were then forced to pay fines of over one billion German marks. The following week, Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend public schools. Movement restrictions occurred just one week later...does any of this sound familiar???
In 1939, Germany invades Poland and WWII began. The Jews in Poland began to experience the dehumanisation tactics that the German Jews had been going through for years. For children 10 and over, they were forced to where a yellow star or armband identifying them as Jewish. By May 1940, Auschwitz had opened in occupied Poland and 1 MILLION Jews were murdered. Then came the "Mobile Killing Units" that massacred another 1 MILLION Jews.
What I have a hard time wrapping my little brain around is the complicit Germans who followed their orders. What strategies created such a nation? I had a precious elderly German neighbour in my 30s who I enjoyed helping walk across the cobblestone lane to her door. With hearing difficulties, I got to enjoy listening to all the musicals she would watch on repeat, such as Sister Act, as the music travelled through the apartment complex. I found it fascinating that she also believed to her core that the Holocaust never even occurred! I had heard that they convinced people of this, however, I had never witnessed it with my own eyes until that moment.
The strategy of creating a race that would kill their own was nothing short of genius. Unfortunate genius, but genius none the less. Messaging was everywhere. In schools, books, music, theatre, posters, speeches, it slowly infiltrated every part of German culture. The government exalted their race as Aryan...a word that initially described people who spoke a variety of related languages to shifting in the late 19th century, into a mythical superior race. Everyone else, the Jews, the blacks, gypsies, etc. were all denigrated to the point they were no longer seen as human.
Years ago, I walked through the empty rooms of a former prison camp in Belgium. The smell of death still clung in the air, even after sixty years. I've been to the Holocaust museum in Washington DC and seen the shoes.. the hair... the photos. I was 18 years old. 32 years have passed and I will never be able to erase those images from my mind, nor do I want to...I want to honour their lives through living my own...fully. Experiences such as this made me wonder...what would I have done if I had lived through that era? Would I have be led like a sheep to the slaughterhouse? Would I have rolled up my sleeves to fight or allow the propaganda to flood my bloodstream?
I have no idea. All I have is this moment. This breath. I inhale peace, love and wisdom. I exhale all anger, fear, and confusion. Thank you for taking a moment to read this...go inward. Listen to your gut, it is far more accurate than your five senses. Quiet your soul. We are one. We are one consciousness.
Love to you all. We are stronger together...xx