Letters to the Editor: It happened in Germany in the 1930s, and it’s happening in America now
To the editor: My brother and I are the children of Holocaust survivors from Poland. Our mother was the only one in her entire family to survive World War II. (“I thought I’d escaped Germany’s dark history. The Capitol attack reminded me I was wrong,” Opinion, Jan. 10.)
Our father, who lost his parents in the war as well, volunteered in the U.S. Army as a physician. My parents were both proud to be Americans.
As survivors — and never “victims,” as my mother said — we were always “on guard” to watch for anti-Semitic remarks, and whenever there were reports of Jews being harassed or hurt, we were made aware that “it” could always happen again.
My parents were not alive to see the brutal attack on our democracy last week. To have watched as the Capitol came under attack was a reminder that “it” was happening again.
Professor Martin Puchner’s heartfelt, powerful piece on his German grandfather’s anti-Semitic writings and Nazi activism prior to the war was so important. The world has now witnessed the horrific and stunningly frightening images and sounds of hate in our country.
The warning “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” is most pertinent for these dark days, and we need to heed the warnings.
Mona Shafer Edwards, Los Angeles
To the editor: Puchner is well-intentioned, but he accidentally revealed subtle remnants of his native country’s deeply embedded prejudice and guilt.
He states that his grandfather used names “to distinguish Jews from Germans, or so he claimed.” The implication is that being Jewish excluded one from German nationality, a fundamental falsehood used to discriminate against Jews to this day worldwide. Jews have resided for generations as citizens of many countries.
Puchner also implies that his grandfather possibly wouldn’t have aided the Nazis if he had the “benefit of hindsight,” that he acted on his own “prejudices and weaknesses,” as if that somehow excuses his complicity in the murder of millions of innocent citizens.
No, hindsight will not excuse the evil, amoral, undemocratic actions perpetrated on our nation in recent days. The guilt, the crime and punishment should be recognized, called out and dealt with now.
Nancy Flesh Brundige, Los Angeles
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