While the Red Army was liberating the prisoners held at the Auschwitz death camp, my uncle was part of the teams that liberated other Nazi concentration camps. The sights and memories haunted him the rest of his life. He shared many of his memories with my father who served in the Pacific theater at the same time. The world looks on as survivors of the death camp returns for the 70th year anniversary of being freed. The whole idea of Auschwitz baffles the mind. No one will ever fully understand the how’s and why’s of the atrocities forced upon innocent men, women and children by the Nazis.
It is hard to remember how not all Germans were Nazis. But it is also hard to understand how the Nazi machine was allowed to form and become the evil that the name itself represents. What went wrong in the typical political processes of Germany? How was Adolf Hitler legally elected to office? How did any check and balance system within the government fail? Can it happen here in America? Auschwitz is a major wakeup call to all societies. It did not happen overnight. It did not happen all at once. But the question still remaining is ‘how did it happen at all’.
Germany was ripe for a hero or savior type person and personality. The economy was in deep trouble. The people needed relief. Hitler had all the right words. He had all the right persona. He knew how to manipulate people and their emotions so that they would increasingly trust him. But the question still remains; how was the machine that fed his limitless power able to be put into place. I know that there are many historians out there who can detail events regarding the Nazi takeover of Germany. But my questions rest with the individual German during this time. Could the people of Germany have stopped Hitler early before all the evils and the machines were in place?
There must never be a time when the people feel in such a need for a politician to rescue them. The people must never forget that THEY are in charge of the government. That is a nice idea but it is almost impossible to implement once a corrupt government official has been allowed to be put in place.
I believe there are more good people than bad. I believe that it is possible for people to reason and think. I also believe that these are dying ideas that must never be allowed to be extinguished. I also believe it is up to the people to keep our politician accountable. We do this by removing bad ones and electing responsible ones. We do this by legal civil protests that do not result in burning down a city. We do this by making sure dirty little secrets of people in power are brought to light so that nothing is allowed to fester and grow. We do this by not being silent. We do this by taking risks. We do this by making sure that light is shown in the dirty little corners of our politicians. We also do this by never fully trusting the politician apart from our control. Politics means power. Power corrupts. Power does not rest with the politician unless the people submit their power over to the politician. We must never become apathetic. Checks and balances are only too late if the people permit it.
Americans must be concerned about things in our present government. The IRS has too much power. They have the power to seize and remove anything and everything they deem necessary to ‘pay the tax’. This is far too reminiscent of King George and their ability to simply tax and take without regard for the people. Our Congress has become a cesspool of people not listening to those who elected them and many who appear to not have enough sense to get out of the rain. Some of the statements which come out of the mouths of our elected officials baffle the mind. They cannot be that stupid. But they keep getting re-elected. They fight over the most ridiculous items such as the type of cutlery to be used in the cafeteria but do not really do any business to advance the nation or the people. They forget the nation and live for their party.
If the political officers which are elected to promote the country and the Constitution which protects the nation do not act in accordance with the Constitution it is up to the people to no follow those rules or laws. If the federal government fails then it is up to the local governments to follow the proper rule of law. Government edicts are only as powerful as the people allow them power. State government and law enforcement must decide if they are going to enforce the federal government or the Constitution of the United States. There may come a time when a politician or law enforcement individual might have to decide between doing what they are told verses doing what is right.
Auschwitz happened. This is fact. But what is even more important than the fact that this happened is the demand that this never happen again. Auschwitz was allowed to happen. Not that anyone could have stopped the building of Auschwitz but at one time something could have been done to have prevented Auschwitz. The German people were no different than the American people today. If it was able to happen once it could happen again. The change in values and priorities did not happen overnight for Germany. It was slow and insidious. Are we as Americans on the same road as Auschwitz?