Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Not Mentioned in History Class - Pt. I

The Nazi campaign against the Jews was a German idea, true?  Not exactly.
In the decades before the holocaust, distrust of Jews and attacks against them increased ... in America and elsewhere in the world.
The International Jew is a four volume set of booklets published and distributed in the early 1920s by Henry Ford, the American industrialist and automobile manufacturer.
In 1920, Ford had his personal newspaper The Dearborn Independent report on what he considered to be the "Jewish menace". Every week for 91 issues, the paper published some supposedly Jewish-inspired evil in a headline. The most popular and aggressive stories were reprinted in four volumes called The International Jew.  
The first volume of the series is titled The International Jew, The World's Foremost Problem.  Hitler had a copy in his personal library. 

At a ceremony in Dearborn, Michigan, Henry Ford was presented with the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle, an honor created in 1937 by Adolf Hitler. This high honor represented Adolf Hitler’s personal admiration and indebtedness to Henry Ford. 

After the war at the Nuremberg Trials, Nazi youth leader Baldur von Schirach tells how The International Jew had made a deep impression on him and his friends in their youth and influenced them in becoming antisemitic. He said: "... we saw in Henry Ford the representative of success, also the exponent of a progressive social policy. In the poverty-stricken and wretched Germany of the time, youth looked toward America, and apart from the great benefactor, Herbert Hoover, it was Henry Ford who to us represented America." 
Marianne Clemens in her Hitler Youth
uniform; she was automatically enrolled
in the Hitler Youth at the age of 10, and
drafted to work in munitions factories at
age 16.  She was told that concentration
camps were just prisons, and had no idea
of the truth. "We heard nothing from
the outside." Marianne says her eyes
were opened when the allied forces
arrived. "The Americans showed it
on their newsreels... and then we
saw … it was unbelievable."

Disappointing. The problem of prejudice is more broadly evident than in just one fanatical leader.  Wrong thinking, quickly stuffing others into a category, grouping all of them together and attributing the worst of traits and motives to all of them.
Among the surviving victims of such wickedness are those who were led down the pathway.  A moment's reflection unveils the horror of the Hitler Youth, the Hitlerjugend, the youth organization of the Nazi party in Germany.  
Beginning in Munich in 1922, children were recruited and taught the Nazi ideology. They were told it was true, right, and noble in every way. As young children are wont to do, they believed it all.  They didn't know.
Hitler Youth - precious children.
They didn't understand what
had been done to them.
Membership was compulsory nationwide after 1936, even if parents objected.  Parents were told their children would be taken away if they weren't allowed to join.  There were 8,000,000 members by 1940, perhaps 80-90% of the nation's youth. There were a few who privately disagreed with the Nazi ideology; some even managed to resist.  

For those responsible, it would be better for them to have a millstone tied to their neck and be dropped overboard than to lead a little one astray.  They were just children.
So then, Henry Ford and antisemitism in America were at least part of the problem, and the 8,000,000+ Hitler Youth were among the victims. I doubt we will hear much about such things in our history classes.
Ford, a great man in so many ways, is reported to have been shown newsreel footage of the Nazi concentration camps; when he "was confronted with the atrocities which finally and unanswerably laid bare the bestiality of the prejudice to which he contributed, he collapsed with a stroke – his last and most serious."*
... and Herbert Hoover was their great benefactor?
That will perhaps be our inquiry for Not Mentioned in History Class - Pt. II

*Robert Lacey,  Ford: The Men and the Machines