A couple of days ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger posted a video in which he said, “Wednesday was the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States.” For four years, we have been told that likening Trump to Hitler cheapened what happened to the Jews and others. As the descendant, on both sides of my family, of those who were murdered by the Nazis, I finally feel emboldened to say what I have been feeling since November 8, 2016, that it is our turning away from those parallels that increases the danger for us all.

Federal prosecutors weighing sedition charges in Capitol riot; FBI issued warning that extremists were preparing for ‘war,’ report says—Orlando Sentinel

McConnell Privately Backs Impeachment as House Moves to Charge Trump—The New York Times

U.S. Supreme Court revives bar on abortion pill mail delivery in pandemic—Reuters

January 12, 2021

Honoring my grandparents
by Ruth Neuwald Falcon, Seattle, Washington

I shared Schwarzenegger’s video on my Facebook page. A friend from forty years ago posted a response: Disgusting Kraut minimizing the actual Nazi terror! This old friend has, over the years, become so right wing that I can’t bear to look at his Facebook page. But he is highly intelligent and knew my family and their history. I thought it worth a try to reach him. I wrote back: I don’t hear that Schwarzenegger is minimizing the Nazi terror. Quite the contrary.

It is interesting that it is the far right that is claiming the high ground about how we are supposed to remember. My friend went on to say, If we are to “never forget” the Nazis, it’s essential to stop abusing the term to characterize present enemies.

“Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president,” wrote Timothy Snyder in The New York Times Magazine this weekend. Snyder continues:

These last four years, scholars have discussed the legitimacy and value of invoking fascism in reference to Trumpian propaganda. One comfortable position has been to label any such effort as a direct comparison and then to treat such comparisons as taboo. My own view is that greater knowledge of the past, fascist or otherwise, allows us to notice and conceptualize elements of the present that we might otherwise disregard and to think more broadly about future possibilities.

My parents’ deaths bookend the holidays, followed ten days later by the anniversary of the day my grandparents, Erich and Marta Stier, were deported from Berlin to Auschwitz. I don’t know the date of their deaths, the meticulous German records having somehow missed that detail, so January 12 is the date I observe their Yahrzeits. It seems a fitting day for me to acknowledge what I have been feeling in my bones for the past four years. By doing so, I am fully honoring my grandparents.

Marta and Erich Stier

8 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness, how much has changed in a matter of days…Or should I not be so surprised because it’s been coming on over these last more than four years actually. I saw Arnold’s video and was deeply moved by this honest, painful account. What I have not understood is why Tim Snyder referred to ‘pre-fascism’…pre to???
    You have honored your ancestors with the love and connection that has always been palpable. Sending you virtual hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As painful as your words are to write and to read, it is so important that we recognize where we are. And admit that many saw this coming and were afraid to speak and unclear about what could be done. I hope there will be learning and healing, but not before there is accountability. Thank you for sharing your family’s story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ruth, your life and presence in this world honors your dear grandparents Marta and Erich Stier. Thank you for sharing their story and photo here. Sending you so much love and light and hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Ruth. I, too lost family in a few different concentration camps. Fortunately, my immediate family made it out in time, or I wouldn’t be in this body or this life, to write this. I’m told that one of my mother’s cousins had to play the violin as the rest of the Jews walked towards the ovens. I can no longer fathom how any people tolerate what they do, in bowing to Trump’s words and deeds. I listen to the news and all the right wingers know how to do is yell, speak untruths and then have no answer when confronted other than to yell some more. I can only hope that after 1/20/21 that we START to see some semblance of… I was going to write “normalcy”, but that doesn’t work right now.. anyway, some kind of order come into being, so that we can start to exhale.

    Liked by 1 person

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