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.
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.