Change followed change and the noose tightened as Hitler ascended to assume absolute, authoritarian power. Yet, most people continued to come and go about their daily lives without too much concern. There was plenty of good food to eat … the economy was holding strong … citizens enjoyed the restaurants, culture, and joie-de-vivre, despite the emerging Nazi fascination.
Some, however, didn’t.
They worried that their places of worship were defaced, desecrated and destroyed. No question that they were treated as second-class citizens, forced to be stitched with yellow Jewish stars and wretched pink triangles proclaiming their differences, even amidst the seeming diversity. Ugly names and epithets were hurled at them by hateful naysayers, as they watched their places of worship, their businesses, their homes, their friends, and even their families taken away.
“Don’t you think it best if we made plans to leave now, before it’s too late?” neighbor asked neighbor in the ghettos that their communities had become. “No, no, no. Shhhhhhhhhh! Don’t worry,” too often came the response. “This shall pass. He’s just a flash in the pan, stirring up trouble among those who will listen. But this is a great country of good, Christian people! Just wait and see: things will turn around.”
So they waited. And lost more of their freedoms, their possessions, their loved ones and neighbors.
It was said that people disappeared in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. Passports, visas, and exit letters were denied. Worse, unless one had special connections – and money – the chances of being allowed to leave the country were growing slimmer every day.
How many people did you and your family lose in the Holocaust?
How many people will we ultimately lose this time?
(Rev.) Bruce H. Joffe, Ph.D.
Sturgeon Bay, Wis.