When we thing of people who were heroes for the Jewish people during World War II, we seldom think of true enemies of the Allied Nations. Still, there are people in all nations, no matter how evil the nation, who are good. One such man was Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who served as vice-consul for the Japanese Empire in Kaunas, Lithuania. Sugihara was born on January 1, 1900 in Mino, Gifu prefecture, to a middle-class father, Yoshimi Sugihara and an upper-middle class mother, Yatsu Sugihara.
Sugihara became the vice-consul in 1939. His duties included reporting on Soviet and German troop movements, and to find out if Germany planned an attack on the Soviets and, if so, to report the details of this attack to his superiors in Berlin and Tokyo. As vice-consul, I’m sure he never expected to go against the orders of his superiors. I’m sure that he thought, as most of us do, that our country is the best one, and that our government is honorable and basically good…until we don’t. During the second world war, Sugihara made the decision…against orders from superiors…to help 6,000 Jews escape Europe by issuing transit visas to them, so that they could travel through Japanese territory. By doing this, he was risking his job and the lives of his family, but he knew that the things that were happening to the Jews were wrong, and he could not stand by and be a party to their deaths. The Jews that Sugihara helped were refugees from German-occupied Western Poland and Soviet-occupied Eastern Poland, as well as residents of Lithuania. I’m sure that Sugihara’s superiors didn’t want to anger their ally, Adolf Hitler, so they had told Sugihara to turn a blind eye to the fate of the Jewish people, and let the Nazis do what they wanted to do to them. But, Sugihara had a conscience, and he could not allow he Jews to be murdered in such a horrific fashion. He had to help as many as he could.
From July 18 to August 28, 1940, Sugihara being aware that Jewish visa applicants were in danger if they stayed behind, Sugihara decided to ignore his orders and issued ten-day visas to Jews for transit through Japan. Given his inferior post and the culture of the Japanese Foreign Service bureaucracy, this was an unusual act of disobedience. Sugihara spoke to Soviet officials who agreed to let the Jews travel through the country via the Trans-Siberian Railway…at five times the standard ticket price, of course. I guess there is no price too high…seriously. Sugihara continued to spend 18 to 20 hours a day writing hand-write visas, reportedly producing a normal month’s worth of visas each day, until September 4th, when he had to leave his post before the consulate was closed. While his time was cut short at that consulate, he had granted thousands of visas to Jews, many of whom were heads of households, thus permitting them to take their families with them. It is said that before he left, he handed the official consulate stamp to a refugee so that more visas could be forged, but his son, Nobuki Sugihara, insists that his father never gave the stamp to anyone. According to witnesses, he was still writing visas while in transit from his hotel and after boarding the train at the Kaunas Railway Station, throwing visas into the crowd of desperate refugees out of the train’s window even as the train pulled out. It was an insanely brave act, and it did not go unnoticed.
In 1985, the State of Israel honored Sugihara as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for his actions…the highest honor given to non-Jews.. He is the only Japanese national ever to receive it. The year 2020 was “The Year of Chiune Sugihara” in Lithuania. It has been estimated as many as 100,000 people alive today are the descendants of the recipients of Sugihara visas. When asked by Moshe Zupnik why he risked his career to save other people, he said simply, “I do it just because I have pity on the people. They want to get out so I let them have the visas.”
Chiune Sugihara died at a hospital in Kamakura, on July 31, 1986. Despite the publicity given him in Israel and other nations, Sugihara remained virtually unknown in his home country. I’m sure they didn’t consider him anything more than a criminal. Only when a large Jewish delegation from around the world, including the Israeli ambassador to Japan, attended his funeral, did his neighbors find out what he had done. His subsequent considerable posthumous acclaim contrasts with the obscurity in which he lived following the loss of his diplomatic career.
I read a book the other day, called “The Librarian of Auschwitz.” It is a true story about a woman named Dita Polachova , who at the age of 14 years was imprisoned at Auschwitz. I was moved by the sacrifices the people in her network made, as well as the many people I have read about in the past. We, in America, don’t often understand the need to sacrifice our own safety, and many people wouldn’t do it even if it was necessary. Dita was one of those people who would.
She was in charge of eight books that someone had smuggled into Auschwitz, the first sacrifice. It was something that could have cost the smuggler his life, but he saw value in the ability to get the books into the hands of the family camp, and the children’s school at Auschwitz. The family camp, and the coordinated children’s school was unique to Auschwitz. Most camps did not allow families to stay together. In fact, most of the children were killed upon arrival at the camps. The family camp and the children’s school were the brainstorm sacrifice Freddy Hirsch, who was a Jewish athlete, one of the great runners. He was almost impossible to beat. I don’t know if that was what gave him some pull or not, but he made a sacrifice that turned out to be the ultimate sacrifice. Fredy Hirsch would not survive Auschwitz. It wasn’t because the books were found, but rather that the Nazis were taking away the family camp and children’s school. He took his own life. He assumed that the precious books would be lost, but he had underestimated Dita, who managed to get the books back in their hiding place, where they were not found by the Nazis.
Dita outlived the Nazi reign of terror and went on to lead a happy life, despite the memories that would haunt her for the rest of her life. She married Arvid Harnack, an author, who with the writer Adam Kuckhoff and his wife Greta, who with Mildred Fish-Harnack brought together a discussion circle which debated political perspectives on the time after the National Socialists’ expected downfall or overthrow. From these meetings arose what the Gestapo called the Red Orchestra resistance group.
The Red Orchestra, Die Rote Kapelle in German, or the Red Chapel as it was known in Germany, was the name given by the Gestapo to anti-Nazi resistance workers during World War II. The members included friends of Harro Schulze-Boysen and Arvid Harnack in Berlin, as well as groups working independently of these intelligence groups, working in Paris and Brussels, that were built up on behalf of Leopold Trepper on behalf of the Soviet Main Directorate of State Security. The Red Orchestra was neither directed by Soviet communists nor under a single leadership but a network of groups and individuals, often operating independently contrary to legend. About 400 members are known by name at this time. They printed illegal leaflets hoping to incite civil disobedience, helped Jews and opposition escape the regime, documented the crimes of the Nazi regime, and forwarded military intelligence to the Allies. The public perception of the “Red Orchestra” is characterized by the transfigurations of the post-war years and the Cold War.
The network of people willing to risk their own lives during the Holocaust years was extensive. From Jews who risked their lives to make life better in and out of the camps, to non-Jews who risked their lives to fight against the atrocities of the Nazi Regime and the Third Reich. These were brave people who knew that bravery isn’t about being fearless, but rather being brave despite the fear. Their stories deserve to be told. They deserve recognition, because in the face of the worst odds, they took action anyway. That is true bravery, and true sacrifice.
Most people would not think that the things Dr Gisella Perl did at Auschwitz during the Holocaust were angelic in any way, but the prisoners there, the women whose lives she saved would say otherwise. To them, she was an angel of mercy…even if some of the things she had to do were so horrific that she tried to commit suicide after the war. Dr Perl was a successful Jewish gynecologist from Romania, where she lived with her husband and two children. Right before the Nazi soldiers stormed her home, she was able to hid her daughter with some non-Jews, but she, her husband, son, her elderly parents who captured and taken to Auschwitz. Once they arrived, Gisella was separated from her family. They would be sent to be slave labor or to be killed. She would never see any of them again. Because she was a doctor, she was to be used in a different way…a horrifically gruesome way. She was to work for Dr Joseph Mengele, to be at his beck and call, and the things he made her do nearly killed her. She was a doctor. She was supposed to save lives, not be involved in ending them…or worse, but that was the position he put her in.
First, he told her to round up any pregnant women. She thought she was going to be caring for these women, but after she turned over 50 women, and they were immediately sent to the gas chambers, a horrified Dr Perl made up her mind that somehow, she would do whatever she could to thwart the Nazis horrible plans. She had not understood what was goin to happen to the pregnant women she turned over, and the thought of her part in their loss of live, nearly killed her. The things she did after that first horrible mistake, might not seem to most people, including me, like the actions of an angel, but I can see that she had no real choices.
The women Dr Perl cared for had been treated horrible by the Nazi soldiers. Their wounds consisted of lashes from a whip on bare skin, to bites from dogs, to infections from the horribly unsanitary conditions. When she entered the room, the prisoners in the infirmary knew that she was there to help. That was the good part of her life at Auschwitz, but Dr Mengele was a cruel and evil man, and he was determined to kill any pregnant woman. This left Dr Perl with an extremely difficult decision to make. She could watch as the mother and baby were put to death, or she could abort the babies and give the mothers the chance to live to have a family later. The choice was unthinkable to her, but it was also a non-choice. She could lose one life or both. The abortions were performed in secret, often in darkness, and the women whose lives she saved…well, they were grateful, even though they mourned their babies and never truly got over the decisions they and Dr Perl made. Later in life, after the war, Dr Perl went on to deliver many live babies, rejoicing over each. She was bold with God, telling him, when a baby seemed unlikely to make it, that God owed her this baby, because of those she could not save in the Holocaust. God honored her prayers, and gave her the healthy babies she requested of Him. I think He considered her the Angel of Auschwitz too.
Born Jewish, on April 4, 1922, in Berlin, Germany, did not necessarily set Marie Jalowicz up for a long carefree life. Marie was 11 years old when the Nazi Party came to power, and soon after began to imprison her family members. By age 20, Marie was forced to fend for herself. She found herself faced with the difficult task of constantly avoiding the Nazis. For Marie, this meant somehow assimilating into German life…basically pretending to be a non-Jew. I can’t imagine having to pretend to be a nationality other than my own, but that is what she had to do. Anything about her that was Jewish had to be set aside, forgotten, or hidden from the eyes and ears of the Nazis, who seemed to be everywhere around her.
Marie knew that as the situation for Jews in Nazi Germany deteriorated, things would grow steadily worse for her. She had to somehow come up with a way to virtually hide in plain sight. When a postman wrongly delivered a letter for a job offer intended for the neighbor in 1941, she told a postman that her “neighbor” Marie was taken by the Nazis, then she simply started walking around without a star on her jacket. She was successfully living under a false identity. She took the job and began working at the Siemens arms factory in her neighbor’s place. While living this double life, Jalowicz sabotaged production at the arms factory where she worked. Marie evaded Nazi capture through a long string of forgeries, impersonations, and help from people from every walk of life. Marie became Johanna Koch, using her wit and charm to seduce people in positions that could help her and moved around constantly. She took the words of a friend of hers to heart, “In absurd times, everything is absurd. You can save yourselves only by absurd means since the Nazis are out to murder us all.” On more than one occasion she tried to flee Germany, narrowly evading apprehension and escaping back to her homeland each time. She relocated often, and at one point was sold to an abusive Nazi with late-stage syphilis for 15 marks, which added to her cover as a non-Jew. In the coming years, she took menial jobs and lived in several Berlin flats, at times with roommates who were fervent Nazis. I can’t imagine how awful it was for her.
Marie went on to become a German philologist and historian of philosophy, pursued a career in academia, and received a Ph.D. in ancient literature and art history at Berlin’s Humboldt University. Then, after the war, she become a professor at Humboldt University, where she worked until her death in 1998. Just before her death she recorded 77 cassette tapes of audio with her son, Hermann. In the tapes, for the first time, Marie chronicled her experience during the Nazi reign. They were later compiled into a book called, Underground in Berlin: A Young Woman’s Extraordinary Tale of Survival in the Heart of Nazi Germany. She became known to larger audiences for this, her autobiographical account of the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany, which was published posthumously. Marie died on September 16, 1998. She returned to her original identity only on her deathbed. Her mother died of cancer in 1938. Her father died in 1941. She is survived by her only son, Hermann Simon.
When most people hear the word Nazi, they don’t associate it with anything good. I don’t even think the Nazis of today consider themselves to be an organization for good. Probably the most atrocious part of Nazi Germany was the death camps where the Jewish people were confined, tortured with experimentation, and gassed to their deaths. One such camp, Auschwitz was known for cruelty so egregious that in 1947, after the war was over, a Polish court convened a special tribunal to mete out justice to 40 former Auschwitz personnel.
The German invasion of Poland in September 1939, sparked World War II, and the Germans immediately converted Auschwitz I, a former army barracks, to hold Polish political prisoners. The first prisoners, German criminals brought to the camp as functionaries, arrived in May 1940, and the first gassing of prisoners took place in block 11 of Auschwitz I in September 1941. Auschwitz II–Birkenau went on to become a major site of the Nazis’ “Final Solution” to the Jewish Question…basically Hitler’s hatred of the Jewish people. Transport trains delivered Jews from all over German-occupied Europe to the camp’s gas chambers from early 1942 until late 1944. Of the estimated 1.3 million people sent to Auschwitz, at least 1.1 million died, approximately 90% of them Jews. It is thoughts that one in six Jews killed in the Holocaust died at Auschwitz. Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 non-Jewish Poles, 23,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses, tens of thousands of others of diverse nationalities, and an unknown number of gay men. Many of those not killed in the gas chambers died because of starvation, forced labor, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments.
The appalling conduct of the Nazi staff at Auschwitz is among the worst treatment of prisoners in human history. In fact, the cruelty routinely perpetrated was so horrific that, in 1947, a Polish court convened a special tribunal to finally deal out justice to 40 former Auschwitz personnel. Of the defendants, 21 were condemned and executed, 18 were convicted and given jail sentences, but one man, Dr Hans Munch, was acquitted. That one acquittal might have been considered an outrage to the world, were it not for the testimony of former prisoners. The former prisoners testified that Munch had been kind and humane. The said that he gave them food and extended bogus experiments on female prisoners because he knew they would be gassed once the experiments were concluded. Most impressive, Munch refused to participate in the selection process dictating who lived or died at Auschwitz. That in and of itself could have brought about his own death. In the final days of the war, his last official act at a concentration camp was to advise an inmate on how to escape, wish him good luck, and hand the prisoner his service revolver.
Sadly, in later life, Munch was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, ignited a controversy later in his life with bizarre interviews about his tenure at Auschwitz. He got quite mixed up about what went on there, and in my opinion, it is a good thing that the prisoners stood up for this one good Nazi, who wasn’t really a Nazi after all.
On January 30, 1933, President Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler chancellor of Germany. It wasn’t because of any election, but rather by a constitutionally questionable deal dreamed up by a small group of conservative German politicians who had given up on parliamentary rule. Little did they know that they were party to appointing one of the worst dictators in history. Their attempt to return Germany to conservative authoritarian rule, backfired miserably when, within two years, Hitler and the Nazis outmaneuvered Germany’s conservative politicians to consolidate a radical Nazi dictatorship that was completely subordinate to Hitler’s personal will. I wonder if President Hindenburg wished he had never met Hitler, much less appointed him to be chancellor.
Within days of taking power, the Nazis called for Germany to boycott all Jewish businesses. This unexpected anti-Jewish propaganda was the first of many. Hitler hated the Jewish people. He had no reason for his hatred. The Jewish people had done nothing to warrant Hitler’s hatred and rage. One theory is that Hitler had decided that the Jewish people were an inferior race. That is not such a new thought. It had happened before, to the African slaves in history, who had often been referred to as mud people. The Jews, as with the slaves, were treated horribly.
Another reason Hitler hated the Jewish people, was because following Germany’s loss of World War I, Hitler blamed the Jews and the communists living in Germany. He felt that they were part of a huge conspiracy against the German military. He believed that had it not been for their interference, Britain and the allies would have lost the war. Another possible reason for Hitler’s hatred of the Jews was probably jealousy. After World War I, he saw that a lot of Germans were without jobs and struggling. Instead of looking at the war as the root cause of the economic problem, he blamed the Jews for the sorry state of affairs. Because Adolf Hitler was truly insane, I’m sure that his reason to hate the Jewish people made sense to him, but the reality is that his insane mind was the only place that it made sense.
I’m not sure how he managed to get so many people to agree with is ideas, but somehow he did, and when he decided that all Jewish shops were to be boycotted, and stationed his SA Storm Troopers near the shops to
ensure that his plans were carried out, they did as they were told. It wasn’t long after the boycotting of the shops that Hitler took things to the next level, and began hauling the Jewish people to the death camps. As long as he was alive, there was no end to his hatred, and that is definitely not what President Hindenburg or the conservative German politicians had in mind, and I’m sure they wished they had never done it.
For many years, I have admired Albert Einstein. His mind and his level of intelligence intrigued me, as did his quirkiness. When you think of a genius, your mind automatically produces a picture of a very organized person, who is able to handle any situation, but even geniuses have their issues with things. One well know “weakness” for Einstein was the fact that if something can be written down, it need not take up space in his brain. His brain was very full after all, and clutter was always an issue. That said, if he couldn’t find his train ticket…for the train he took every day from home to work and back…he didn’t know at which stop to get off, because he relied on his ticket to tell him that. I don’t think most of us could even begin to filter our brain in such a way…but Einstein could, and did.
Einstein was a gifted scientist and mathematician. He was most famous for his theory of relativity and the resulting formula relating mass and energy…E = MC². He was the winner of 1921 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the photoelectric effect, which is also known as the Hertz effect. Einstein was born in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire, on March 14, 1879. His parents were Hermann Einstein, a salesman and engineer, and Pauline Koch. He didn’t feel the need to celebrate his birthday,saying “It is a known fact that I was born, and that is all that is necessary.” Friends, colleagues and complete strangers still felt the need to send telegrams, cards, letters, gifts, and an elaborate birthday cake.
Being a Jewish man, circumstances in Germany became life threatening for Einstein in the early 1930s, so early in 1933, while on a trip to the United States, he knew he could not go home again, so he moved permanently to the United States, and worked at Princeton University…a career that would take him to the end of his life on April 18, 1955. Einstein could have been saved, but when he was asked if he wanted to undergo surgery, he refused, saying, “I want to go when I want to go. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share; it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.” After an autopsy, Einstein’s body was cremated and his ashes spread in an undisclosed location.
After his passing, another of the multiple quirky aspects of Einstein’s personality came to light when LIFE magazine wrote about a famous picture taken in Albert Einstein’s Princeton office. Einstein’s desk was just as he left it. Here, the picture says, is where Einstein worked, dreamed, lived his singular, principled life to its fullest. “When I was young, all I wanted and expected from life was to sit quietly in some corner doing my work without the public paying attention to me,” said Einstein after being honored at a social function. “And now see what has become of me.”
When I look and Einstein’s desk, it takes me back to the many times my own desk has looked exactly like that. It is another way that the famed scientific and mathematical genius and I are alike. Now, I do not claim to have the IQ of this man, but we do have a few things in common, and the ability to work on top of a stack of papers seems to be one of them. Maybe that and the ability to somewhat filter things out of my mind if they are stored in my phone which could be the same thing as filtering because I have it written down. And because of my shy side, I suppose I can understand his concern over public attention, and yet knowing that sometimes it can’t be helped. When I look at his desk, I can see a man whose mind was fill with many thoughts, making it easy to lose himself in his thoughts to the point of seeming to ignore those around him. Those who met Einstein recalled his human side. He “walked to work or rode the bus in bad weather; visited the neighbors’ newborn kittens; greeted carolers on winter nights; refused to update his eyeglass prescription; and declined to wear socks because they would get holes in them. But he didn’t seem to mind fuzzy slippers!” He was his own man with his own ideas, and if those ideas didn’t make sense to those around him, it was simply not his problem. On April 18, 1955, Albert Einstein died soon after a blood vessel burst near his heart. The world mourned Einstein’s death, but true to form, at his request, his office and house were not turned into memorials.
Yesterday, I had the unique opportunity to listen to a Holocaust survivor speak at a seminar. Her name was Inge Auerbacher, and she was an amazing woman. Inge was the last Jewish child born in Kippenheim, a village in South Western Germany located at the foot of the Black Forest. She was the only child of Berthold (1898–1987) and Regina Auerbacher (née Lauchheimer, 1905–1996). Both of her parents came from observant Jewish families who had lived for many generations in Germany. Her father proudly served in the German army, but when the Nazis came for them, his loyal service meant nothing to them. They were Jewish, and that fact condemned them to the concentration camps. Loyal service could not compensate for Hitler’s crazed hatred of the Jewish people.
Inge had barely started school when her family as deported to Czechoslovakia and sentenced to the Terezin camp. When she and her parents went in, Inge was seven years old when she went into Terezin. She would be there for three years. I will not say she called it home for three years, because it was definitely not a home. Inge tells of the companions she always knew would be there…the rats, mice, fleas, and bed bugs. The prisoners were allowed two showers a year…yes, I said a year. No wonder those companions hung around. Another occasional companion was lice which meant shaved heads to make removal easier. All of this was horrible, but it was the least of the nightmare. The guards gave brutal beatings…especially the women guards. The scientists performed experiments on the people, and they were given very little to eat. They were doing everything they could to kill their prisoners. Nevertheless, it was all too slow for Hitler.
A total of 140,000 people were shipped to Theresienstadt concentration camp near Terezin; 88,000 were sent primarily to the gas chambers in Auschwitz, and 35,000 died of malnutrition and disease in Terezin. Of the 15,000 children imprisoned in Terezin, Inge and her parents were among the 1% that survived. Her childhood friends, especially her best friend, Ruth lost her life at Auschwitz. Ruth’s father was half Christian and half Jewish. She was raised Christian, but it didn’t make a difference. She and her family were executed for their Jewish heritage. Poor Ruth was deported to Auschwitz in one of the last transports. Ruth and the other children marched with their parents to their final destination, not knowing what was to come. They were told they were going to the showers, but it was the gas chambers, and their parents would not tell them otherwise. It would have been far too cruel. For me, the picture that Inge found years later, of Ruth as a little girl, has stayed vividly in my mind. She was a sweet, innocent little girl, who had done nothing wrong, but her life was taken away from her because she was pat Jewish…because Hitler hated the Jewish people. Hate…an ugly word. Inge says that this type of treatment happens when people lose their humanity. She would tell you, “Never lose your humanity.”
Many people think of Kindergarten as almost a play date. They think of a classroom filled with toys, books, and craft supplies, as well as a playground for recess. Many people think of it as a daycare for working parents, and of course, a place for early childhood development. All these are good things, but this was not the original plan for the creator of Kindergarten, German born Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel. He wanted it to be a place that was both ‘a garden for children’, where children meet with environment and also ‘a garden of children’, where they play together and express themselves in a smaller garden world by means of play with their age group. He believed that “children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers.”
I’m sure this sounds odd to most of us, but when you look at his background, I think you will understand why he felt the way he did. Fröbel had an unhappy childhood with a severe step-mother. He was abandoned and treated in a strict fashion as a child. He got to know what happiness was, when he was living with his uncle’s family while studying at high school. He had a huge desire for education, strong Christian faith and love of nature. He studied mineralogy in Jena, Germany and architecture at the Berlin’s Humboldt University. Inborn skills of an educator helped Fröbel to realize the failure of teaching system because of its incompleteness and the failure to include the outside world in the educational process. The first kindergarten was established by Fröbel in Bad Blankenburg in 1837. He renamed his Play and Activity Institute to a ‘kindergarten’ two years later in 1840. That Bad Blankenburg Infant school used play, games, songs, stories, and crafts to encourage children’s imagination and broaden their physical and motor skills. “Kommt, lasst uns unsern Kindern leben” Come, let us live with our children’ turned into the catchphrase of the early childhood education.
Friedrich Fröbel also used studying and nurturing plants in a garden for stimulating children’s interest in the natural world. In reality, we can trace the similarities to the Montessori school system and the Pestalozzian consideration of importance to grow up in harmony with nature. Fröbel paid much attention to preparing for further school education by training the children through the complimentary self expression, creativeness, collective involvement, and motor activity. He considered training of all the vivid faculties: artistic, imaginative, linguistic, arithmetical, musical, aesthetic, scientific, physical, social, moral, cultural, and spiritual, complete growth and harmonious development to be even more important than any kind of knowledge. Fröbel’s kindergarten system flourished globally. Most kindergartens were organized for children of all social classes, ethnic groups and religious believes, Jewish as well as Christian. Fröbel’s vision of kindergarten seems to be so familiar and proper, however it was a fresh and revolutionary look on early childhood education in his time.
When we think of the horrors of the Holocaust, we think of millions of Jewish people who were murdered because they were Jewish. The horrible things Hitler did are so awful, that most of us can hardly bare to think about it at all. It is uncertain just when the Holocaust began, but the accepted date is January 30, 1933. That date is when Adolf Hitler was appointed German chancellor, setting in motion what would become the Nazi genocide against the Jews. On September 15, 1935, the Nuremberg Laws were enacted. The Nuremberg Laws were anti-Jewish statutes enacted by Germany, that were a major step in clarifying racial policy and removing Jewish influences from Aryan society. These laws, were the foundation on which the rest of Nazi racial policy hung.
The Jewish people were not the only group of people who came to the attention of Hitler’s insane mind either. Under the rule of Adolf Hitler, a supplementary decree to the Nuremberg Laws was issued on November 26, 1935, defining Gypsies as “enemies of the race-based state”, the same category as Jews. The Nuremberg racial laws of September 15, 1935, “Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor” and “Reich Citizenship Law” did not explicitly mention Gypsies, but in commentaries interpreting these laws, “Gypsies were included, along with Jews and Negros, as racially distinctive minorities with alien blood. As such, their marriage to Aryans was prohibited.” Like the Jews, the Gypsies were also deprived of their civil rights. Hitler viewed Jews and Gypsies as a defective race, in fact he viewed all non-white people as defective. I suppose this view was what originally justified Hitler’s brutal murder of 6 million Jews and who knows how many people of other races. On this day, November 15, 1943, Heinrich Himmler, who was the Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (Protection Squadron, or SS), and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Nazi Germany ordered that Gypsies and those of mixed Gypsy blood are to be put on “the same level as Jews and placed in concentration camps.”
Hitler’s decision to include the Gypsies, and the ensuing murders of up to 500,000 Romani Gypsies, became known as the Romani Holocaust, or Porajmos, which means cutting, fragmentation, or destruction; or Samudaripen, which means mass killing. It was Nazi Germany and its allies planned and attempted effort to exterminate the Romani Gypsy people of Europe. Some historians put the death toll as high as 1.5 million. In 1982, West Germany formally recognized that genocide had been committed against the Romani. In 2011 the Polish Government passed a resolution for the official recognition of August 2nd as a day of commemoration of the genocide. As I was researching this horrific genocide, I began to wonder how it was that I had never heard about it before. Was I living under a rock? In reality, I doubt if it was in any of the history books of my time, because no one admitted that it happened until 1982, at the earliest.