Who knew the innocence and fun of summer camp could be twisted into something dark, hateful and dangerous? Read on for the astounding and little-known story of how Nazis planted the seeds of white supremacy in America.
In the 1920s and 30s, German-Americans disaffected by WWI and the Great Depression found support in a group called the Friends of New Germany. Most all members were American citizens, but they pledged loyalty to Adolf Hitler. Members had to swear they were of pure Aryan blood with no Jewish ancestry. In 1936, a new group absorbed these people, the Amerikadeutscher Bund, commonly known as the Bund.
These organizations worked to preserve German Culture. As you will see, they had a much more potent agenda.
I had no understanding until recently of "barrage balloons" nor their importance in the success of the Normandy invasion.
And further, I had no idea of the crucial D-Day role played by black soldiers landing on Omaha Beach.
This bit of forgotten history was brought to my attention by long-time newsletter reader Norm Haskett. Norm is the creator of the incredible website The Daily Chronicles of WWII, possibly the most thorough collection of WWII information on the web.
Who better to fill in for me this week while I'm on vacation?
Coincidence, karma or miracle? This story will make you wonder. It begins in a small village near present-day Ukraine amid war crimes committed by the German Nazis. A time in history that does not feel so long ago given the current news of war crimes in the region.
Near that village lies the dark primeval Białowieża Forest, straddling the borders of Poland and Belarus. Though it's described as “hauntingly beautiful” its tall trees and seemly endless marshlands have witnessed the harshest of evils.
At the outbreak of WWII, Miriam Rabinowitz lived in the small Polish town of Zhetel, (sometimes called Zdzięcioł) with her husband Morris and two daughters, Tania and Rochel.
Christians and Jews had lived peacefully in Zhetel for nearly 400 years, while the town was variously under the control of Belarus, Russia and Poland. In 1939, the population was roughly 4,600 and 75 percent were Jewish.
The Nazis arrived in the fall of 1939. They shipped skilled workers to workcamps and eventually to death camps. With the help of local police, they slaughtered most of the remaining Jewish residents, men women and children, in two consecutive mass shootings in the spring and summer of 1942.
Today a memorial stands on the remnants of the old Jewish cemetery, a fenced collective grave, in which the bodies of about two thousand people are buried, shot in this place by the Nazis on August 6, 1942.
If these are too small to read on your screen, you may be able to access The Spokesman-Review E.edition here... April 6, 2022, pages D7 & D8
I'm fascinated to discover little-known history, stories of people and events that provide a new perspective on why and how things happened, new voices that haven't been heard, insight into how the past brought us here today, and how it might guide us to a better future.
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