November 20, 1945: Nuremberg Trials Get Underway

“But the most interesting — although horrible — sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they [there] were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda’.”

General Eisenhower letter to General George Marshall 4/15/45

The Nuremberg Trials got under way seventy years ago today.  One may cavil at some of the procedures used during the trials, and the presence of Soviet judges and prosecutors at the trial, but no decent human being can ever claim that the crimes committed by the leaders of the Third Reich do not, in Eisenhower’s phrase, beggar description.  The video at the beginning of this post consists of film shot by the Army Signal Corps of the Nazi death camps and was admitted into evidence at the Nuremberg trial.  It makes for grim viewing, but the reality it reflected must never be forgotten, lest humanity go down that dark path again.

Published in: on November 20, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on November 20, 1945: Nuremberg Trials Get Underway  
Tags: , ,

Tomorrow the World!

Emil Bruckner: If it is necessary, I will die for the Führer!

Mike Frame: Oh, I see. You want to die.

Emil Bruckner: It is my duty. Are you – going to beat me?

Mike Frame: Well, since you find death so pleasant, I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’ll kill you first and beat you afterwards.

Screenplay, Tomorrow the World! (1944)

 

 

I watched a very interesting movie yesterday, Tomorrow the World ! (1944).  Based on a successful Broadway play, it tells the story of a German boy, a completely indoctrinated Nazi, who comes to live with relatives in America after his mother dies.  His father was a leader of the German resistance, murdered in a Nazi concentration camp.  The boy, however, is a true believer in Hitler, who views his dead father as a traitor.

I was expecting a fairly lighthearted swift conversion of the Nazi youth to truth, justice and the American way.  The film was quite different and not at all what I expected.  Twelve year old Skip Homeier gives a chilling performance as Emil Bruckner.  For the time it was fairly strong, including Bruckner denouncing his teacher, who is also the fiancee of his American uncle, as a “Jewish tramp”.  Bruckner comes around eventually in a fairly unconvincing feel good ending, but the substance of the film was how difficult it is to change people who are heavily indoctrinated when young.

In the film Agnes Moorehead gives a great performance as the American Aunt of Emil, who he uses as a pawn in his schemes.  When she sees him initially in his Hitler Jugend uniform she opines that all Germans should be exterminated.  After two world wars, and casualty lists rapidly mounting, that was not an uncommon sentiment in the country in 1944.  Under the Morgenthau Plan, proposed by Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Germany after the war was to be de-industrialized and partitioned into harmless agricultural states.  Fortunately wiser heads prevailed.

Skip Homeier died at age 86 in 2017.  In the Star Trek episode Patterns of Force he returned to the Nazi ranks as the evil Deputy Fuehrer Melakon.

 

Published in: on October 3, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Tomorrow the World!  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

April 29, 1945: US Troops Liberate Dachau

2,579 Catholic priests, seminarians and brothers were thrown by the Nazis during World War II into Dachau.  1,780 of these were from Poland.  Of these, some 868 priests perished, 300 in medical “experiments” or by torture in the showers of the camp.

The remaining priests, seminarians and brothers came from 38 nations.  Besides the Poles the largest groups were 447 German and Austrian priests, 156 French priests and 46 Belgian priests. (more…)

Published in: on April 29, 2019 at 11:45 pm  Comments Off on April 29, 1945: US Troops Liberate Dachau  
Tags: , , ,

The Lion of Munster

The Lion of Munster

Neither praise nor threats will distance me from God.

Blessed Clemens von Galen

(I originally wrote this series for The American Catholic, and I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)

The Nazis hated and feared Clemens August Graf von Galen in life and no doubt they still hate and fear him, at least those now enjoying the amenities of some of the less fashionable pits of Hell.  Going into Lent, I am strongly encouraged by the story of Blessed von Galen.  I guess one could come up with a worse situation than being a Roman Catholic bishop in Nazi Germany in 1941, and confronting a merciless anti-Christian dictatorship that was diametrically opposed to the Truth of Christ, but that would certainly do for enough of a challenge for one lifetime for anyone.  (Hitler privately denounced Christianity as a Jewish superstition and looked forward after the War to “settling accounts”, as he put it, with Christianity in general and Roman Catholicism in particular.)

Priests who spoke out against the Third Reich were being rounded up and shipped off to concentration camps.  What was a bishop to do in the face of such massive evil?  Well, for the Bishop of Munster, Clemens von Galen, there could be only one answer.

A German Count, von Galen was from one of the oldest aristocratic families in Westphalia.  Always a German patriot, the political views of von Galen would have made my own conservatism seem a pale shade of pink in comparison.  Prior to becoming a bishop, he was sometimes criticized for a haughty attitude and being unbending.  He was chosen Bishop of Munster in 1933 only after other candidates, no doubt recognizing what a dangerous position it would be with the Nazis now in power, had turned it down.  I am certain  it did not hurt that he was an old friend of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII.

Von Galen immediately demonstrated that he had not agreed to become Bishop of Munster in order to avoid danger.  He successfully led a fight against the Nazi attempt to take over Catholic schools, citing article 21 of the Concordat between the Vatican and Nazi Germany.  He then began a campaign, often using humor and ridicule, against the Aryan racial doctrines proposed by Alfred Rosenberg, chief Nazi race theorist, and a man even some high level Nazis thought was little better than a crank.  Von Galen argued that Christianity totally rejected racial differences as determining how groups should be treated, and that all men and women were children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ.  The Bishop spoke out against Nazi attacks on the “Jewish Old Testament” stating that Holy Writ was Holy Writ and that the Bible could not be altered to suit current prejudices. (more…)

Published in: on March 9, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Lion of Munster  
Tags: , , , , , ,