This Veteran’s Day, Sharon and I left early for Union Station and the Holocaust exhibit that is playing to rave reviews. We began with a simply outstanding hot breakfast delivered to our car, drive through style, by our local Hi-Vee. A piping hot serving of scrambled eggs, hash brown casserole, sausage and bacon, a biscuit smothered in sausage gravy, topped by a tasty little cinnamon bun kick started the day’s activities. It was fitting that breakfast was delivered from a tent, something every veteran knows about. Hi-Vee loves our veterans. Fortified with a cup of hot joe, we started north to meet with our dear friends Col. (Ret.) John Bryan and his wife Bridgett to see what the exhibit was all about. It did not disappoint.
The Red Army, approaching from the east and American/British forces from the west and south were the first to see the inhumane horror tagged by the Nazi’s as the “final solution”. The exhibit singled out perhaps the most notorious death camp, Auschwitz. Students of history are familiar with this aberration in human behavior, however only those who dig deeper than the obvious horror will understand the concept of genocide, a concept that generally requires societal buy in, but occurs at the direction of fanatical leadership, such as that provided by Adolph Hitler and his like minded henchmen and women. The overwhelming consideration for me was the blissful ignorance of the German population and the people’s willingness to adhere to their satanic leader, Hitler and his psychotic musings. I also came away with a renewed sense of the incredible power of the military in today’s world. The Holocaust was the work of the German Army and it’s destruction and unveiling the work of Allied Armies. The common defense of the Nazi denizens from hell was the concept of absolute adherence to the orders of their superiors. It saved several from the gallows, but more often than not, the most demented of the lot met their demise at the end of a rope. We know, too, that many of the Nazi death camp workers met their end upon the liberation of the camps, some shot to death unceremoniously, others beat to death by those detainees able to wield a club or other tool. Far too many Nazi’s, directly involved in these horrors, escaped justice, a number of them enjoying the protection of the Catholic Church, for reasons that escape comprehension. Then again, the Holocaust is incomprehensible to the vast majority of folks who take the time to soak it in.
In spite of the current woke mentality that seeks the destruction of our country’s history, it is so critical to the survival of mankind that we record and preserve both the good and bad in our past. Sharon was struck deeply by the Jewish mothers who carefully packed the necessary things for their infant children, believing that all would be well, only to be forced to hold their child in front of them so that a single bullet would kill them both before toppling into a ditch. Is man capable of such depravity? Yes, and we must never forget that.
Our system of government is designed to provide a check and balance to authoritarian rule. We have the legislature, the judicial branch and the executive branch. We flirt with destruction when all three branches are in lock step, especially if the intent does not represent the will of the people. Hitler and the Nazi party are a stark reminder these things can happen. Germany, an industrial giant with a fabulous standing Army, handed Hitler the reins, a mentally ill, hatred filled human like, demonic creature, and the Holocaust resulted. You wouldn’t know these things if we had obliterated the horror of Auschwitz and the “final Solution”
A mix of emotions have ranged through me as I process the lessons from this exhibit. The power of a country’s military, the hatred that fairly seethes through our country today, the incredible power we have vested in the Presidency, the flaunting of our constitution, our Pollyanna outlook that all is going to be fine, what will be will be. The German economy, destroyed in WWI, offered Adolph Hitler an opportunity to seize control of Germany and shape it to reflect his idea of a great society, racially pure and devoid of folks who did not meet his ethnicity standards. The exhibit teaches. History teaches. It was a Veteran’s Day that I won’t forget.
God bless our military. May they never be used for anything other than the defense of our nation. May they always be strong and capable of crushing the military of other nations whose intentions are other than existing peacefully in a world order. Finally, preserve history, do not re-write it or, worse yet, attempt to hide it. The reasons are obvious.
Have a great weekend!