The Restless Conscience
I spent the third grade in Bavaria because my dad was on a sabbatical from Harvard University (where he’d been squeezed out of a job due to politics and wanted to take advantage of every perk before moving on).
Most American’s are embedded with a deep hatred of everything German, especially ones that are part Jewish like me, but I proudly drive a Volkswagen and have an entirely different take on the German people as victims of bankers who put Hitler into power. Hitler came in as a “National Socialist,” a wolf in sheep’s clothing if ever there was one. Many of the leading industrialists and royal families around the globe welcomed and assisted Hitler to power, people like Henry Ford, Joseph Kennedy and the King of England, who was forced to abdicate after he was discovered secretly plotting with the Nazis. Standard Oil sold fuel to Germany throughout the war, using cut-outs in neutral countries.
After the Reichstag fire, Hitler set aside all law, and went straight to the Vatican to sign a mutual admiration agreement that guaranteed the Vatican would silence Catholic critics inside Bavaria in exchange for Nazi protection of all German Catholics. Bavaria is Germany’s largest state and deeply Catholic, home to both Sophie Scholl and Count von Stauffenberg. The rest of Germany is Lutheran, and it was easy for Hitler to install a Nazi bishop in charge of that religion.
We lived in Munich, which is pronounced “Myuun-chin” and sounds more like the little people from the Wizard of Oz than the harsh Mun-ick, which is how outsiders say it. I had a wonderful Bavarian accent and was fully fluent before I left, but lost almost all of it quickly after returning home.
I was too young to get into Auschwitz, but remember my mom throwing up as she stepped out the gate. Once she entered a gas chamber, the vibe was too heavy and she had to leave immediately.
On the week-ends, we climbed the alps and visited the incredible castles that abound throughout Bavaria, certainly one of the most beautiful spots on earth.
Hitler’s second major move after his treaty with the Vatican, by the way, was to set up a rich Polish Jew named Sam Cohen with an agreement to move Jews to Palestine, leaving behind most of their wealth, of course. Sam was also profiteering no doubt.
The Nazi velvet glove slipped off during Krystalnacht when the wolf lost his sheep’s clothing. To give an idea of the mindset at the time, the general in charge of the 9th Infantry Division put his troops on alert, as he expected to be called into Berlin to stop the destruction of Jewish property. The 9th would remain a hotbed of Nazi resistance throughout the war. Over twenty assassinations were attempted.
The sad reality is that numerous attempts were made to get British assistance to arrest or assassinate Hitler, but England refused all help and maintained the fiction throughout the war that there was no internal resistance to Hitler, when thousands, many high up in the military and oligarchy and even the royal houses of Bavaria (although all royal privileges had been set aside by the Weimar Republic) were all praying for an end to the Nazi regime.
Even more astonishing, the Nazi resistance provided detailed war plans to the British throughout the war, even warning them of the invasions of Poland, France and the Netherlands, but the British told no one and did nothing to mobilize opposition? This information certainly puts a new face on the Blitzkrieg that cemented Hitler into a manufactured consensus. After those nearly bloodless yet successful invasions, all opposition was driven deep underground.
There’s an amazing documentary that you can watch on amazon prime or netflix, titled, The Restless Conscience. I highly recommend it, as well as the German films on Sophie Scholl and Count Stauffenberg, one titled The White Rose, and the other, Stauffenberg. The heroic effort of the anti-Nazi resistance and its martyrs need to be more celebrated.