The Resistance

It struck me how rare true bravery is when I visited the Topography of Terror Museum (to the Germans credit, they’ve spent years memoralizing their victims and attempting to atone for their crimes). Caption to this photo: “Conformity and refusal: Spectators and workers of the Blohm & Voss shipyards during the singing of the national anthem and the Horst Wessel Song following the ‘Fuhrer’s address’ given by ADolf Hitler on the occasion of the launch of the German Navy training ship 'Horst Wessel,’ Hamburg, June 13, 1936. While all those present raise their right arms in the obligatory 'German salute,’ one man refuses and crosses his arms. We have varying, sometimes conflicting, information on the identity of this brave non-conformist. His name was probably August Landmesser." 

"The local SA and SS stage a public humiliation of two teachers and an accountant and auditor on the market square in Coburg, September 30, 1933. The reasons for exposing the victims, both teachers at schools in Coburg, can be found in the words on the placards hung around their necks: 'I complained about an SA Fuhrer!’ and 'I forbade pupils to say Heil Hitler!’ We do not know the contents of the third victim’s placard.”

“Group photo of members of the Flensburg Gestapo on an excursion, May 21, 1936. The original caption reads: 'Stapo Outing on Ascension Day 1936.’" 

Glad these guys took some time out for themselves. 

"Friedrich Engel, former Gestapo chief in Genoa, on trial in Hamburg, May 7, 2002. Engel was responsible, among other things, for the 1944 reprisal killing of 59 Italian prisoners. After having been largely left alone until 1999, he was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment by an Italian military court. In 2002, Hamburg District Court sentenced the defendant, who was born in 1909, to seven years. The German Federal Court of Justice overturned the ruling, and the case was closed in 2004 because of Engl’s age. He died in 2006." 

His story is typical. In the Topography of Terror Museum, I was shocked to read profile after profile of criminal cases being dismissed or thrown out. Too many guys like Friedrich grew to be old men who enjoyed freedom their whole lives.

"The poster text reads, 'This hereditary defective costs the Volk community 60,000 RM (Reichsmark) over his lifetime. German comrade (Voksgenosse) that is your money.’

"The 'Racial Policy Office’ propagated Nazi 'racial doctrine’ in a variety of ways. In posters and publications, it contrasted the ideal of the healthy, capable, and 'racially pure’ German with the grossly distorted, biologistic and socially racist image of the unproductive sick and disabled who burdened the 'productive Volk community’ as 'ballast existences.”

Sadly, this reminded me of the Tea Partiers chanting 'Let them die!’ during a political debate in which a question arose regarding what to do about the uninsured.

This spot commemorates the victims of Aktion T4. “From 1939 to 1941 the Nazis carried out a secret mass murder programme code-named 'Aktion T4.’ Most of the victims–men, women and children–were mentally ill or disabled. Under the Nazi ideology of a racially pure and healthy nation, they were considered 'unfit to live’…At least 200,000 people were murdered in Aktion T4 and other Nazi 'euthanasia’ programmes. There were no survivors. Many of the perpetrators escaped prosecution and were able to continue their professional careers.”

Propaganda posters at the German Resistance Memorial Center.

Map of the death and concentration camps. The number of Holocaust victims, including Jews, homosexuals, leftists, people with disabilities and other groups, is estimated between 11 million and 17 million people.