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Posts tagged nazi

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I have very, very close ties to Germany. My dad’s side of the family is 100% German. My dad was born in Germany. Germany is a major part of my heritage. It’s something I identify with. I’m proud of the fact that I am German.

But I do not have a Nazi flag in my car. That is a part of my history about which I have collective guilt. Most Germans do, even though young one’s like me weren’t even alive at the time of WWII. We don’t say, “Well, yeah, that whole Auschwitz thing was bad, but it was just a part of the culture at that time to be racist.”

And yes, I may point out that my grandfather didn’t really want to be a Nazi soldier, but he enlisted so he could decide where he would go to fight. If they drafted you, you’d have no choice, and since he had friends in England and America, he figured if he had to fight anyway (and pretty much every young, able-bodied man would), it might as well be Russia. He was shot in the stomach with shrapnel and would have died if his mother hadn’t gone to the hospital just behind the front line and bitched out the doctor, saying, “You treat my son!” And then later, he was kidnapped and sent to a Russian gulag, which he miraculously survived with the help of his friend, Hans. Is anyone in my family proud that he was a Nazi soldier? No. In fact, war is a horrible, horrible thing, and no one should ever have to be a soldier. And I think most soldiers who saw real combat know this. War changes a person, and while we should always respect soldiers for their sacrifice, we should also always remember that it was a sacrifice. They lost something. Now maybe if they lost it for something worth fighting for, it makes that pill easier to swallow. But then, is anything really worth killing another human being for?

This idea of war as hell, as something unglamorous, it’s something that’s grown in me through hearing my grandparents stories of WWII. My anti-war, pacifist stance is something I think comes from the fact that my family has experienced war first-hand, in a way many American family’s haven’t. Hitler was certainly in the wrong, and had to be stopped, but a lot of wars aren’t that clear-cut. And even in WWII, the Allies weren’t exactly exemplars of human beings either. Remember Hiroshima and Nagisaki? Or how about something smaller:

My grandma’s school was bombed by the English when she was just a little girl. She had to crawl out through the rubble and dead bodies. French slaves helped her hide while the English planes tried to strafe her with gunfire. Yes, the English tried to kill my grandmother when she was just a little girl. Now I don’t hold this against the English themselves, but it just showed me growing up how no one is really innocent in war.

But I don’t think that these facts, that my grandma and grandpa had nothing to do with the Holocaust, and that they were hurt by the atrocities of the war as well, means that it is in anyway acceptable for me to fly a Nazi flag because I am “proud of your heritage.” I have no direct connections to the horrors of the Holocaust, and yet my German heritage is tied to it. And it is something I am always aware of, that I am careful about, that I feel guilty about.

So I don’t care if you have “negro” friends (do you really call them “negro”?). I have Jewish friends. That doesn’t make it okay for me to be “proud of my heritage” by celebrating Nazism. I don’t care that your family was rebelling against a “corrupt government.” The Germans were rebelling against the unjust Treaty of Versailles that crippled the German economy, but that doesn’t validate all the racism that went along with their war. And again, that doesn’t make it okay to fly a Nazi flag. That doesn’t make it okay to say, “The Reich will rise again!”

And I have no desire to do any of these things.

I feel guilty about this part of my heritage in a very real way, and I act on that guilt by fighting against racism and bigotry wherever I find it. A German who flies a Nazi flag would be considered a racist and anti-Semite for a very good reason. It’s those same basic reasons that people who fly Confederate flags and say “The South will rise again!” are considered racist. Because that is not a part of one’s culture about which one should feel proud. It’s okay to identify yourself as a “Southerner.” It’s okay to be proud of that heritage.

But when it comes to those actions of your forebears, when it comes to that war motivated by slavery and racism, well, that’s a place where you should have a healthy sense of collective guilt that impels you to do good. You know, to fight against racism in this country and the fact that many African Americans are still held down in ghettos and in poverty, which is part of the ongoing effects of the history of slavery and racism going all the way back to your slave-owning ancestor, regardless of how “nice” they were.

*drops mic and walks away*

Winner. Of. The. Whole. Damn. Internet.


(Source: womanistgamergirl, via feminist-space)

Filed under race racism South The South southern confederate confederates confederacy Nazi swastika guilty guilty