Friday, February 19, 2010

Tales of "new" and "old"

In looking at the failures of the Democrats and Obama to reform health care and to make other significant changes, it seems obvious to me that Money Talks. Until we have Serious Campaign Finance Reform and in general live in a world in the U.S. and the world as a whole where "people matter" we will face serious obstacles to both world peace and justice in general.

The failures of the Democrats and Obama also have helped make the rise of the Tea Partyites and the pushes towards Facism and Fundamentalism and similar much scarier.

Recently I've been doing a lot of genealogical work and related studying of my father's family. My father's family includes a great-uncle who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the 1960's, a noted psychotherapist who was the first wife of Erich Fromm as well as some serious scholars and many fascinating people in general. My great-grandfather was a successful and wealthy German (Jewish) banker. I was named after him.

Most recently hearing the sad story of my great-aunt Rahel (Rachel, as well as one of her sons and his wife, gives in some ways a "counter story" to some of what I hear and feel today as discussed above. Rahel's husband Sally owned or managed a most successful timber business in Koenigsberg (now Kaliningrad) after World War I. The business had offices in other parts of Europe and his sons managed some of these offices as the business grew.

In 1936 Rahel and Sally moved to Amsterdam and the Nazi's relieved the families' ties to their business because they were Jewish. Sally died of natural causes in 1940 as World War II began.

Soon after Sally's death, a family member living in Zurich unexpectedly received a large trunk from Rahel. Rahel hoped to escape to Switzerland with her family and have her possessions safe from the turmoil in The Netherlands. In 1942, after escaping detection in Holland, Rahel, a son and daughter-in-law fled to Paris. In Paris they moved constantly tried to avoid detection by the Nazis and desperately sought to escape to Switzerland, South America or some other safe haven.

Rahel - unlike many other desperate Jews - was wealthy. Despite having lost some of their wealth, she could afford to pay for whatever was necessary to escape.

Unfortunately - the contact (to escape) that they finally made was with a pathological French physician - who killed them with injections and then hacked their bodies to pieces and burned the remains, while taking their possessions. He was put to death in 1946 after a trial, having killed well over 100 people including some non-Jews as well. (Evidently his actions had nothing directly to do with any support of the Nazis.)

The sad story of Rahel and part of her family is a case where money didn't matter. Being Jewish was "the crime" and "the curse". Jews - had had some economic power, but that power was useless as Nazi ideology blamed Jews for all that had befallen the Germans after World War I.

Today in the U.S. we face the realities of how millions of Blacks were enslaved and exploited after 1865. Racism persists. Many have died because they were the wrong skin color and were seen as "the enemy" by jealous White Men (usually men anyway). The racism in the U.S. used economic exploitation.

Today in the U.S. we face problems as the Glenn Beck's of our country exploit the economic turmoil with its resultant fears and ignorance. Hopefully we will Not go further in the directions that lead to sad stories such as my relatives faced.


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