As white nationalism and anti-Semitic acts of violence rise worldwide, on a recent European trip, I was interested to hear and feel local sentiments.
Stops included the heart and soul of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany— Nuremberg and Munich.
Tour guides in Germany did not fudge the facts about Nazi Germany nor justify the complacency of their ancestors towards Hitler.
Seems in the early 1970s, the government became concerned that their younger generations were forgetting the frightful history of six million Jews exterminated by Germans. To stop the growing ignorance, a visit by all 15-year-old students to a concentration camp became mandatory.
As one interpretative guide explained, there were three reasons why the Jews were persecuted in Germany. First, even as early as the 1100s, evidence was uncovered showing the church historically persecuted Jews for not accepting the Messiah.
Second, Adolf Hitler hated Jews and they were his perfect scape goat to dehumanize and solidify fear and hatred towards a common enemy.
And lastly, the Jews were persecuted because of envy.
After World War I, anyone who wanted to join a guild had to swear on the Bible, which a practicing Jew would never have done. At the same time, Bible-believing Christians understood it to be wrong to loan money with interest or go into debt.
Without an opportunity to take up a trade, industrious Jews started banks and used debt to fund new mercantile activities, getting rich in the process.
Austrian interpretative guides mentioned its country’s torrid past with Hitler, but the passion and fervour shown by German interpreters didn’t seem as evident. In fact, Austria has elected a far-right wing government and its first action was to close the border to refugees.
At the wedding of Austria’s Foreign Affairs Minister’s daughter, invited guest President Vladimir Putin of Russia seemed to have a very warm and cozy relationship with this highranking Austrian politician.
Austria was a willing subject to Adolf Hitler during World War II and Austria’s flirting with Russia and their ardent stance against refugees leads one to ponder their memories of history.
Hungary is doing their race-purity policy by refusing refugees and enacting strong anti-immigration laws. They offer married couples who commit to having three children in 10 years, a 32,000 euro cheque to purchase a home.
Hungarians average income per year is 800 euro. The hope behind the three-child policy—one replaces mom, one replaces dad and one grows the population and expands the economy without immigration.
Attacks against Jews and other religious minorities are on the rise throughout Western countries, and that includes Germany and Canada.
One German interpreter told a recent story where thousands of Nazi followers gathered for a rally in the centre square of Bamberg.
It was thwarted when the local Priest rang the church bells for hours making it impossible for speakers to be heard.
Ironically, the Priest was charged and found guilty under German law of obstructing freedom of speech, but who said democracies weren’t messy.
But, alas, the future can be more than messy when we forget the past.