Within months of Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Germany’s Chancellor in 1933, Nazi S.S. thugs in Berlin stood menacingly in front of Jewish owned businesses.
They held up signs in their grubby, beat-opponents-to-a-pulp hands that read, “Kraft night bei juden!”
“Don’t buy from Jews!”
Germany has had a history of Jew-baiting going back to the 15th century. (Christianity’s contribution can be traced to the Gospel of John, wherein Jews are blamed for Jesus’ death.)
Here’s a seven-point tract called, “On the Jews and Their Lies.” It circulated widely in 1543. An excerpt should suffice to indicate its malicious intent.
“First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians.”
Its author is Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant movement. It is, one can say without fear of contradiction, an embarrassment to the many protestant denominations evolved since Luther’s time (1483-1586).
In 1935, Nazi Germany decreed the notorious Nuremberg Laws. Jews were made non-status residents with no rights. They were excluded from practicing any medicine, law, or teaching of Aryan citizens (non-Jews).
In 1938, Jewish homes, businesses, synagogues were vandalized, burned, destroyed during the November weekend that lives in lasting infamy as “Kristallnacht.” Night of shattered glass. Soon Jews were required to wear yellow stars. Failure to do so meant death. Soon Jewish property was confiscated. Jews were deported to lice-ridden ghettos.
German city after city was declared, “Judenfrei.” Free of Jews. It was hard not to know what was going on. But most Germans looked the other way. Most minded their own business. Shoah, the Holocaust, was underway. “Kraft nicht bei Juden” it visibly began. It ended with six million deaths.
Hitler’s rise to totalitarian power was made possible by a worldwide economic depression that affected Germany especially hard. There was exceptional unemployment, discontent, failure of political parties to bring about governing stability, especially that of the post-World War I, democratic Weimar Republic. (Any of this sound just a little familiar here?)
It may be by a stretch of imagination by those who have lived as a bridge between the recent past – say, 60 or more years – to the present day, to perceive cautions, hints, similarities between times then and now. Trends to take note of. Warnings to watch out for. Count me in. I hope I’m wrong.
Having said as much, having reflected on another time and place in our beleaguered 20th century history, it is noted with acute interest that the American Family Association has demanded of its members another boycott: Home Depot.
The AFA is calling Home Depot on the threadbare Christian hate carpet because of its support of many gay Pride events. (AFA in the past has called for boycotting of Ford Motor Co. and Disney World for their generous commitments to the LGBT community.)
For the most part, the AFA boycotts have not been effective. Ford Motor Company has not gone under nor, unlike its competitors, gone into bankruptcy. Disney World still has popular gay days. And, safe to say, Home Depot will not be affected in the least. (Lesbian shoppers will see to that.)
What’s disturbing is that it’s all too easy to picture an AFA Bible bully carrying a sign, “Don’t Buy From Gays or Gay Supporters.” And looking the other way when a gay bashing happens or a basic civil right gets taken away – all in God’s name. “Kraft nicht bei AFA.”