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Six Pillars

HUMAN EQUALITY

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. That among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

 

THE MASTER RACE

The Nazis divided the world into “superior” and “inferior” races and identified a series of victim groups.

Jews were the Nazis’ primary victims but far from being their only ones.

The Nazis victimized trade unionists and social democrats for what they did and Jehovah’s Witnesses for what they refused to do. They would neither swear allegiance to the state nor register for the draft. The “Heil Hitler” never left their lips. The Nazis chose other victims for what they were – Roma and Sinti (“Gypsies”) because they were regarded as asocial, and male homosexuals because of their behavior. German non-Jews with disabilities were regarded as “useless eaters” and their lives “unworthy of living,” an embarrassment to the “master race.” The Nazis used gas chambers to murder these persons with disabilities.

The Nazis regarded Jews as a cancer on German society and considered the total annihilation of Jewish men, women, and children as essential to the very survival of the “master race”.

 

 

AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

The Constitution created three branches of government, each of which is able to check and balance the others.

The Legislative branch, composed of the House of Representatives and the Senate, makes the Law. The Executive branch executes the law and is composed of the President, the Vice President, and their executive appointees. The Judicial branch interprets the law and is composed of the Supreme Courts and the lower federal courts.

The Bill of Rights, the Constitution’s first ten amendments, restrains the power of government, protecting citizens’ most essential freedoms.

 

TOTALITARIANISM

The Nazi government transformed Germany from a constitutional democracy to a totalitarian regime, imposing martial law and subordinating the judiciary and the parliament to Adolf Hitler in his capacity as supreme leader or “Fuhrer.” The military and the judiciary thus swore allegiance not to the constitution or even the nation, but to a single person. A policy known as the Fuhrer’s Princip gave Hitler’s will the force of law. The government possessed unlimited authority, including the power to kill innocent civilians by the millions because they were Jews.

 

NATURAL RIGHTS

In 1790 George Washington voiced the essential American value that protected human freedom, religious and otherwise.

“It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”

George Washington Letter of New Port Hebrew Congregation, August 18, 1790

 

NUREMBERG LAWS

The Nazi Party introduced the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law for the Protection of German Blood at its annual rally in Nuremberg on September 15, 1935. These “Nuremberg Laws” became the centerpieces of anti-Jewish legislation, revoking citizenship from Jews, even decorated World War I veterans and those whose families had lived in Germany for generations.

The laws prohibited marriage and sexual relations between Jews and citizens of “German or kindred blood,” and forbade women under 45 from working in Jewish homes.

The Reich thus defined Jews not according to the identity they affirmed or the religion they practiced, but rather according to their blood, leading to the removal of Jews from German society and, ultimately, to genocide.

 

FREEDOM OF RELIGION

The First Amendment of the Constitution forbids Congress from promoting one religion over others and from restricting an individual’s religious practices. Freedom of Religion has become, in practice, Freedom for Religion as Americans feel free to practice their faith.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment I

 

RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

The three days, starting November 9, 1938, Nazi Party officials and others carried out orchestrated attacks against Jews throughout Germany. The perpetrators set fire to over 1,000 synagogues, destroying Torah scrolls, prayer books, and other sacred objects. They ransacked over 7,000 Jewish businesses and deported 30,000 Jewish men to concentration camps. Authorities ordered police not to interfere, instructing fire brigades to protect adjacent buildings bit not synagogues. Many Germans joined the attacks; many more stood idly by. These pogroms came to be known by the sanitized name Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. From this moment on, Jewish life in Germany became impossible.

Kristallnacht was the beginning of the end.

 

PROTECTING LIFE AND LIBERTY

The Constitution of the United states specifies that no person shall be deprived of their life or liberty without a fair trial.

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury…nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Constitution of the United States, Amendment V

 

DEATH CAMPS

In the first years, the Nazi regime “Aryanized” Jewish property, forcibly transferring it to non-Jewish ownership. In later years, authorities seized Jewish property at will throughout Germany’s occupied territories.

Ultimately, in 1941, the Nazis arrived at their ‘Final Solution to the Jewish problem,’ which called for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child. All Jews were to be killed – not as a matter of guilt or innocence, but rather as one of state policy. Being Jewish became a capital offense; six death camps were established with the purpose of mass murder, which the Nazis termed “extermination.”

 

LIBERATION

Leon Bass was born and raised in Philadelphia, the birthplace of America’s Constitutional Democracy, and later became the principal of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin High School. He was a young African-American soldier serving in a segregated army when he entered the Buchenwald concentration camp just after the German guards and executioners had fled.

“I remember going through the gates shortly after our men had gone through, and I saw the walking dead. I saw human beings who had been beaten, starved and tortured. They were standing there, skin and bones, dressed in striped pajamas. They had skeletal faces with deep-set eyes. They had sores on their bodies. One man held out his hands, and they were webbed together with scabs due to malnutrition.

“Something happened with I walked through the gates. My blinders came off. My tunnel vision dissipated. And I began to realize that human suffering is not delegated just to me and mine. Human suffering touches everybody. All people can suffer.”

 

BEARING WITNESS

Dwight David Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, wrote to General George Marshall of his trip to Ohrdruf Concentration Camp on April 12, 1945:

“The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick…I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda.’”