As the number of refugees escaping violence around the world continues to rise, Americans are once again confronted with the moral question of who is welcomed into the country and who is turned away. Author and journalist Eric Lichtblau recounts a similar situation after World War II. Jewish survivors of the Nazi concentration camps were refused entry into the US while high-level German officers and scientists quietly slipped in and were allowed to reinvent themselves as new Americans. Lichtblau explores this double standard in The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men, presented by the Holocaust Living History Workshop at UC San Diego. A warning: Lichtblau’s reading of the vicious, anti-Semitic remarks from General George Patton’s post-war journal is not for the faint-hearted.
It’s all in the details. It’s the stories, the artifacts, and the documents that reveal the horror faced by victims of the Holocaust. As author and historian Suzanne Brown-Fleming explains here, researchers into this painful part of human history now have access to the world’s largest Holocaust archive through the International Tracing Service, based in Bad Arolsen, Germany. Families can fill in the missing pieces of the ordeals that their lost relatives faced in World War II. With the ITS database now available at sites in Europe, Israel and at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Brown-Fleming and her colleagues are making sure that the world will, indeed, “never forget.”
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Of the many revealing stories shared in this program, one from German-born historian Frank Biess stands out. When he came to St. Louis as a college student, he was struck by the overt patriotism of Americans. As he explains, most Germans of the post-Holocaust era were so squeamish about appearing too nationalistic that they would never fly their country’s flag in front of their home because it could suggest support for the Neo-Nazis. The one notable exception? Flags were okay if the German soccer team was doing well in the World Cup.