Archive for the 'From Time to Time' Category

Oct 22 2020

Bridge-Builders: A Prelude to Kamala Harris

Published by under From Time to Time

From Time to Time

History does not repeat itself,
But it certainly likes to rhyme.

 

 

Bridge-Builders:

 

Black Colleges, German-Jewish Refugee Academicians

and The Civil Rights Movement:

A Prelude to Kamala Harris, the “Mameleh

 

 by Michael Panitz, Old Dominion University

 

The selection of Senator Kamala Harris as the Democratic Party’s nominee for Vice President, a woman of multi-cultural (South Asian and Jamaican) heritage, is without a doubt partly the effect of the renewed American focus in 2020 on the year’s second pandemic, the pandemic of racism. The massive wave of protests that broke across the cities of this country after the putative murder of George Floyd, an African American, by a White Minneapolis police officer has produced profound political as well as social consequences. Blacks and Whites marched together, demanding a dismantling of the structures of institutionalized oppression in the United States. One of the two major political parties, the Democratic Party, aligned itself with the protestors, and its (then) presumptive nominee, Former Vice President Joe Biden, signaled that he was looking closely at selecting a Black, female running mate. Senator Harris, already a serious contender for that post prior to the Floyd murder, became the leading contender in June and was duly selected in August.

One of the sad ironies of this season of protest against bigotry is that it has exposed a strain of anti-Semitism within the African American community. Despite the demonstrations of support on the part of most Jewish Americans for the protests against racial injustice towards Blacks, there has been a dismaying drumbeat of anti-Semitic expressions on the part of American Black cultural icons. The rappers Diddy, Ice Cube and Waka Flocka Flame, the sports journalist Nick Cannon and the celebrity athletes DeSean Jackson and Stephen Jackson followed in the footsteps of the inveterate anti-Semite, Minister Louis Farrakhan, voicing a range of anti-Semitic tropes: the Jews own all the banks; they murder Black children; they are satanic.[1] Jewish fellow athletes then engaged their peers in attempts to raise consciousness. Moreover, other prominent African Americans, such as the sports legends Charles Barkley and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, the sports journalist, Jemele Hill, and the cultural critic L.Z. Granderson, called out those expressions of bigotry[2]. Some, although not all, of those who had made bigoted remarks then recanted them.

Even so, the flurry of expressions of anti-Semitism served as a sobering reminder that high levels of anti-Semitic prejudice recorded in earlier surveys of African Americans have not disappeared.[3]

Against this backdrop, the elevation of Senator Harris offers positive prospects. Although a few progressives, White and Black, have criticized Harris as being insufficiently radical, a large chorus of voices has responded approvingly. Significantly, both Blacks and Jews have applauded her selection enthusiastically. It came as a revelation to many Jews that Senator Harris is married to Douglas Emhoff, a Jewish man, and that she celebrates aspects of Yiddish and Jewish culture in her family’s identity. Her fondness for the term of endearment, “Mameleh” (Yiddish for “mother dear”) can serve as a shorthand for the widespread embrace of Senator Harris by a majority of American Jews: Kamala has become a Mameleh.

Given this patchwork of hopeful and sobering signs of the times, it is timely to remember an episode in American history in which certain leading institutions within African American society came to the aid of Jews, with the Jewish beneficiaries later returning the favor and campaigning for Civil Rights. This is the outreach by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to hire German and Austrian Jewish refugees, fleeing Hitler and seeking asylum in the United States. Those academicians served ably in their African American settings, and in many cases, became key allies in the Civil Rights struggles of the 1950’s and 1960’s.[4]

 

  1. From Asylum Seeker to Ally and Mentor: Jewish Academicians at HBCUs

Looking back at the history of the Civil Rights movement for instances of Jews and African Americans working, and sometimes suffering, in partnership, there are some iconic images: Jewish Freedom Riders across the South; the three voting rights activists, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, two Jews and one African American, murdered together in Mississippi in 1964; Rabbi Joachim Prinz, speaking at the March on Washington, just a minute before Dr. Martin Luther King took the podium; Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching arm and arm with Dr. King at Selma, 1965, a score of other rabbis in the line of march.

We should add other, earlier images to this gallery. These images should include scenes of African American students at schools such as Fisk College, Talladega College, North Carolina Central University and other HBCUs, gathered around their German-Jewish refugee professors. Emblematic of an entire set of images is that of Professor Ernst Borinski, the distinguished sociologist, teaching social science to his African American students at Tougaloo College, Mississippi.

 

Professor Borinski and his students, c. 1960. Credit: Coral Gables Museum

 

The outreach on the part of HBCUs to Jewish refugee scholars began in the late 1930’s, as the Nazi oppression of Jews grew ever fiercer. Three examples will serve as illustrations: Viktor Lowenfeld, Ernst Manassee and John (Hans) H. Herz.

Viktor Lowenfeld was a leader in the field of Art Education. He was the art director of the Blind Institute in Vienna, also working in primary and secondary-level schools, until he fled Austria in 1938. During the war years he consulted for the U.S. Navy in the field of visual aids. His main work was at Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia, where he was hired as assistant professor of industrial arts in 1939. When Hampton created an art department, Lowenfeld was named its chairman. He left Hampton when he accepted a position at Penn State University in Art Education in 1946, remaining there until his untimely death in 1960.

North Carolina Central University was a leader in the effort to employ Jewish scholars. In 1939, the president of the school, James Shepard, offered a position to the refugee philosopher Ernst Manasse. Manasse had fled Germany after the passage of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935 and had spent some time in Italy and in England while attempting to gain entry to the United States. Once in the USA, he was unsuccessful in his job search, and his visa had nearly expired, when Shepard brought him on board. He later reflected that he would most likely have been killed had he been deported.[5]

A position at one of the HBCUs was not always the first employment secured by the refugee scholar, but it could mean rescue rather than deportation when earlier employment ran out. A rising political scientist, John H. Herz, found temporary employment in America, 1939-1941, as assistant to Abraham Flexner, director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. But in 1941, Herz was failing to find steady, long-term employment at the college level. He was told that his being Jewish and a refugee were obstacles to his search. Schools were giving preference to American citizens, to help bring down the high unemployment that persisted since the Depression. He was saved from deportation when Ralph Bunche, head of the political science department at Howard University, hired him. Although Herz ultimately spent the bulk of his career at the City University of New York, he remained forever grateful for the open-mindedness he experienced at Howard. In 1994, he expressed this sentiment in a letter to the Editor of the New York Times: “’The helping hand stretched out by black colleges and black scholars should not be forgotten at a time when, alas, Jewish-black relations have become strained. I will forever remember in gratitude.”[6]

How did the HBCUs manage to make these hires, during the hard times of the Depression? There were financial inducements offered to facilitate the hiring of these scholars. The Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, founded in 1933, was the most important institution working for the admission of refugee scholars to the United States and their successful job placement. Knowing that the public climate of opinion was isolationist, the Emergency Committee kept a low profile, turning to Foundations rather than to the general public in its fund-raising activities. One of its most fruitful partnerships was with the Rockefeller Foundation. These financial arrangements provided needed budget relief for the colleges that hired the refugee scholars.[7] But that does not detract from the humanitarian accomplishment. In a racist society, these hires were noteworthy exceptions to the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism within American society.[8]

Once the refugee crisis had passed, administrators at colleges that had hired Jewish refugees initially remained open to hiring Jewish faculty. Some of these later placements were scholars who had come to the United States as children. George Iggers, the noted historian, arrived as a 12-year-old just before Kristallnacht. He completed his academic training in the late 1940’s and began his academic career at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1950.

Other Jewish scholars finding a temporary or permanent home at HBCUs had arrived as adults but had at first been unable to find work in the academic setting. The economist Fritz Pappenheim, who made it to the USA, with great difficulty, in 1941, did settlement work with youths in Cleveland, Ohio, prior to attaining his first college position at Talladega College in 1945. The sociologist Ernst Borinski, trained in the law, had worked as a lawyer and magistrate in Kelbra, in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, prior to fleeing the Nazis. He turned to academic teaching in America only after the completion of his army service in World War II. Unlike some of the other refugee scholars, who ultimately moved on to other and more prestigious institutions, Borinski remained committed to his students at Tougaloo for the rest of his career. He continued teaching as an emeritus, albeit at a reduced level, until his death in 1983.

 

  1. Assessing the Significance of the Phenomenon

How should the importance of this phenomenon be assessed?

The significance of the presence of Jewish teachers and scholars in African American colleges was not a matter of large numbers. It should be remembered that a small fraction of the refugee population was involved in this endeavor. Statistics reveal the limited scope of this phenomenon: Of the nearly three quarters of a million Jews in Germany and Austria during the early years of the Third Reich, 282,000 succeeded in leaving Germany, and 117,000 from annexed Austria, by 1939. Of this number, 95,000 emigrated to the United States. Within that group were approximately 2,000 scholars from European academic institutions. Just over 50 scholars found employment in HBCUs. Again, looking at the phenomenon from the perspective of humanitarian agencies assisting scholars to relocate to the United States and secure employment, the role of HBCU’s does not stand out if judged by numbers alone. As noted, The Rockefeller Foundation was one of the principal donor organizations tapped by The Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars to underwrite the costs of assisting these scholars. The Rockefeller Foundation gave grants to approximately 300 social scientists and scholars within this category. The 53 scholars who found work in the Historically Black college network—not all of whom were Rockefeller Foundation grant recipients—were clearly only a modest fraction of the total number of scholars who received assistance. Most found employment elsewhere. Elite scholars and public intellectuals achieved placement in more prestigious schools of higher learning. Others were unable to continue their careers in higher education after migration.

This analysis makes it clear that the ultimate importance of the hiring of that cohort goes beyond that number of careers salvaged.[9] Rather, the importance of the humanitarian work of the HBCUs, hiring Jewish refugees as faculty, and of the scholars themselves, interacting with African American students, lay in three domains:

First, the action was exemplary. When the placement of Jewish scholars in faculty positions at HBCUs began in the 1930’s, offering them employment advanced the frontiers of the conceivable. That is always a key early step in the general advance of a humanitarian ideal. The ideal advanced in 1930’s America was that anti-Semitism could not be tolerated within the mainstream of civil society.

Bringing in Jewish refugees to fill jobs was deeply unpopular at that time. Public opinion surveys in the 1930’s and 1940’s disclosed anti-Semitic attitudes common to high percentages of American respondents. In 1940, 63% said that, as a group, Jews had “objectionable traits.” In fourteen polls conducted, 1938-1946, between one third and one half of respondents opined that American Jews were too powerful for the good of the country. Most germane to the question of bringing Jewish refugees to this country and having them fill jobs, in 1938, 83% opposed opening the country to more European refugees than had already been admitted. This opposition was a function of bigotry, not of the presence of large numbers of refugees in the country, since the era of unrestricted immigration to America from Europe had been curtailed in the 1920’s by the Johnson Immigration Bill.[10]

Up through the 1930’s, in the mainstream American university, as within the larger American context, anti-Semitism was well within the spectrum of accepted opinions. Quite a few schools had quotas, not for the purposes of affirmative action, but rather, for the reverse: to limit the number of Jewish students. This was true both in the prestigious Ivy League schools of the Northeast and in many public state universities across the nation. Graduate, professional schools such as medical schools were notorious for their Jewish quotas. [11]Hiring Jewish scholars to teach non-Jewish students was an act of moral courage on the part of the leaders of the HBCUs. Moral courage is the necessary precursor to testing and transcending discrimination.

Second, the fortuitous “marriage of convenience” of Jewish scholars and teachers with their African American students created mentor-disciple relationships that raised the sights of the students and helped them to fulfill their dreams of entering positions of leadership within the cultural, professional and academic sectors of American society.

A striking example of this was the mentor-disciple relationship of Viktor Lowenfeld and John Biggers. They met each other in the right place, at the right time, for their combination of talents and interests to achieve fruitful results:

As noted, Lowenfeld found work teaching industrial arts at Hampton Institute. Despite its small size, that school already played an outsize role in the transmission of African art to American audiences. One of its early alumni, William Sheppard, was the first African American to collect African art. He had amassed a respectable collection during his tenure as a Christian missionary in Africa. In 1911, Sheppard donated a considerable assemblage of art from the central African Kuba Kingdom to his alma mater.[12] Lowenfeld assumed the collateral responsibility of curating the collection at Hampton’s art musuem.

Lowenfeld taught at Hampton until he began teaching at Pennsylvania State University in 1945, where he remained until his death in 1960. But during his tenure at Hampton, he mentored the rising Black artist John Biggers. Biggers had come to Hampton intending to study plumbing. Lowenfeld inspired him to devote his energies to art. In 1943, Biggers’ work was featured in the exhibit, “Young Negro Art”, presented by New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Biggers was then drafted into the U.S. Navy, but after his discharge, he followed Lowenfeld to Penn State and accomplished his advanced training there. While completing his dissertation in 1954, he took up a position at Texas State College for Negroes, later Texas Southern University, and remained there for three decades until his retirement, while also earning accolades as one of the leading African American artists of the generation.

One of the remarkable examples of mentor-disciple bonds was the connection forged at Talladega College between the economist Fritz Pappenheim and his students. After five years of teaching at Talladega, he became eligible for tenure in 1950. While supported by many of the faculty, Pappenheim was denied tenure at Talladega because, in the Cold-War atmosphere of the times, the trustees of the college were unwilling to support his openly Marxist orientation. The debate continued for two years. When Pappenheim’s bid was finally rejected, in 1952, his admiring students assembled outside the building where the trustees were meeting and protested vociferously until the president of the college was dismissed.[13]

 

Illustration: Students and one of their five Jewish professors at Talladega College.[14]  

Credit: Amistad Research Center in association with Tulane University

 

Third, the interaction of Jewish faculty and African American students promoted the development of the civil rights movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The Jewish professors, themselves the victims of racism, were, as a group, more willing than the generational norm to challenge the anti-Black racism of mid-twentieth-century America.

The Jewish scholars assisted in developing the Civil Rights movement in two ways: first, they modeled integration and inter-group respect. Second, they advised their students in areas related to civil rights activism. Drawing upon his legal experience, Borinski counseled his students in the legal aspects of their civil rights activities.

Sometimes working behind the scenes, at other times the Jewish scholars were willing to defy the anger of Southern, White racists by taking higher-profile actions. Examples of these kinds are pioneer efforts on behalf of civil rights are found in the lives of Lore Rasumussen, Borinski and Georg Iggers.

Lore May Rasmussen, a German-Jewish refugee, and Donald Rasmussen, her American-born husband, began their academic careers at Talladega College in Alabama, teaching there from 1942-1956. They then moved to the Philadelphia area, where Lore devoted her energies to mathematics instruction in the Philadelphia public schools. While in Alabama, the Rasmussens defied the local segregation laws by dining, with an African American friend, in a black-owned restaurant. They spent a night in a Birmingham jail for their defiance.[15]

Borinski enlisted his African American students in a stratagem to challenge segregated seating patterns in education. Giving social science presentations that were open to the general public in the late 1950’s, he would direct his students to arrive early and occupy alternate seats, so as to compel the Whites to sit together with the Blacks.[16] He also encouraged White students at nearby colleges to attend integrated events at Tougaloo: “Borinski encouraged numerous events—meetings, lectures, and German language classes—that cut across racial lines, and his social science lab was an oasis of journals, newspapers, and other related publications that ultimately led to an African study group that included students from nearby Millsaps College despite the dangers faced by participants in integrated activities.”[17]

Georg Iggers and his wife, Wilma, likewise a Jewish refugee (from Czechoslovakia) were leaders and activists in the civil rights movement in the 1950’s. During that decade, they served two historically Black colleges and universities, Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Dillard University in New Orleans. Later, they moved to the University of Buffalo, where Georg completed a fruitful career. While in Little Rock, they organized the successful effort to desegregate the city’s public library system. George compiled a report for the NAACP detailing the differences between the city’s two high schools, one for White and one for Black students. That report became part of Little Rock’s historic desegregation lawsuit.[18]

The encomium offered by Iggers’ colleague at the University of Buffalo, Andreas Daum is apt: “His and Wilma’s joint autobiography, Two Lives in Uncertain Times: Facing the Challenges of the Twentieth Century as Scholars and Citizens (2006), provides a lasting testament to the multiple identities Iggers lived as a German Jew, scholar, civil rights activist, and intercultural mediator.”[19] This tribute could apply to many in that remarkable cohort: Jews who fled oppression, and, in a land of greater—but still partial—freedom, worked to make their adopted country more tolerant.

The symbiosis encompassing HBCUs, Jewish faculty members and African American students may or may not ultimately be a counterweight to the tribalism that threatens the American ideal of e pluribus unum. But if this symbiosis is to have an impact on the evolving story of America, it needs to be remembered and celebrated that two minorities, Jewish Americans and African Americans, have been siblings in suffering., and that they have helped each other in meaningful ways.

From the vantage point of 2020, the candidacy of Kamala Harris provides a grace note to the melody of the historical episode presented in these pages. A practicing Baptist, with Hinduism in her background and Jewish tradition in her blended family, she may be seen as a symbol of the multi-cultural synthesis made possible by the American experiment.[20] Whatever may be the outcome of her candidacy in the coming presidential election, her ascent within American politics suggests that the bridge builders of the past three quarters of a century have successfully spanned at least some of the chasms in American society.

 

Michael Panitz

Old Dominion University

Temple Israel of Norfolk, Va.

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] Emily Schrader, “Antisemitism from unexpected source: The African American Community”, The Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2020.

[2] Marcy Oster,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jemele Hill call out anti-Semitism in the Black community” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 15, 2020; L.Z. Granderson, “My first brush with Black anti-Semitism came early. It was wrong then. It’s wrong now”, Los Angeles Times, July 17, 2020.

[3] Anti-Defamation League, Anti-Semitism and Prejudice in America: Highlights from an ADL Survey”, November 1998. In that survey, 34% of African Americans, as compared with 9% of White Americans, were in the most anti-Semitic category. The 1998 survey confirmed the findings of three earlier surveys with respect to the level of anti-Semitism in African American circles, whereas the percentage of Whites with comparable levels of anti-Semitic prejudice declined over time.

[4] The principal scholarly treatment of the outreach by HBCUs to Jewish refugee scholars, and of the contributions of those scholars to the schools that had rescued them, is Gabrielle Simon Edgcomb, From Swastika to Jim Crow: Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges (Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company, 1993).

[5] https://www.historynet.com/joined-together-by-empathy-historically-black-colleges-and-jewish-refugees-in-wwii.htm

[6] These words of tribute are quoted in John. H. Herz’s obituary, Washington Post, Jan. 25, 2006.

[7] “Rockefeller Foundation,” Transatlantic Perspectives, 2020, 11 Jul 2020 http://www.transatlanticperspectives.org/entry.php?rec=96.

[8] Charles Herbert Stember, Jews in the Mind of America (N.Y.: American Jewish Congress/Basic Books, 1966), p. 8.

[9] U.S. Holocaust Museum, https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/german-jewish-refugees-1933-1939; Miriam Intrator, “Jewish Refugee Scholars in America”, https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/jewish-refugee-scholars-in-america.

[10]  Stember, pp. 110-115.

[11] This did not immediately end with the Second World War. Many more Americans attended college after 1945, thanks to the G.I. Bill, and Jews among them. But quotas persisted. Two examples of this emerge from within the synagogue in Norfolk, Va., where I serve as rabbi: A 1953 graduate of the Medical College of Virginia dental school told me that of the 200 students in the four years of his cohort, eight were Jewish. A still older colleague, now deceased, who went to the same school in the 1930’s, changed his family name to one that was not obviously “Jewish-sounding” to enhance his chances of being accepted into dental school.

[12] Hampton University museum website.

[13] Heather Gilligan, “After Fleeing Nazis, many Jewish refugee professors found homes at historically black colleges,” https://timeline.com/jewish-professors-black-colleges-9a61d4603771; Dirk Struik, “Fritz Pappenheim 1902-1964”, http://www.autodidactproject.org/other/alienation_pappenheim.html#struik

[14] Brenda Flora, “50 Years/50 Collections: Gabrielle Simon Edgcomb and the Refugee Scholars of the HBCU”, Amistad Research Center, Tulane University, 2016.

[15] Ruth Ellen Gruber, Lore Rasmussen obituary, Feb. 1, 2009, https://www.jta.org/2009/02/01/united-states/lore-rasmussen-refugee-and-civil-rights-activist-dies/.

[16] Rahel Masleah, https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/jewish-refugee-scholars-at-black-colleges/.

[17] Annie Payton, “Ernst Borinski”, Mississippi Encyclopedia, http://mississippiencyclopedia.org/entries/ernst-borinski/.

[18] William H. Pruden III, “Georg Iggers (1926-2017)”, Encyclopedia of Arkansas https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/georg-iggers-13641/

[19] Andreas Daum, “Memorial: Georg G. Iggers 1926-2017”, in Central European History 51 (2018), pp. 335-353.

[20] Elana Schor, “Harris brings Baptist, interfaith roots to Democratic ticket”, Washington Post, August 12, 2020.

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Oct 14 2020

From Time to Time – Grußadresse der “Frauen für den Frieden”

Published by under From Time to Time

From Time to Time

History does not repeat itself,
But it certainly likes to rhyme.

 

Grußadresse der ehemaligen

 

Frauen für den Frieden Ost-Berlin

 

an die belarussischen Frauen

 

 

Liebe belarussische Frauen,

wir verfolgen Eure Aktionen mit größter Sympathie und Anteilnahme. Wir fühlen uns Euch sehr verbunden. Lasst Euch nicht entmutigen, auch wenn einige von Euch bereits außer Landes gedrängt wurden oder in Haft sitzen. Wir wenden uns an Euch als die ehemaligen „Frauen für den Frieden“ Ost-Berlin. Wir waren in den 1980er Jahren Teil der Opposition gegen die DDR-Staatsmacht. …

Liebe Frauen und auch Ihr Männer in Belarus – Ihr seid viele, Ihr seid mutig und Ihr seid kreativ. Bleibt mutig und stark für ein demokratisches Belarus!

 

Rommy Baumann-Sevim
Gudrun Birk-Gierke
Ute Delor
Elisabeth Gibbels
Beate Harembski-Henning
Almut Ilsen
Petra König
Tina Krone
Irena Kukutz
Ruth Leiserowitz
Barbe Maria Linke
Gisela Metz
Hannelore Offner
Ulrike Poppe
Bettina Rathenow
Jutta Seidel
Christa Sengespeick-Roos
Elke Westendorff

und die damaligen Unterstützerinnen aus der westeuropäischen Friedensbewegung Barbara Einhorn/END und Eva Quistorp/“Frauen für den Frieden“ West-Berlin…“

 

Den vollständigen Text finden Sie hier.

 

Lesen Sie auch die Presseerklärung der Stiftung Friedliche Revolution vom 12. Oktober 2020: PM_Demo_121020,

…und hier Beiträge über das Wirken von Freya Klier und einen Text über weibliche Revolutionärinnen.

 

 

Fortbestehende Gewalt in Belarus gegen friedlich Demonstrierende verurteilt

 

Stiftung Friedliche Revolution fordert Lukaschenko zum Dialog außerhalb von Gefängnismauern auf

 

Leipzig. Die Stiftung Friedliche Revolution hat die erneute Gewalt gegen friedlich Demonstrierende in Belarus verurteilt und Machthaber Aljaksandr Lukaschenko aufgefordert, sich endlich dem Dialog mit der Opposition über die Zukunft des Landes zu stellen. Ein solcher Dialog könne allerdings nur dort beginnen, „wo Menschen sich aus freiem Willen begegnen“, betont der Vorsitzende der Stiftung, Prof. Dr. Rainer Vor, am Montag in Leipzig.

Gespräche mit gefangenen Oppositionellen im Minsker KGB-Gefängnis stünden dazu völlig im Widerspruch. Erforderlich sei deshalb zuallererst, alle politischen Gefangenen freizulassen. „Erst dann kann am Runden Tisch über freie Wahlen und Rechtstaatlichkeit diskutiert werden“, fügt Vor hinzu. Entschieden verurteilt die Stiftung auch die neuerlichen Verhaftungen von Medienvertretern während der Demonstrationen an diesem Wochenende. Die Friedliche Revolution in der DDR vor nunmehr 31 Jahren habe gezeigt, welche Bedeutung eine unabhängige Berichterstattung der Medien habe.

Mit einer Demonstration durch Leipzigs Innenstadt hat die Stiftung am vergangenen Samstag ein Zeichen der Ermutigung und der Solidarität mit den Menschen in Belarus gesetzt. Dabei dankte der belarussische Dirigent Vitali Alekseenok für alle Unterstützung und Empathie. Das sei angesichts der eigenen Probleme durch die Corona-Pandemie alles andere als selbstverständlich.

Umso wichtiger sei für die Menschen, die in seiner Heimat seit Wochen friedlich für ein freies Land, für Demokratie und für Rechtsstaatlichkeit kämpfen, „dass die Stiftung Friedliche Revolution sich solidarisch mit den Protestierenden in Belarus erklärt und so auch einen Beitrag zu Menschlichkeit, Offenheit und Demokratie in so einem autokratischen Land wie Belarus leistet“, betonte Alekseenok, der seit 2017 das Abaco-Orchester der Universität München leitet.

Die sächsische Staatssekretärin Gesine Märtens verwies bei gleicher Gelegenheit darauf, dass es vor allem die belorussischen Frauen seien, die seit Wochen für Demokratie, Freiheit und Demokratie auf die Straße gingen. Sie protestierten und demonstrierten trotz der Bedrohung und der Gewalt weiter. „Sie brauchen unsere Unterstützung dafür! Aus Europa, aus Sachsen, aus Leipzig“, fügte sie hinzu.

Die Bundesregierung forderte sie auf, nicht nur besorgt zuzuschauen, sondern „den Staatsterror und die massiven Menschenrechtsverletzungen“ zu sanktionieren. Auch Lukaschenko müsse auf die EU-Sanktionsliste, denn er sei „für Morde an Regimekritiker/innen, für Verschleppungen, Verhaftungen, für Folter und sexualisierte Gewalt verantwortlich“, so Märtens.

 

Kontakt: Gesine Oltmanns, Vorstand/Projekte
Stiftung Friedliche Revolution
www.stiftung-fr.de
Tel. 0163 4881 895

 

Bitte finden Sie hier auch weitere englischsprachige Links zu dem Thema und hier eine Grußadresse von Bürgerrechtler*innen der ehemaligen DDR.

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Oct 03 2020

From Time to Time – Eine Revolution gegen die Angst

Published by under From Time to Time

From Time to Time

History does not repeat itself,
But it certainly likes to rhyme.

 

Eine Revolution gegen die Angst –

 

öffentliche Grußadresse an die

mutigen Demonstrant*innen in Belarus

 

 

A Revolution Against Fear

A message of solidarity by leading civil rights activists of the former German Democratic Republic to the courageous demonstrators for democracy in Belarus

This message was originally published in various media outlets in Europe and appeared in German, English, Russian and Belarus. We would like to thank Doris Liebermann of the PEN Center of German Speaking Writers Abroad for sharing this message with Glossen.

 

“Die Bilder und Nachrichten, die uns nun schon seit einigen Wochen aus Belarus erreichen, erinnern uns stark an das Jahr 1989. Sie rufen Erlebnisse und Erfahrungen wach. Auch wir standen lange einem aggressiv agierenden Staat gegenüber. Die gewaltsame Niederschlagung der friedlichen Proteste in Peking im Juni 1989 war uns ständig vor Augen, die Angst vor einer „chinesischen Lösung“ wurde täglicher Begleiter des Aufbegehrens gegen die Diktatur. Doch auf wundersame Weise verlief der Herbst 1989 weitgehend friedlich und ging als „Friedliche Revolution“ in die Geschichtsbücher ein.

Möglich wurde dies durch viele Mosaiksteine. Die Solidarność-Bewegung in Polen, die Charta 77 in der damaligen Tschechoslowakei, die Politik von Glasnost und Perestroika durch Michail Gorbatschow und die Aufarbeitungsgruppe „Memorial“ in der Sowjetunion, der Widerstand in den baltischen Staaten und die immer stärker werdende Zahl der Demonstrant*innen waren nur die wichtigsten Leuchtfeuer.

Den Großdemonstrationen in der DDR ging fraglos eine lange Opposition von Bürgerrechtsgruppen voraus. Zum Auslöser der Massenproteste wurde – so wie bei Ihnen in Belarus – das offensichtliche Fälschen von Wahlen durch die Staatsregierung. Die Schmerzgrenze war erreicht. In dieser Situation war für uns die Unterstützung durch westdeutsche Medien von größter Wichtigkeit.

Umso mehr wissen wir uns Ihnen in Ihrer weitaus schwierigeren Lage zutiefst und solidarisch verbunden. Bei Ihnen wird die freie Berichterstattung unterbunden, Journalist*innen werden inhaftiert, Demonstrant*innen sind Justizwillkür und Folterungen ausgesetzt. Die Gefahr des gezielten russischen Eingreifens ist nicht gebannt und die Unabhängigkeit von Belarus bedroht.

Ohnmachtserfahrungen sind auch uns nicht fremd. Mit großem Respekt verfolgen wir daher die mutigen Aktionen der Frauen und Männer, die Unerschütterlichkeit der Streikenden, die öffentliche Unterstützung z.B. durch die Literaturnobelpreisträgerin Swetlana Alexijewitsch.

Wir möchten Ihnen mit dieser Grußadresse Ermutigung und Ermunterung senden. Lassen Sie sich nicht einschüchtern! Streiten Sie weiter für ein demokratisches, freies und unabhängiges Belarus – trotz begründeter Angst.

Wir fordern den deutschen Außenminister auf, sich auch weiterhin klar und unmissverständlich für das Recht auf friedliche Demonstrationen und die sofortige Beendigung der aggressiven Staatsgewalt sowie für Verhandlungen u.a. mit dem gegründeten Koordinierungsrat (analog zu den Runden Tischen in Polen und der DDR) einzusetzen.

Wir fordern die Europäische Union auf, deutliche Schritte der Diplomatie zu gehen und beschlossene Sanktionen umgehend wirksam werden zu lassen.

Unsere gemeinsame Hoffnung für Belarus ist groß: „Für ein offenes Land mit freien Menschen“.”

 

Bürgerrechtler*innen der ehemaligen DDR

Stephan Bickhardt/Dresden, Wolf Biermann/Berlin, Marianne Birthler/Berlin, Roswitha Brennig/Berlin, Martin Böttger/Zwickau, Christian Dietrich/Erfurt, Frank Ebert/Berlin, Rainer Eckert/Berlin, Frank Eigenfeld/Halle (Saale), Katrin Eigenfeld/Kasnewitz, Petra Falkenberg/Berlin, Hans-Jürgen Fischbeck/Berlin, Katrin Hattenhauer/Berlin, Beate Harembski-Henning/Zühlsdorf b. Berlin, Gerold Hildebrand/Berlin, Ralf Hirsch/Berlin, Almut Ilsen/Berlin, Roland Jahn/Berlin, Gisela Kallenbach/Leipzig, Freya Klier/Berlin, Petra König/Berlin, Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk/Berlin, Doris Liebermann/Berlin, Heiko Lietz/Schwerin, Markus Meckel/Berlin, Gisela Metz/Berlin, Günter Nooke/Berlin, Maria Nooke/Berlin, Hannelore Offner/Berlin, Gesine Oltmanns/Leipzig, Liane Plotzitzka/Leipzig, Gerd Poppe/Berlin, Ulrike Poppe/Berlin, Bettina Rathenow/Berlin, Lutz Rathenow/Dresden/Berlin, Lothar Rochau/Halle (Saale), Bettina Röder/Berlin, Rüdiger Rosenthal/Fredersdorf, Jutta Seidel/Berlin, Tom Sello/Berlin, Rommy Baumann-Sevim/Berlin, Annette Simon/Berlin, Siegbert Schefke/Leipzig, Uwe Schwabe/Leipzig, Wolfgang Templin/Berlin, Kathrin-Mahler Walther/Berlin, Reinhard Weißhuhn/Berlin

 

Lesen Sie hier auch eine Grußadresse der ehemaligen Frauen für den Frieden Ost-Berlin an die belarussischen Frauen.

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Aug 26 2020

From Time to Time – (Hydroxy)Chloroquine

Published by under From Time to Time

From Time to Time

History does not repeat itself,
But it certainly likes to rhyme.

 

(Hydroxy)Chloroquine:

From Himmler’s Poison to Trump’s Miracle Cure

by Anna Rosmus

 

Throughout history, malaria has played a prominent role in the fate of nation-states and military actions.[1] World War II was no exception. The United States Army faced malaria, both at home and abroad. German troops contracted it in Greece, in the Pinsk marshes, and in North Africa.[2] Throughout WWII, an average of 100 German soldiers died per hour.[3]

Malaria was not to incapacitate millions more.[4] In 1934, when Hans Andersag worked for Bayer IG Farbenindustrie in Elberfeld, Germany, he discovered chloroquine (aka Resochin).[5] It was deemed too toxic for human use.[6] Two years later, Andersag developed Sontochin, a somewhat safer derivative.

On January 27, 1942, Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler spent five hours with his visitors, retired Professor Claus Schilling and Reichsärzteführer Leonardo Conti.[7] Afterwards, he provided Schilling with an experimental malaria research station at the Dachau concentration camp. Of an estimated 1,200 intentionally infected inmates, many were then injected with synthetic malaria drugs, “with high and sometimes lethal doses.”[8] At least 120 of these victims were priests.

When Himmler proposed adding an SS-institute exploring insects, the “Ahnenerbe“ organization established one directly east of the prisoners’ compound. New research suggests that dropping malaria-infected mosquitoes over enemy territory as biological weapons might have been the goal.

In 1946, during the first Nuremberg trial, Schilling admitted to have “inoculated between 900 and 1,000 prisoners.” They “were not volunteers.”[9] Hundreds of them died as a result of the experiment, and the military tribunal sentenced Schilling to death by hanging.[10] Buchenwald survivor Eugen Kogon mentioned the experiments in a 1946 book, and decades later, historian Ernst Klee quipped that a professor emeritus got an entire concentration camp as an experimental laboratory.

After Allied forces captured Tunis in May 1943, Jean Schneider, who carried out Sontochin trials for a Bayer partner in North Africa, offered his data and remaining drugs to U.S. troops.[11] Desperate to cure half a million of its own men incapacitated by malaria, the U.S. Government not only re-created Himmler’s research model, but increased it tenfold. A dozen strains of malaria were injected into mental health patients and convicted criminals.[12] Many more deaths later, chloroquine emerged as the best and least expensive antimalarial ever developed. Evidence dating back to World War II, suggesting that in some people chloroquine even causes psychosis, was basically ignored.

For decades, U.S. soldiers received the drug, either before they were stationed in tropical territories or after they returned with malaria. And before long, waves of tourists began to use Resochin. Many people suffered side effects such as shortness of breath, muscle weaknesses, hearing and mental problems. Others refused to take the medicine. In addition, malaria parasites became immune against the drug, and cheaper generics flooded the markets. In the end, only Pakistan produced chloroquine any more. In July 2019, the Bayer AG stopped merchandizing Resochin.

In September 2019, the Trump administration ended an early warning program that used to train scientists in sixty foreign laboratories (including one that shortly thereafter discovered the virus causing COVID-19) to respond to viruses with the potential to cause a pandemic.

Then, in early January 2020, National Security Council officials received warnings about the potential dangers from a new virus in Wuhan, China. The State Department’s epidemiologist warned that this virus could develop into a pandemic, and the National Center for Medical Intelligence agreed.[13]

On January 20, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported cases in China, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea. One day later, Vietnam, Singapore and Washington state announced their first case of COVID-19. On January 22nd, when asked whether he worries about a pandemic, Trump replied, “No. Not at all. And we have it totally under control.”[14] On February 27th, Trump added, “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.[15]

Whereas the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials repeatedly stated, it would take 12–18 months to develop a vaccine, on March 2nd, Trump claimed that a vaccine would be available “relatively soon.”[16] On March 17th, he added, “I’ve always known this is a real—this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic…”[17]

Trump has German roots[18] as does chloroquine. Trump became a tough salesman for chloroquine makers, promoting the antimalarial drug as a treatment for COVID-19. On March 19th, Bayer announced a donation of 3 million tablets of Resochin (chloroquine phosphate), until then not approved for use in the United States. On that day, Trump uttered, “But the nice part is, it’s been around for a long time, so we know that if it—if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody.”

Within days, of course, the old dangers resurfaced. On March 23rd, Nigeria reported its first cases of chloroquine poisoning.[19] In Arizona, a man fearing infection, died after swallowing “a form of chloroquine used to treat aquariums.”[20] His wife, who also took the drug, was in critical condition.

At that time, a Brasil hospital had started a clinical study. It was supposed to treat 440 COVID-19 patients. One group was to receive a high dosage of 600 mg chloroquine twice a day for ten days, the other, 450 mg once a day for five days, with a double dose on the first day. After three days, however, with merely the first 81 patients enrolled, the high dosage trial was stopped because several had either damaged their heart muscles or died of arrhythmia.[21]

On March 27th, a pensive President marveled, that this pandemic “was something nobody thought could happen… Nobody would have ever thought a thing like this could have happened.”[22]

One day later, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave in to pressure, “authorizing the emergency use of chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate, … when clinical trials are not available, or participation is not feasible…”[23] That triggered panic-buying in Africa and South Asia,[24] and all too many Americans became eager guinea pigs. Florida alone obtained nearly one million doses for its hospitals, although most of them did not want that drug.[25]

Where used, it quickly became evident that this drug poses a particular danger for people with heart, eye, liver and kidney problems, which are common among the elderly. In other words, those whom COVID-19 makes the sickest to begin with, are then also the most vulnerable by the side effects of chloroquine. Studying hospitalized veterans, for example, showed that the death rate actually increased among those treated with hydroxychloroquine.

On March 30th, the President told Fox News, “We inherited a broken test.” Of course, there could be no test before the new virus emerged. China first confirmed its existence on Dec. 31, 2019.[26] By early April, when the pandemic worsened, Trump blamed the media, Democratic state governors, the previous administration, China, and the World Health Organization.

On April 23rd, Karen M. Masterson, a professor of science journalism and author of  “The Malaria Project,” warned, “Trump’s salesmanship of chloroquine has dragged regular people into the medical sciences with too little experience to understand the consequences.” For details, she referred to “more than 500 boxes of archived materials I used… Chloroquine, especially, showed unpredictable side effects. Itchy hives. Vomiting. Severe diarrhea. Headaches. Bleached hair. Depression. Blurred vision. Suicidal thoughts. Nightmares. Trouble sleeping. Psychoses…”[27]

IV fluids for a single COVID-19 patient

 

On June 15th, the FDA reversed its course, revoking its emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19. By July 1st, it released “reports of serious heart rhythm problems…, blood and lymph system disorders, kidney injuries, and liver problems…”[28]

Despite record fatalities since then, during a 4th of July celebration, “with jets flying overhead and soldiers parachuting through the air,” Trump claimed that 99% of COVID-19 cases are “totally harmless”. When Stella Gwandiku-Ambe Immanuel claimed that hydroxychloroquine can cure COVID-19, and that face masks are as unnecessary as is social distancing, she quickly impressed him.[29]

The US has less than 5% of the world’s population, and approximately 25% of global deaths from COVID-19. That currently amounts to almost one thousand more Americans dying per day. During an interview with Axios on HBO, Trump conceded: “It is what it is.”[30]

 

 

[1] Russell, Paul F.: “Communicable diseases Malaria.” Medical Department of the United States Army in World War II. U.S. Army Medical Department. Office of Medical History. 2009

[2] By the time a Victory March was held in Tunis on May 20, 1943, for example, more than 250,000 German and Italian troops had been taken as prisoners of war.

[3] https://www.welt.de/geschichte/zweiter-weltkrieg/article140814551/Pro-Stunde-starben-100-deutsche-Soldaten.html

[4] https://www.welt.de/geschichte/zweiter-weltkrieg/article124921084/Himmlers-teuflisches-Interesse-am-Malaria-Erreger.html

[5] Andersag H, Breitner S, Jung H. March 1941. Quinoline compound and process of making the same. US Patent 2,233,970

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3393441/

[7] https://www.welt.de/geschichte/zweiter-weltkrieg/article124921084/Himmlers-teuflisches-Interesse-am-Malaria-Erreger.html

[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11234332/

[9] https://www.isglobal.org/en/healthisglobal/-/custom-blog-portlet/a-short-hi-story-of-malaria-darkness-and-light-part-3/91316/0

[10] https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1069345

[11] https://www.astmh.org/ASTMH/media/Documents/Presidential%20Addresses/1962-G-Robert-Coatney.pdf

[12] https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/315246/the-malaria-project-by-karen-m-masterson/

[13] Shear, Michael D.: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-takeaways.html

[14] Greenberg, Jon: Timeline: How Donald Trump responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

[15] Collinson, Stephen: https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/28/politics/donald-trump-coronavirus-miracle-stock-markets/index.html

[16] Paz, Christian: Politics: All the President’s Lies About the Coronavirus. The Atlantic, March 24, 2020

[17] Paz, Christian: Politics: All the President’s Lies About the Coronavirus. The Atlantic, March 24, 2020

[18] His grandparents, Friedrich Trump and wife Elisabeth, grew up in Kallstadt, in the Kingdom of Bavaria. Amid the anti-German sentiments sparked by World War II, their son Fred, however, claimed to be Swedish instead.

[19] https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/23/africa/chloroquine-trump-nigeria-intl/index.html

[20] https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/23/health/arizona-coronavirus-chloroquine-death/index.html

[21] Blasius, Helga: “Brasilianische Studie stoppt Hochdosis-Gabe von Chloroquin.Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung. April 16, 2020

[22] Paz, Christian: Politics: All the President’s Lies About the Coronavirus. The Atlantic, March 24, 2020

[23] https://www.fda.gov/media/136534/download

[24] To this day, malaria, commonly associated with poverty, accounts for some 200 million infections per year. One to two million people die, and many survivors suffer significant long-term consequences, including developmental and neurological impairment. (Fernando SD, Rodrigo C, Rajapakse S. 2010. The ‘hidden’ burden of malaria: cognitive impairment following infection. Malar. J. 9:366.)

[25] https://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2020/06/11/florida-ordered-1-million-doses-of-a-trump-touted-drug-hospitals-didnt-want-it-1292638

[26] It was the CDC’s first shipment of tests to states that contained tainted reagents. That, along with bureaucratic delays, did cost the U.S. several critical weeks.

[27] https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/04/23/hydroxychloroquine-malaria-big-pharma/

[28] https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-cautions-against-use-hydroxychloroquine-or-chloroquine-covid-19-outside-hospital-setting-or

[29] https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/29/politics/stella-immanuel-trump-doctor/index.html

[30] https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/04/politics/trump-covid-death-toll-is-what-it-is/index.html

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Aug 06 2020

From Time to Time – Pervasive Anti-Black Racism

Published by under From Time to Time

From Time to Time

History does not repeat itself,
But it certainly likes to rhyme.

 

IN THE FACE OF PERVASIVE ANTI-BLACK

RACISM, WHAT SHOULD JEWS SAY?

 

I. Hear the Words of a Refugee Rabbi, and be Inspired

by Rabbi Michael Panitz

 

Speakers at the March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963, including Rabbi Joachim Prinz (standing, second from left) and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (seated second from right).
Source of photo: Center for Jewish History, New York, NY. Photo Quest/Getty Images

 

We Americans are at an inflection point in our national history. Four centuries of racism have defined our country as a society that, for all its great accomplishments in the realm of freedom, has fallen tragically short of its potential. Our national legacy of racism has been sporadically challenged and partially redressed, but the original sin of the nation still distorts life in our country. Today, we are in the midst of a powerful wave of protest. Alas, some of the protesters themselves are guilty of anti-Semitic statements and actions. But the overarching question for us as American Jews is whether we will side with the racist establishment, or whether we will side with those who seek to dismantle that sinful edifice, even while engaging with them to raise their own consciousness of where they, too, fall short.

At these critical cross-roads, it is instructive for us to reexamine the history of our people’s involvement with the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-twentieth century. At our worst, we were silent or self-absorbed at that time. In the middle of the spectrum were those of us who felt sympathy for other oppressed souls, but who were simply too fearful of losing the tentative, partial tolerance extended to us to speak up. But at our best, we joined hands, black and white together; we marched; we reached across barriers and touched hearts; we made a difference that widened the horizons of opportunity for millions of our fellow-Americans.

Of the many moments in that era, the August 28, 1963 “March on Washington” is a high point. And of the many moments of that march, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” is the best remembered. King’s speech is justly celebrated as an Everest of American oratory and a prophetic call for America to become a better nation.

King was, nonetheless, not the only speaker that day. Do you know who spoke just before him, and what he said?

The speaker was Rabbi Joachim Prinz. Tomorrow, I will share with you the story of this amazing man and inspiring leader. For now, let his own words uplift you:

 

“I speak to you as an American Jew.”

 

“As Americans we share the profound concern of millions of people about the shame and disgrace of inequality and injustice which make a mockery of the great American idea.”

“As Jews we bring to this great demonstration, in which thousands of us proudly participate, a two-fold experience – one of the spirit and one of our history.”

“In the realm of the spirit, our fathers taught us thousands of years ago that when God created man, he created him as everybody’s neighbor. Neighbor is not a geographic term. It is a moral concept. It means our collective responsibility for the preservation of man’s dignity and integrity.”

“From our Jewish historic experience of three and a half thousand years we say:”

“Our ancient history began with slavery and the yearning for freedom. During the Middle Ages my people lived for a thousand years in the ghettos of Europe. Our modern history begins with a proclamation of emancipation.”

“It is for these reasons that it is not merely sympathy and compassion for the black people of America that motivates us. It is above all and beyond all such sympathies and emotions a sense of complete identification and solidarity born of our own painful historic experience.”

“When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”

“A great people which had created a great civilization had become a nation of silent onlookers. They remained silent in the face of hate, in the face of brutality and in the face of mass murder.

“America must not become a nation of onlookers. America must not remain silent. Not merely black America, but all of America. It must speak up and act, from the President down to the humblest of us, and not for the sake of the Negro, not for the sake of the black community but for the sake of the image, the idea and the aspiration of America itself.”

“Our children, yours and mine in every school across the land, each morning pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and to the republic for which it stands. They, the children, speak fervently and innocently of this land as the land of “liberty and justice for all.”

“The time, I believe, has come to work together – for it is not enough to hope together, and it is not enough to pray together, to work together that this children’s oath, pronounced every morning from Maine to California, from North to South, may become. a glorious, unshakeable reality in a morally.”

 

II. If You are not Standing with Moses, you are Standing with Pharaoh

 

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Aug. 28, 1963, viewed from the Lincoln Memorial

Photo Credits: Time Toast Timelines

Bayard Rustin (left) and Cleveland Robinson, photographed Aug. 7, 1963

Photo Credits: International Business Times

 

If the Bible were being written today, it would have used the language of “plagues” to describe our contemporary world’s experience. The plague of sea-level rise, inundating the coastal buildings that we have erected in our greed and our hubris; the plague of dead marine life washed ashore, killed by the plastic we have dumped into their watery home; the plague pulmonary disease, triggered by our short-sighted and reckless burning of hydrocarbons, which also blot out the sun with smog for days at a time, feel like the first nine plagues of the Exodus narrative. Now, the plague of COVID-19, most likely caused by our persistent encroachment upon the habitats of wild animals, feels like the tenth plague, claiming victims so that every household knows someone who has died.

But if the Bible were being written today, surely, it would include another sin and another plague: the sin of racism and the plague of murder of the weak by the powerful. The prophet Amos spoke of the wealthy and wicked, “trampling the heads of the poor into the dust of the ground” (Amos 2:7). Across the millennia, Amos’ words accuse the murderers of George Floyd.

Floyd was neither the first nor the last victim. But his murder, committed at a particular confluence of events and accumulated frustrations, has been the catalyst for sustained protests against racist violence. Incredibly, after so much fruitless protest in the past several decades, this time, the outcry has achieved speedy, if thus far mostly symbolic, victories. Monuments to racism have come down. Undoubtedly, racism endures. But for the first time in much of the past half century, it feels as if racism is on the defensive, not on the rise.

This striking historical development occasions a reexamination of the last time that a mass movement against racism in America yielded tangible successes, the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Is it possible, at last, to recapture some of the momentum of that electrifying yet evanescent era?

Consideration of this question is the context for remembering Rabbi Joachim Prinz’s address at the March on Washington, August 28, 1963. His speech, which was delivered just before the memorable “I have a dream” speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., received high acclaim within the Civil Rights community. Bayard Rustin, director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute and organizer of the 1963 March, made the provocative claim in 1965, “To my mind, the greatest speech made at the March on Washington, historically, philosophically, was not Dr. King’s but Rabbi Prinz’s…”[1] Today, we celebrate King’s words reverentially, and rightly so. But what was Rustin driving at?

Rustin’s question can be answered by considering why a rabbi—why this rabbi—was part of the day’s program, speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, just before Dr. King. His capsule biography provides the answer:

“Joachim Prinz was born in Burckhardtsdorf in Upper Silesia on May 10,1902. Invited to Berlin in January 1926, Prinz became the youngest ordained rabbi to serve the Jewish community of that city. During Hitler’s rise to power in the 1920s and until his departure from Germany in 1937, Prinz was a vocal and public critic of Nazism. Through his writings and speeches Prinz made numerous attacks on the Nazis, resulting in his being repeatedly arrested by the Gestapo…, Prinz was formally ordered to leave Germany in 1937… For the next two years Prinz toured the U.S. raising funds for the United Palestine Appeal while lecturing on European affairs. On September 9, 1939 Prinz was installed as rabbi of Temple B’nai Abraham in Newark (and later, Livingston), New Jersey… Prinz was active in social issues, including the civil rights movement throughout the 1960s, being one of ten founding chairmen of the 1963 march on Washington for civil rights… Earlier, in April 1960, Prinz led a picket line in front of a Woolworth store in New York City, protesting discrimination against African Americans at lunch counters in Southern states…”[2]

As a critic and victim of Nazism, Rabbi Prinz had the standing to speak about racism and injustice on a national scale. In his address, he spoke as both an American and as a Jew. Prinz connected his experiences as a target of racism in Germany with what was unfolding in the United States. He correctly emphasized that the entire nation was being called to take a stand. Standing with the victims of racism and mustering the courage to fight injustice was the way to meet the crisis of conscience of the entire society. Germans had failed that test. Some swallowed their misgivings; some strove to live quietly, all too many were “Hitler’s Willing Executioners”, and all too few were exemplars of moral courage. In America, Jews were being called upon to pass the test that history posed to the Germans. In this country, Jews, who were somewhat able to “pass as White,” had the temptation of remaining silent, but they were obligated not to do so. White Christians were no less called to the bar of conscience. Prinz was emphatic on this: “the most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”

That is what impressed Rustin to the point of his singling out the rabbi’s speech as the most importance utterance of the day of protest. The Civil Rights struggle could not succeed if it were a protest by Blacks alone. For it to succeed, its message needed to be amplified by White and Black voices in harmony. Blacks were crying out in pain. Whites needed to cry out in courage.

Of course, there were key differences between Germany in the 1930’s and America in the 1960’s, left unstated by Rabbi Prinz. Germany was totalitarian. In that respect, Germany was ruled by one more like a Pharaoh than like a president. Only Pharaoh could release the Israelites, and Pharaoh did not stand for election or reelection.

That difference made the choice of silence and quietism all the more culpable here. White Americans and Jewish Americans had less at risk, and therefore, all the less excuse to be on the wrong side of the ethical question of the day.

But even if Pharaoh was a closer fit to dictator than to democratically elected leader, the Bible’s key point still speaks to us as Americans. Since we can stand with Moses with less peril to our lives and our livelihoods, we should realize that standing off to the side is basically no better than standing with Pharaoh.

Prinz was not the only Jewish refugee from Nazism to engage Dr. King on the grounds of the shared message of the Bible for African Americans and for Jews. When Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Dr. King met for the first time, at a conference in Chicago sponsored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews, on the theme of “Religion and Race”, Heschel captured the hearts of those in attendance by evoking the shared sacred narrative that unites us: “At the first conference on religion and race, the main participants were Pharaoh and Moses… The outcome of that summit meeting has not come to an end. Pharaoh is not ready to capitulate. The exodus began but is far from having been completed. In fact, it was easier for the children of Israel to cross the Red Sea than for a Negro to cross certain university campuses.”

In his own, poetic language, Heschel made the same point as Prinz, a point that resonates today: You do not have the freedom to abstain from choosing. If you are not standing with Moses, you are standing with Pharaoh. Make the right choice.

 

Footnotes

[1] Bayard Rustin, “The Civil Rights Struggle,” Jewish Social Studies, #1 (1965), p. 36.

[2] “Joachim Prinz”, Civil Rights Digital Library

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Jul 12 2020

From Time to Time – Berliner Plauderbrief

Published by under From Time to Time

From Time to Time

History does not repeat itself,
But it certainly likes to rhyme.

 

Landestrauer

 

von Alfred Kerr

11. August 1901

 

Die zweite Kaiserin des neuen Reiches ist in das unentdeckte Land gezogen, aus dess’ Bezirk kein Wandrer wiederkehrt.[1] Berlin steht im Eindruck dieses schmerzlichen Vorgangs; und die Stimmung wird wohl auch draußen die gleiche sein. Die Verstorbene hat eine gesonderte Stellung eingenommen, was das innere Verhältnis der Nation zu ihr betrifft. Ihr gegenüber waren die Gefühle nicht alltäglich: sie hatte besonders glühende Verehrer, und es gab andererseits Leute, die sie mit Nachdruck befehdeten. Aber beides, die große Zuneigung und die stille Abneigung, floss zuletzt ineinander in einziges Gefühl der Ehrfurcht vor den tiefen Schmerzen, die sie erfahren. Da wurden alle einig. Sie war die Kaiserin der Schmerzen.

Es ist hier auf zwei Parteien angespielt worden. Es ist nicht einzusehen, warum am Sarge einer so klugen Frau diese Dinge nicht erörtert werden sollten, da sie doch in der Wirklichkeit einmal bestanden haben. Die zwei Parteien sind nicht als politische Fraktionen gesondert. Dennoch spielen selbstverständlich politische Motive hinein. Man weiß, daß die Anhänger einer freiheitlichen Weltanschauung besonders viel von Friedrich III. und seiner Gemahlin erwarteten. Aus diesem Grunde wurde die tote Kaiserin, die vielleicht in der Ehe der entschlossenere Teil war, von einem verhältnismäßig kleinen Schwarm auf den Schild erhoben. Auf der anderen Seite standen Die, welche aus dem gleichen Grunde ängstlich waren. Sie sahen vor allem in ihr die Britin. Ich entsinne mich aus meiner Studentenzeit, welche Äußerungen man damals hören konnte, als die Kronprinzessin den Kaiserthron bestiegen hatte. Ich war oft genug verwundert. Besonders aber, als meine alte Wirtin eines Tages vor mich hin trat und ihrem Herzen Luft machte. Ich weiß nicht, welche Zeitungsnachricht sie gelesen hatte. Die Frau war sonst von friedlichem Charakter, und ich hatte niemals Exzesse an ihr bemerkt. Aber jetzt legte sie los – mit einer verblüffenden Leidenschaft. Ich erlebte denselben Vorgang anderwärts. Immer galt die gekrönte Frau als Engländerin, nur als Engländerin. Und das, scheint mir, war ein Unrecht.

Die Kaiserin Viktoria hat ihre Pflicht gegen das deutsche Volk niemals versäumt. Gewiß war sie in England geboren und groß geworden. Sie hat bis in die späte Zeit hinein eine Vorliebe für ihr Vaterland und seine Bewohner bewahrt, – aber das ist kein Verbrechen; es ist ein natürlicher Zug, und man hätte nur dann Grund gehabt, sich darüber zu beklagen, wenn es uns Nachteile geschafft haben würde. Wir Deutsche haben leider den Drang, in fremden Ländern allzuleicht die Heimat zu verleugnen, – das ist hundertmal gesagt und gedruckt worden, und vielleicht sind wir in Folge dessen heut auf dem Wege der Einkehr und lassen unsere Nationalität nicht so leicht fahren. Man soll aber auch Anderen keinen Vorwurf machen, wenn sie die ihrige nicht ohne Weiteres preisgeben. Wir würden es der Schwester des gegenwärtigen Kaisers sehr verargen, wenn sie in Griechenland Preußen vergäße! Und was würden wir von der schönen Frau auf dem russischen Thron denken, wenn sie für immer ihre holde Darmstädter Jugend zum alten Eisen werfen wollte? Beide haben Pflichten in dem neuen Lande und gegen das neue Volk, und diese Pflichten müssen sie freudig erfüllen. Die verstorbene Kaiserin hat sie erfüllt. Sie hat auf deutschem Boden die höchsten Höhen und die tiefsten Tiefen ihres Empfindens durchlebt, und sie wird in deutscher Erde schlafen. Sie ist eine Deutsche – von englischer Abkunft. Heute, wo die Leidenschaften schweigen und die Herzen milder urteilen und die Augen freier sehen, heute wird ihr kein alter und kein junger Heißsporn mehr grollen, daß sie die Anhänglichkeit an ihr Geburtsland nicht verlor.

Die Beisetzung der Kaiserin Friedrich am 13. August 1901 in Potsdam.
Zeichnung für die Illustrierte „Die Woche“ von Paul Brockmüller. 

Auch das wird kein Heißsporn mehr bemängeln, daß sie auf eigene Hand Bismarcks äußere Politik durchkreuzt habe. Zunächst ließ er sich nicht so leicht was durchkreuzen. Und zweitens, ist es nicht ungerecht, gerade der Kaiserin Friedrich und ihr allein wegen solchen Einmischens Vorhaltungen zu machen? In der Zwischenzeit sind Bismarcks Memoiren erschienen, worin er schildert, wie der große Kampf seines großen Lebens durch die alte Kaiserin Augusta erschwert wurde, wie er fast das halbe Maß seiner Energie darauf verwenden mußte, ihre Einmischung, ihre abweichenden Ziele zu bekämpfen. Mehr hat auch die Kaiserin Friedrich nicht getan. Wahrscheinlich sogar weniger.

Aber noch einmal: es ist fast unnütz, diese gescheite und edle Frau noch gegen irgendjemand heute zu verteidigen; denn nicht erst ihr Tod – die ganzen dreizehn Jahre und ihr gehäuftes Leid haben rauhe und zweifelnde Patrioten verstummen lassen und versöhnt. Wenn sie heut in unserem Gedenken vor allem als die Trösterin und Gefährtin des heimgegangen Frühlingskaisers dasteht, so erinnern wir uns leise an ein kleines Gedicht von Theodor Fontane. Dieser wundervolle Alte hat nicht nur bei Bismarcks Tod das beste dichterische Wort gesprochen; er hat auch das beste gesagt, als Friedrich starb. Er schildert die letzte Fahrt des Kaisers. Der Kranke wünscht sich, noch einmal Alt-Geltow zu sehen. „Und Ihr kommt mit“, spricht er zu seiner Frau, „die Kinder und Du“. Als sie in das Dorf gekommen sind, tritt er in die stille Kirche im Sonnenschein, und er spricht:

 

Wie gern
Vernahm’ ich noch einmal „Lobe den Herrn“:
Den Lehrer im Feld ich mag ihn nicht stören,
Vicky, laß Du das Lied mich hören.

 

Da spielt sie auf der Orgel den Choral, und der Kranke glaubt die Gestalt des Menschensohns zu erkennen, der ihm entgegen tritt und die Siegerworte verkündet, er werde die Krone des Lebens davontragen, – lobe den mächtigen König der Erden.

 

Die Hände gefaltet, den Kopf geneigt,
So lauscht er der Stimme.
Die Orgel schweigt

 

Es ist schön, daß in diesem herrlichen Gedicht die liebreiche und treue Frau eine Stätte gefunden hat; und gerade in der Rolle, die ihr am besten stand: als die letzte Stütze, die letzte Freundin und die letzte Freude des edlen Kaisers. Orgelspielend in der Kirche von Alt-Geltow, – so wird sie durch die Dichtung in die Zukunft einziehen; und zwei leuchtende Züge ihres Wesens treten aus dem Bild hervor: ihre tapfere Güte und zugleich ihre Neigung zur Kunst.

Grade die Künstler sind aber durch den Tod der Herrscherin in einen Leidenszustand versetzt worden, der nicht nur die Gefühle der Trauer um die Heimgegangene enthält. Es mischt sich leider die private Sorge hinein; denn in Folge der angeordneten Landestrauer[2] sind zehntausend Musiker, Schauspieler, Sänger und wer sonst diesen Berufen nahe steht, zu Geldverlusten, wenn nicht zum Verlust der Existenz gebracht worden. Es ist schmerzlich, am öffnen Sarge solche Fragen erörtern zu müssen, aber in Berlin hat die Maßregel einen so starken Eindruck erzeugt, daß man kaum darüber hinwegkommt. Sie ist zweifellos in der besten Absicht erlassen worden. Aber man fragt doch: warum sollen gerade diese zehntausend Bürger, die nicht immer glänzend gestellt sind, in der allgemeinen Trauer wirtschaftlich leiden? Wenn der Staat verlangt, daß Theatervorstellungen und Konzerte eine Woche hindurch nicht stattfinden, so wäre es nur billig, wenn er den Ausfall ersetzt; und vielleicht gewährt das Parlament nachträglich die Mittel. Will aber der Staat keine Entschädigung geben, so wäre dringend zu wünschen, daß entweder das Verbot sich nur auf den Beerdigungstag in künftigen Fällen erstrecke, – oder daß man die Trauerwoche in der Behandlung dem Totensonntag gleichstellt, daß also ernste Aufführungen nicht gehindert werden. Stört man denn unsere Trauer durch die Darbietung einer Beethovenschen Sinfonie, eines Goetheschen Dramas? Ich glaube nicht. Und andererseits kann man fragen: wird die Trauer erhöht durch das Verbot? Ich glaube nicht. Es bedarf dessen kaum. Wer in Berlin nur die Schaufenster der wichtigeren Straßen mit ihrem Sterbeschmuck und verhüllenden Trauerfloren erblickt, der sieht, wie man auch ohne besondere Anordnung die tote Herrscherin zu ehren weiß. Diese Anordnung beruht zweifellos auf gesetzlicher Befugnis, und wer sie erlassen hat, ist in vollem Recht. Aber wenn nicht alle Zeichen trügen, wird man auf dieses Recht künftig weniger Gewicht legen oder es mit Einschränkungen handhaben – und die Toten werden dabei nicht in ihrer Ehrung verkürzt werden.

Denn eine noch größere Ehrung als die Landestrauer ist ja die Trauer des Landes.

 

Alfred Kerr (1932) © Robert Sennecke | Bibiothèque nationale de France

Alfred Kerr, 1867 in Breslau geboren und 1948 in Hamburg gestorben, gehört zu den bedeutendsten deutschen Theaterkritikern. Bereits während seines Studiums der Geschichte, Philosophie und Germanistik in Halle, das er 1894 mit der Promotion zum Dr. phil abschloss, begann er Kritiken zu schreiben. Von 1900 bis 1919 war er Theaterkritiker der Berliner Zeitung „Der Tag“, von 1919 bis 1933 Theaterkritiker des „Berliner Tageblatts“. 1933 wurden Kerrs Bücher und Schriften verbrannt, er selbst im August 1933 ausgebürgert. Bereits im Februar 1933 war er, von einem Polizisten gewarnt, sein Pass würde eingezogen, nach Prag geflohen. Über die Schweiz und Paris gelangte er mit seiner Familie schließlich nach Großbritannien und erhielt 1947 die britische Staatsbürgerschaft. 1948 starb Alfred Kerr in Hamburg, wo er sich im Rahmen einer Vortragsreise aufhielt.

 

Der Text erschien am 11. August 1901 in der „Königsberger Allgemeinen Zeitung“, für die Kerr unter der Überschrift „Berliner Plauderbrief“ von 1897 bis 1922 sonntägliche Feuilletons schrieb. Kerr-Biographin Deborah Vietor-Engländer hat die Texte wiederentdeckt und bereitet eine Edition vor, die 2021 im Wallstein-Verlag erscheinen soll. Wir danken Deborah Vietor-Engländer, dass sie uns auf den Brief aufmerksam gemacht und zur Veröffentlichung zur Verfügung gestellt hat.

 

 

 

Notes

[1] Kaiserin Friedrich geboren am 21. November 1840 in London. starb am 5. August 1901 auf Schloss Friedrichs-hof bei Kronberg im Taunus.  Ihre Mutter war am 22. Januar 1901 gestorben. Sie war das erste Kind von Queen Victoria und Prinz Albert, wuchs geliebt und behütet auf, hochbegabt und wissbegierig. Mit 17 Jahren heiratete sie den neun Jahre älteren, blendend aussehenden preußischen Kronprinzen Friedrich, der politisch ähnlich liberal und idealistisch dachte wie Vicky. Die beiden führten eine glückliche Ehe. Vicky gebar vier Söhne und vier Töchter zwischen 1859 und 1872.  Ihren ersten Sohn, den späteren Kaiser Wilhelm II., gebar sie unter stunden-langen grässlichen Qualen. Der Thronfolger trug Geburtsschäden davon, die für die deutsche Geschichte folgen-schwer waren. Sein linker Arm war gelähmt. Vicky und Kronprinz Friedrich waren auf ihre Regierungs-aufgaben glänzend vorbereitet – 30 Jahre lang warteten sie ungeduldig darauf, in Preußen bzw. (ab 1871) im säbel-rasselnden, chauvinistischen deutschen Kaiserreich eine liberale, fortschrittliche Politik einzuführen. Als Kaiser Wilhelm I. 1888 mit 91 Jahren starb, war Friedrich bereits todkrank – er regierte in diesem “Dreikaiser-jahr” nur 99 Tage lang, dann folgte ihm sein militaristisch eingestellter Sohn Wilhelm II. Bismarck polemisierte und intrigierte zeitlebens mit Gusto gegen das Kronprinzenpaar, und als Friedrich unter fürchterlichen Qualen gestorben war, setzte Vickys Sohn Wilhelm die Demütigungen systematisch fort. Vicky baute sich in Kronberg im Taunus ihren Alterssitz “Friedrichshof”, so zentral gelegen, dass die durchreisenden königlichen Hoheiten Europas, fast alle irgendwie mit ihr verwandt, gern und oft bei ihr Station machten. Vicky las, studierte, malte und war karitativ tätig – ein an allem höchst lebhaft interessierter Geist, ganz im Gegensatz zu ihrem Ältesten, der sich auf nichts längere Zeit konzentrieren konnte und zwanghaft eine leere Betriebsamkeit mit militärischem Gepränge entfaltete. 1899 erkrankte die Kaiserin an Brustkrebs. Vor ihrem Tod schickte sie einen Teil ihrer Papiere nach England. Die Krankheit verlief wie die ihres Mannes außerordentlich qualvoll – Mutter Victoria schickte einen Arzt mit reichlich Morphium, aber Wilhelm entschied, dass ein englischer Arzt mit der Ehre der deutschen Medizin nicht vereinbar sei. Die deutschen Ärzte gaben Morphium nur in winzigen Mengen, so dass Victoria monatelang unerträgliche Schmerzen litt.  Nach ihrem Tod schickte Kaiser Wilhelm Soldaten nach Friedrichshof, um ihre Papiere zu beschlagnahmen, aber weitere zwei Kisten waren bereits bei einem Engländer in Verwahrung, Frederick Ponsonby gab 1928 eine Auswahl ihrer Briefe heraus. Wilhelm II versuchte die Veröffentlichung aus seinem Doorner Exil zu verhindern, was ihm nicht gelang. Kerr war einer der wenigen, der sie wirklich würdigte.

[2] Kaiser Wilhelm II ordnete eine Landestrauer von sechs Wochen an. Bis zur Beisetzung der Kaiserin durften keine „öffentliche Musik, Lustbarkeiten und Schauspielvorstellungen“ stattfinden.

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Jul 12 2020

From Time to Time – New Series

Published by under From Time to Time

From Time to Time

History does not repeat itself
but it certainly likes to rhyme.

 

Wir leben in sehr bewegten Zeiten. Die globale Covid-19-Pandemie, die damit zusammenhängende und sich international immer weiter ausbreitende Wirtschaftskrise und schließlich die wiederbelebte Bürgerrechtsbewegung in den Vereinigten Staaten und weit darüber hinaus beginnen die sozialen, ökonomischen und kulturellen Infrastrukturen unserer moderner Gesellschaften mehr und mehr zu verschieben und zu verändern. In Anbetracht dieser komplexen Wandlungsprozesse beginnt Glossen, in einer Serie seiner Rubrik „Recent Posts“ Texte zu veröffentlichen, in denen sich die Veränderungen der Gegenwart in den Ereignissen der Vergangenheit auf bezeichnende Art und Weise widerspiegeln.

Den Anfang macht ein Essay von Alfred Kerr, dem bekannten Kritiker der Weimarer Republik, zum Thema „Staatstrauer“ am Anfang des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts im Wilhelminischen Kaiserreich. Die in diesem Text beschriebene Staatstrauer, die dem Autor zufolge Scharen von Kunstschaffenden arbeitslos macht, antizipiert die Situation heutiger Künstler, die auf Grund geschlossener Theater und zahlreicher anderer künstlerischer Wirkungsstätten zunehmend in wirtschaftliche Not zu geraten drohen. Wir sind Prof. Deborah Vietor-Engländer, der großen Alfred-Kerr-Expertin und Präsidentin der deutschen Alfred-Kerr-Gesellschaft sehr dankbar, uns auf diesen Text aufmerksam gemacht zu haben.

Dieses Projekt wird in Zusammenarbeit mit dem PEN-Zentrum deutschsprachiger Autoren im Ausland entwickelt, der Nachfolge-Organisation des ehemaligen Exil-PEN, das in naher Zukunft eine ähnliche Serie lancieren wird, in der Leben und Werk einzelner Autoren aus der ehemaligen Emigrantengeneration vorgestellt und damit erneut in Erinnerung gerufen werden. In diesem Zusammenhang möchten wir auch unsere Leser ermuntern, uns auf geeignete literarische Texte aus früheren Zeiten aufmerksam zu machen, die heutige Entwicklungen auf anschauliche Weise darstellen und vorwegnehmen. Und wenn sie sich eignen, werden wir sie gerne in dieser Serie veröffentlichen.

 

Frederick Lubich, Managing Editor

Janine Ludwig, Online Editor

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