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Since Saturday they have been gathering up Berlin’s Jews; in the evening around 9:15 they are collected and locked up for the night in a synagogue. And then there is the matter of what they are allowed to carry with them as they are shipped off for Lodz and Smolensk. They want to avoid our seeing how they are left to rot starving and in the cold here—that will happen in Lodz and Smolensk. An acquaintance of Kiep saw how one Jew collapsed on the street; when she tried to help him back to his feet, a policeman stepped in between them, warned her off and kicked the poor body lying in the street, sending it rolling into the gutter. Then, motivated perhaps by a tiny residue of shame for his hideous act, he turned to the lady and said “This is what they order us to do.”
Is it possible to know that such things as this occur and go about one’s business undisturbed? What gives one the right to ignore them? Is it not in fact unavoidable that the day will come when we, too, are kicked and sent rolling into the gutter? These are all the warning signs of the approaching storm. If only I could rid myself of the terrible sense that I have allowed myself to be corrupted, that I fail to react with the moral rage that these offenses demand, that they torment me without a spontaneous reaction.
–Helmuth James Count von Moltke, letter to his wife Freya, Oct. 21, 1941 in: Briefe an Freya: 1939-1945, p. 307-08 (S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”