I escaped Nazi Germany. I see its ideology alive in America today | KUOW News and Information

I escaped Nazi Germany. I see its ideology alive in America today

Dec 30, 2016

A call to action:

I was born in Munich, Germany, in 1920. I lived there during the rise of the Nazi Party and left for the U.S.A. in 1938. 

The main elements of the Nazi regime were the suppression of dissent, the purging of the dissenters and undesirables, the persecution of communists, Jews and homosexuals and the ideal of the Aryans as the master race. 

The policies started immediately after Hitler came to power, at first out of sight but escalated gradually, leading to the Second World War and the Holocaust. Meanwhile most Germans were lulled into complacency by all sorts of wonderful projects and benefits. 

What we see now in our country is very similar to the early days of the Nazi rule in Germany: 

The Neo-Nazis and the KKK have become more prominent and get recognition in the press. We are all familiar with Trump's remarks against all Muslims and all Mexicans. But there has not been anything as alarming as the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump's chief strategist. Bannon has, apparently, made anti-Semitic remarks for years, has recently condemned Muslims and Jews, and he and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the pick as national security advisor, advocate the political and cultural superiority of the white race. At the same time Trump is trying to control the press. 

Thus the entire Nazi ideology is in place already in and around the new government. How far will it get? We can hope that our government of checks and balances will be more resistant than the Weimar Republic was. Don't count on it. 

We have to counter this trend toward Fascism in every way we can. Being alert to all manifestations in word and action. Alerting our representatives and urging them to act. Writing to newspapers. Making our friends aware. Demonstrating when appropriate. 

Franz W. Wassermann, M.D.

Franz W. Wassermann is a retired psychiatrist who lives in Seattle. He shared his story recently with columnist Jerry Large of the Seattle TimesThe Seattle Story Project is an ongoing compilation of first-person reflections published at KUOW.org. To submit a story or note one you've seen that deserves more notice, contact Isolde Raftery at iraftery@kuow.org or 206.616.2035.