A thought provoking article, link here.
Here's what she said:
To the student body of Germany:
History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas. Tyrants have tried to do that often before, and the ideas have risen up in their might and destroyed them.
You can burn my books and the books of the best minds in Europe, but the ideas in them have seeped through a million channels and will continue to quicken other minds. I gave all the royalties of my books for all time to the German soldiers blinded in the World War with no thought in my heart but love and compassion for the German people.
I acknowledge the grievous complications that have led to your intolerance; all the more do I deplore the injustice and unwisdom of passing on to unborn generations the stigma of your deeds.
Do not imagine that your barbarities to the Jews are unknown here. God sleepeth not, and He will visit His judgment upon you. Better were it for you to have a mill-stone hung around your neck and sink into the sea than to be hated and despised of all men.
What about Nazis has closer meaning to my family? I don't believe any of my parents' or their parents were interested in the ideology of Nazism...but I don't really know. The 1933-34 era had a lot of nationalism, militarism, and racism going around. So this post is my attempt to figure out some way my parents might have been thinking before the onset of the Nazi atrocities in Europe, which eventually led to the US getting into WW II.
I looked back at my mother's yearbook photo from when she was in a women's marching ROTC group in a Texas high school, that wore a hat with a swastika image on it. I kind of thought about it before, but when I posted her picture for Mother's Day last week, I thought more about it.
I covered some of her year book photos on this blog HERE.
Why would military groups of high school students choose the emblem of those people's views? Wait wait, the Nazis had just started! See the book burning clip above. My mother probably didn't see that at the time in newsreels on Saturday matinee's, or did she?
It was before many of the horrible Nazi atrocities, most of which were not part of the news for Americans, at least for maybe eight more years. There were many politicians against America becoming involved in another European war after The Great War.
It was a time of nationalism in the US which included (shudder) many ideologies of purity of race, religion and anything that divided people from each other. The Great War had been fought back before 1920, and these young people had just been born during that war, and their teachers may have survived it. But it was fought for different reasons than the European conflicts that were soon to come from Nazis.
The Great War was probably being taught as modern history in the high schools, and my guess is that it would have focused upon the battles in which any Americans might have fared well, as well as some mention of the thousands who died in trenches.
More ideas as to why the swastika was used, even if they did know of a Nazi connection... the fact that my mother's grandfather was of German stock...and many people in San Antonio had been early settlers from Germany when Texas was first settled in the mid nineteenth century. In case you didn't know that...
German immigrants started to arrive [in Texas] in the early 1840s because of negative economic, social and political pressures in Germany. In 1842, German nobles organized the Adelsverein, banding together to buy land in central Texas to enable German settlement. The Revolutions of 1848 acted as a catalyst for so many immigrants that they became known as the "Forty-Eighters." Many were educated artisans and businessmen. Germans continued to arrive in considerable numbers until 1890.Source;
- Jordan, Terry G. (1966). German Seed in Texas Soil: Immigrant Farmers in Nineteenth-century Texas. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-72707-0.
Jefferson High School moved into a new building just before my mother's last two years of a three year high school. (My dad was in that same ROTC as well, I just don't have any photos of him in uniform.) She went to a college for a year, I remember her saying. I imagine the German families of San Antonio belonged to German social groups, just like the Hispanic ones did. But perhaps they also wanted to forget that they were German after the Great War.
And don't forget, before the Nazis used the swastika as their emblem, it was called the running cross and had been used for millennia as a design by both Native Americans, eastern religions and many other designers, including many Christian churches.
In the Western world, the symbol experienced a resurgence following the archaeological work in the late 19th century of Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered the symbol in the site of ancient Troy and associated it with the ancient migrations of Proto-Indo-Europeans... He connected it with similar shapes found on ancient pots in Germany, and theorized that the swastika was a "significant religious symbol of our remote ancestors", linking Germanic, Greek and Indo-Iranian cultures. By the early 20th century, it was used worldwide and was regarded as a symbol of good luck and success.
The work of Schliemann soon became intertwined with the völkisch movements, for which the swastika was a symbol of the "Aryan race", a concept that came to be equated by theorists such as Alfred Rosenberg with a Nordic master race originating in northern Europe. Since its adoption by the Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler, the swastika has been associated with Nazism, fascism, racism in its (white supremacy) form, the Axis powers in World War II, and the Holocaust in much of the West. The swastika remains a core symbol of Neo-Nazi groups.Source:
- Schliemann, H, Troy and its remains, London: Murray, 1875, pp. 102, 119-20.
- Boxer, Sarah (2000-06-29). "One of the World's Great Symbols Strives for a Comeback". Think Tank. The New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
So that's the update on my mother's group of women ROTC marchers, and a bit of the Swastika history. Wikipedia has a lot more interesting history over HERE.
And in case you haven't ever read my blog before, I am about as far removed from being a neo-Nazi as anyone can be, so don't get confused by my mom's uniform! I'm imagining that high school students were ok to use a symbol for good luck and success, and that they could not have had fore-knowledge of what was to come.
EDITORS NOTE: I just had a comment (May 17 evening) from another Sepia Saturday blogger, who gave me a great link to articles about the San Antonio high school's use of the swastika, and a US Army Division in Oklahoma which used it as well. Thanks Mike! Here's one of the links (and his comment is also published on the blog as well!) Other link including the San Antonio High Schools here.
Adding this to Sepia Saturday, a bit early this week...HERE.
The real reason is that I've spent several hours looking things up, and I usually do that for my Saturday posts...so even though I'm far from on topic, here it is. Looking at the topic, can you blame me?