Disturbing family stories

It's really been great having my mom's sister, Wilhelmina, here this week. She's been going through boxes of my mom's photos and telling us lots of fun stories. The kind every family has in its background.

Last night, however, the stories turned to World War II and the holocaust. I had heard some of these stories before, but I was interested in hearing them again.

As you might know, my mom is German. She was born in 1940 and lived near the Black Forest in southwestern Germany near the Swiss border.

My mom's sister (we call her Purzel, which is a nickname she received from her father who called her "my little Purzelie" — it stands for doing a summersault, she had tumbled and was laughing instead of crying) told us about how her mom (my grandmother) had stood up to the Nazis and had faced scorn from her family. How did she do that?

Well, every German family who had four or more children was given a medal for bearing children for the "fatherland."

My mom's mom publicly denied that medal several times telling officials "I bear my children for God, not for Hitler." Purzel told us that my grandmother even forced the mayor of her town to come to her home and offer the medal to her, and further rebuffed his attempts. By then she had added an economic component onto her denials, pointing to the small pile of coal she, and other families in their communities, had to heat her home and said something like "when you get all of us enough coal to heat our homes then you can come back here and offer that medal to me again."

Now, in today's world that doesn't seem to be very dangerous speech, but then Purzel added some context to the story.

My grandfather was one of the first in his communities to witness the atrocities personally. He told my grandmother that he had seen Jewish people being forced to dig their own graves and then being forced to shoot each other. Long before those stories were officially known.

He was later arrested for speaking out about this in Switzerland (he was released because not every Nazi was a bad Nazi, Purzel told us, and one of the nice ones stood up for my grandfather saying "Mr. Bolanz would never say such things" and released him).

So, telling the mayor of your town (among other officials) to go pound sand was very dangerous and could have caused grave consequences to come down on the family.

Her decision caused a split in the family and in the community that never was healed. Some family members never forgave her for putting them in danger. Community friends never talked with her again after that.

Last night we talked with Purzel about how that experience had changed her outlook (she and my mom were only a few years old during the war, but what happened then has caused deep beliefs in both of them, which today get passed along to the next generations as stories). She is very anti-military. She told when she visited Israel that she wouldn't even go into a military elevator, which astonished her hosts. She also has very little national pride.

She said my grandfather would never speak with her about the war because she said he had been heartbroken. He saw his country do horrible things.

Purzel didn't know I was going to blog these stories. We were just talking as a family. She wanted to make sure we never forgot and was pleading with us to fight against misuse of power, particularly military power, and particularly against minorities.

She can't understand why these kinds of human atrocities still go on even to this day.

Me neither, Purzel, me neither.

Comments

  1. Wow. Quite a touching story. That must have been quite an experience. Make sure to keep the memories of your family alive, Robert!

  2. Wow. Quite a touching story. That must have been quite an experience. Make sure to keep the memories of your family alive, Robert!

  3. Amazing story, we need more people like her to come forward and tell these stories so our future generations never forget.

  4. Amazing story, we need more people like her to come forward and tell these stories so our future generations never forget.

  5. Curious I am, Robert. What town is your mother from? My father was born in Minseln, near Rheinfelden, on the Swiss border. Later, he moved to Durlach (now a part of Karlsruhe) before coming to the US in 1929.

  6. Curious I am, Robert. What town is your mother from? My father was born in Minseln, near Rheinfelden, on the Swiss border. Later, he moved to Durlach (now a part of Karlsruhe) before coming to the US in 1929.

  7. Robert, the question about why these atrocities go on cuts to the root of the nature of evil, and the capability of humans to be greedy, petty and evil.

    Without going off into a philosophical tangent, I’ll just point out that bad guys do exist in this world, and reflexive anti-militarism does not help: it was military might that finally vanished Hitler, and it is the _lack_ of force today that lets the Janjaweed slaughter thousands in Darfur (to give but one example) …

    Best wishes to you and all your family at this difficult time.

  8. Robert, the question about why these atrocities go on cuts to the root of the nature of evil, and the capability of humans to be greedy, petty and evil.

    Without going off into a philosophical tangent, I’ll just point out that bad guys do exist in this world, and reflexive anti-militarism does not help: it was military might that finally vanished Hitler, and it is the _lack_ of force today that lets the Janjaweed slaughter thousands in Darfur (to give but one example) …

    Best wishes to you and all your family at this difficult time.

  9. That is a very interesting story. I hope you got it on your iPod or something. Stories like those are ones you want to preserve and tell for future generations. What better place than a blog or PodCast… Just a thought…

    I wish I had some of the stories from my grandmother or grandfather. Luckily my Mom’s great aunt is still alive at 102. So need one of those nice shiny new media players and start recording.

  10. That is a very interesting story. I hope you got it on your iPod or something. Stories like those are ones you want to preserve and tell for future generations. What better place than a blog or PodCast… Just a thought…

    I wish I had some of the stories from my grandmother or grandfather. Luckily my Mom’s great aunt is still alive at 102. So need one of those nice shiny new media players and start recording.

  11. Very touching and interesting stories. You give a side of WW II and Germany — the potential divisiveness among families — caused by people standing up.

    We definitely should applaud your grandmother and grandfather.
    Mike

  12. Very touching and interesting stories. You give a side of WW II and Germany — the potential divisiveness among families — caused by people standing up.

    We definitely should applaud your grandmother and grandfather.
    Mike

  13. Congratulations on keeping your family history alive!

    Hearing about standing up to bullies in power makes me wonder about the similarities between Germany c 1932 and America now. The burning of the German Parliament in 1933 and the 9/11 attacks. Each event led to a slow, deliberate and methodical march towards restricted freedoms and increasing military action against other nations.

    When have you ever noted someone in person speaking out against mandatory ID presentations at airports, bus stations and other transportation points? The establishment of the Guantanamo ‘gulag’, placing people under permanent detention without recognizing basic human or legal rights. etc. etc. What would YOU do if someone next to you at the airline counter made a bold stand against such ID demands? Sure, this isn’t calling for more coal like your grandmother did, but I doubt that the typical response from others would be any more warm than what you Grandmother experienced from her neighbours.

    ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ – George Santayana (1905)

  14. Congratulations on keeping your family history alive!

    Hearing about standing up to bullies in power makes me wonder about the similarities between Germany c 1932 and America now. The burning of the German Parliament in 1933 and the 9/11 attacks. Each event led to a slow, deliberate and methodical march towards restricted freedoms and increasing military action against other nations.

    When have you ever noted someone in person speaking out against mandatory ID presentations at airports, bus stations and other transportation points? The establishment of the Guantanamo ‘gulag’, placing people under permanent detention without recognizing basic human or legal rights. etc. etc. What would YOU do if someone next to you at the airline counter made a bold stand against such ID demands? Sure, this isn’t calling for more coal like your grandmother did, but I doubt that the typical response from others would be any more warm than what you Grandmother experienced from her neighbours.

    ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ – George Santayana (1905)

  15. Weil is, indeed, not far from Minseln. Grandpa was born in “Basel, Germany” according to my info, not far from the Baseler Bahnhof. I never met Grandpa, but did meet and chat with his brother-in-law, Dad’s uncle, in 1962. We both had to speak Hochdeutsch as something of a foreign language, since he spoke Swiss German. Good luck with gathering family history. I lost both my parents when I was in my early 20s.

  16. Weil is, indeed, not far from Minseln. Grandpa was born in “Basel, Germany” according to my info, not far from the Baseler Bahnhof. I never met Grandpa, but did meet and chat with his brother-in-law, Dad’s uncle, in 1962. We both had to speak Hochdeutsch as something of a foreign language, since he spoke Swiss German. Good luck with gathering family history. I lost both my parents when I was in my early 20s.

  17. Wow. That is an amazing story. Reminds of some I heard from a close friend’s father. He was German and forced to serve in the army. He said he basically was given two options. To serve in the army and fight or be executed. Horrible time for humanity.

    I recently went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. If you are out that way, you should check it out.

  18. Wow. That is an amazing story. Reminds of some I heard from a close friend’s father. He was German and forced to serve in the army. He said he basically was given two options. To serve in the army and fight or be executed. Horrible time for humanity.

    I recently went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. If you are out that way, you should check it out.

  19. thank you for posting this Robert. That’s what blogging is all bout IMHO: human stories,current or past. As thousands read this one today, it will also carry on and live a thousand times more.

    Thank you.

  20. thank you for posting this Robert. That’s what blogging is all bout IMHO: human stories,current or past. As thousands read this one today, it will also carry on and live a thousand times more.

    Thank you.

  21. Ron, the ID issue in Aiports predates 9/11 by a good bit. If nothing else, it was used to help prevent stolen tickets, and given my memories of the furious round of hijackings in the 70s and into the 80s, there was some real need for increased security in specific situations. Requiring ID in specific situations is not unreasonable. Requiring the carrying of ID at all times is.

    WRT Robert’s post, there is a tendency, a temptation if you will to make some rather stupid assumptions about Germany in the Hitler era. The biggest one is that the German people either fully supported Hitler’s actions and motives, or at best, turned a blind eye to it.

    That’s as ridiculous as saying that everyone in this country fully supports Bush and the war in Iraq. There were a lot of people who, in different ways, resisted what the Nazi’s were doing, even if they were members of the Nazi party. Just like not every Democrat is Kerry, or every Republican Bush, not every Nazi was Hitler.

    There’s a movie out now, and the name escapes me, about a young woman who was a member of a German resistance movement during that time, and was executed for it.

    I think that Robert’s story needs to be told, and others like it, not because of any kind of inspirational factors, (although if that’s a side effect, hey, bonus), but because without them we don’t know what really happened. Simple respect for the truth demands that we acknowledge such people like Robert’s grandmother and her actions.

    Otherwise, we shun the truth for the more convenient lie.

  22. Ron, the ID issue in Aiports predates 9/11 by a good bit. If nothing else, it was used to help prevent stolen tickets, and given my memories of the furious round of hijackings in the 70s and into the 80s, there was some real need for increased security in specific situations. Requiring ID in specific situations is not unreasonable. Requiring the carrying of ID at all times is.

    WRT Robert’s post, there is a tendency, a temptation if you will to make some rather stupid assumptions about Germany in the Hitler era. The biggest one is that the German people either fully supported Hitler’s actions and motives, or at best, turned a blind eye to it.

    That’s as ridiculous as saying that everyone in this country fully supports Bush and the war in Iraq. There were a lot of people who, in different ways, resisted what the Nazi’s were doing, even if they were members of the Nazi party. Just like not every Democrat is Kerry, or every Republican Bush, not every Nazi was Hitler.

    There’s a movie out now, and the name escapes me, about a young woman who was a member of a German resistance movement during that time, and was executed for it.

    I think that Robert’s story needs to be told, and others like it, not because of any kind of inspirational factors, (although if that’s a side effect, hey, bonus), but because without them we don’t know what really happened. Simple respect for the truth demands that we acknowledge such people like Robert’s grandmother and her actions.

    Otherwise, we shun the truth for the more convenient lie.

  23. John,

    I agree that these stories NEED to be told, and told again and again. That really was the point of my post. BTW – I was scheduled to fly on 9/11 with my wife and 4-year-old son and ID was not required (I live in Canada). The only time I’d ever had ID requested of me was to prove my son’s age (free to fly under 2 years old) and when I flew as a student. Perhaps ID requirements were different in the USA.

    Robert’s Grandmother should stand as an inspiration to us all for her bravery – even though calling for more coal may not seem as risqué from today’s perspective, I believe that it was as much or more difficult for her to do that then as it would be for any of us to challenge the new ‘security’ statutes and other freedom losses that have been implemented in our society since 9/11.

  24. John,

    I agree that these stories NEED to be told, and told again and again. That really was the point of my post. BTW – I was scheduled to fly on 9/11 with my wife and 4-year-old son and ID was not required (I live in Canada). The only time I’d ever had ID requested of me was to prove my son’s age (free to fly under 2 years old) and when I flew as a student. Perhaps ID requirements were different in the USA.

    Robert’s Grandmother should stand as an inspiration to us all for her bravery – even though calling for more coal may not seem as risqué from today’s perspective, I believe that it was as much or more difficult for her to do that then as it would be for any of us to challenge the new ‘security’ statutes and other freedom losses that have been implemented in our society since 9/11.

  25. Ron, your views on this make more sense then. There was a spate of hijackings of US planes in the 70s and 80s that caused the start of the ID requirement.

    I’m not sure of the more difficult part though. Definitely less immediately dangerous. But now, they don’t have to shoot you to make your life suck. They just put you on the right list, and you never fly in the US again. No trains for you. Wanting to drive to TO? Leave early. FBI lists and infiltration of peace demonstrations and groups are rampant, ala the 60s. Piss off the wrong people and even your ability to bank can be messed with relentlessly.

    True, it still beats a bullet in the head, but when you realize the rather unfettered power that a small group of people have to make any form of travel other than automobile effectively impossible, well, a ghetto can be country – sized too you know.

    Kind of the difference between being shot, or being nibbled to death by baby ducks.

  26. Ron, your views on this make more sense then. There was a spate of hijackings of US planes in the 70s and 80s that caused the start of the ID requirement.

    I’m not sure of the more difficult part though. Definitely less immediately dangerous. But now, they don’t have to shoot you to make your life suck. They just put you on the right list, and you never fly in the US again. No trains for you. Wanting to drive to TO? Leave early. FBI lists and infiltration of peace demonstrations and groups are rampant, ala the 60s. Piss off the wrong people and even your ability to bank can be messed with relentlessly.

    True, it still beats a bullet in the head, but when you realize the rather unfettered power that a small group of people have to make any form of travel other than automobile effectively impossible, well, a ghetto can be country – sized too you know.

    Kind of the difference between being shot, or being nibbled to death by baby ducks.

  27. How small the world is. Weil am Rhein is just a few miles away from where I live. It’s located directly before the Swiss border in Germany. On the other side of the border is Basel (where I work).
    BTW Basel is in Switzerland, not in Germany. I always thought that this region of Germany wasn’t too dangerous in WW II. I know a company that moved from Berlin to the town I live (http://www.wehr.de) because of the war – today it’s called Novartis with headquarters in Basel – could even be a Microsoft customer :-)

  28. How small the world is. Weil am Rhein is just a few miles away from where I live. It’s located directly before the Swiss border in Germany. On the other side of the border is Basel (where I work).
    BTW Basel is in Switzerland, not in Germany. I always thought that this region of Germany wasn’t too dangerous in WW II. I know a company that moved from Berlin to the town I live (http://www.wehr.de) because of the war – today it’s called Novartis with headquarters in Basel – could even be a Microsoft customer :-)

  29. My mother was born in Normandy in 1941 and among her earliest memories are cowering under the kitchen table while plaster was falling from bomb explosions. The family moved out of the railway town to a quiet little hamlet – a few kilometers behind what became Utah Beach.

    My mother’s family was very fortunate to escape harm, on the night of June 5-6 1944 there were GI paratroopers in the house at 3am, German soldiers at dawn, and American soldiers again at noon. The house next door had grenades thrown into it and burned; fortunately, the occupants had left when the battleships started bombarding the coast that morning.

    60 years later, the effects of that war are still with us. I often think it must be the same for families in all wars…

    Sean DALY.

  30. My mother was born in Normandy in 1941 and among her earliest memories are cowering under the kitchen table while plaster was falling from bomb explosions. The family moved out of the railway town to a quiet little hamlet – a few kilometers behind what became Utah Beach.

    My mother’s family was very fortunate to escape harm, on the night of June 5-6 1944 there were GI paratroopers in the house at 3am, German soldiers at dawn, and American soldiers again at noon. The house next door had grenades thrown into it and burned; fortunately, the occupants had left when the battleships started bombarding the coast that morning.

    60 years later, the effects of that war are still with us. I often think it must be the same for families in all wars…

    Sean DALY.

  31. Ja, Lars… I know Basel is in Switzerland, but apparently Grandpa was born in a portion of Basel that was German territory in 1877. Perhaps the Baseler Bahnhof was across the border? Novartis is running radio ads here in the San Francisco area about some of its drug successes.

  32. Ja, Lars… I know Basel is in Switzerland, but apparently Grandpa was born in a portion of Basel that was German territory in 1877. Perhaps the Baseler Bahnhof was across the border? Novartis is running radio ads here in the San Francisco area about some of its drug successes.

  33. Guy maybe you’re right. “Badischer Bahnhof” as it’s called today is a railway station located in Basel Switzerland but is somehow German territory.

  34. Guy maybe you’re right. “Badischer Bahnhof” as it’s called today is a railway station located in Basel Switzerland but is somehow German territory.

  35. Genau, Lars … danke. (I had the adjective wrong.) Borders are dodgy things; there are valleys along the Rhein where the border meanders up a valley to the one side or other for a spell. I blame Napoleon. :-)

  36. Genau, Lars … danke. (I had the adjective wrong.) Borders are dodgy things; there are valleys along the Rhein where the border meanders up a valley to the one side or other for a spell. I blame Napoleon. :-)

  37. Well, just last week I guided a 83 year old German through Georgia, Caucasus to his place of POW camp in Chiatura, Georgia. Lots of German soldiers tried to reach the territory won by the American forces.

    Paul H. succeded short after May,8th 1945 near Bayrischer Wald and worked even two days as a translator, when the Americans put a couple of thousands POWs on railway and send to Czech territory, where they came into Russian hands.

    The Russians marked pen stripes on the jacket of every soldier: 1 stripe = healthy (to Siberia), 2 stripes = medium health (to Uzbekistan) 3 stripes = bad health (to Georgia)

    Paul added to stripes himself to the 1 he first got and survived his 4 years in Georgia. See photos of his return to Georgia after 60 years here:
    http://kaukasus-reisen.de/paul-haupt.htm

    There are so many tragic and forgotten histories, from this one and yours more or less finished lucky.

  38. Well, just last week I guided a 83 year old German through Georgia, Caucasus to his place of POW camp in Chiatura, Georgia. Lots of German soldiers tried to reach the territory won by the American forces.

    Paul H. succeded short after May,8th 1945 near Bayrischer Wald and worked even two days as a translator, when the Americans put a couple of thousands POWs on railway and send to Czech territory, where they came into Russian hands.

    The Russians marked pen stripes on the jacket of every soldier: 1 stripe = healthy (to Siberia), 2 stripes = medium health (to Uzbekistan) 3 stripes = bad health (to Georgia)

    Paul added to stripes himself to the 1 he first got and survived his 4 years in Georgia. See photos of his return to Georgia after 60 years here:
    http://kaukasus-reisen.de/paul-haupt.htm

    There are so many tragic and forgotten histories, from this one and yours more or less finished lucky.

  39. Interesting! It’s sad the things that have gone on and I just see it getting worse and not better with some of the tension that is going on in the world right now.

    I just found out recently that my grandfather was one of the first guys who stormed the beaches at Normandy. He was actually part of an experiment to get the regular soldiers off the boats quicker so they wouldn’t get shot. He had to lead them off the boat.

    Also on my mother’s side, they were all put into the Japanese internment camps during the war. Some later served in the US military.

    All kinds of stories there too…

  40. Interesting! It’s sad the things that have gone on and I just see it getting worse and not better with some of the tension that is going on in the world right now.

    I just found out recently that my grandfather was one of the first guys who stormed the beaches at Normandy. He was actually part of an experiment to get the regular soldiers off the boats quicker so they wouldn’t get shot. He had to lead them off the boat.

    Also on my mother’s side, they were all put into the Japanese internment camps during the war. Some later served in the US military.

    All kinds of stories there too…

  41. Robert,

    Thanks for sharing this intereting anecdote.

    “was pleading with us to fight against misuse of power, particularly military power, and particularly against minorities.”

    Should have told her that this is America. Folks have two great choices: Republicans and Democrats just like Pepsi and Coke. Huge freedom of choices!!!!!

  42. Robert,

    Thanks for sharing this intereting anecdote.

    “was pleading with us to fight against misuse of power, particularly military power, and particularly against minorities.”

    Should have told her that this is America. Folks have two great choices: Republicans and Democrats just like Pepsi and Coke. Huge freedom of choices!!!!!

  43. If we all believe in the same God and we know he put us in this world what does it matter what we look like or who we are .We are only here a couple of days just enjoy what you have or it may be already too late .

  44. If we all believe in the same God and we know he put us in this world what does it matter what we look like or who we are .We are only here a couple of days just enjoy what you have or it may be already too late .

  45. Robert,

    Thanks for posting this story. It’s nice to hear about non-Jewish families who stood up for what’s right. I don’t have a very big family becuase of the Holocaust, but I thank G-d for families like yours, because at least I have *some* family left because of people like them!

    Regards,
    Mark Richman

  46. Robert,

    Thanks for posting this story. It’s nice to hear about non-Jewish families who stood up for what’s right. I don’t have a very big family becuase of the Holocaust, but I thank G-d for families like yours, because at least I have *some* family left because of people like them!

    Regards,
    Mark Richman

  47. You’ve written a touching and sentimental essay worth archiving and I hope you don’t mind us folding it into a freshman English course we teach in Ireland.

  48. You’ve written a touching and sentimental essay worth archiving and I hope you don’t mind us folding it into a freshman English course we teach in Ireland.

  49. Great story! A couple of people commented on other stories of Germans who resisted the Nazi movement, and there was also the mention that not all Nazis were “bad” (which I agree with – many were forced into it). Anyway, I remember seeing an *excellent* movie recently called “Amen” which tells the true story of a German officer in the SS, who was also a practicing Christian, and he was involved with supplying the death camps with the deadly zyklon B gas. He was told it was for rodents, not Jews, so he had no idea what was going on until he actually witnessed a gas chamber “in progress”. So he then risked his life to get the information out to the allies about what the Nazis were doing to the Jews. Fascinating story, I recommend it to anyone interested in the topic: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0280653/

  50. Great story! A couple of people commented on other stories of Germans who resisted the Nazi movement, and there was also the mention that not all Nazis were “bad” (which I agree with – many were forced into it). Anyway, I remember seeing an *excellent* movie recently called “Amen” which tells the true story of a German officer in the SS, who was also a practicing Christian, and he was involved with supplying the death camps with the deadly zyklon B gas. He was told it was for rodents, not Jews, so he had no idea what was going on until he actually witnessed a gas chamber “in progress”. So he then risked his life to get the information out to the allies about what the Nazis were doing to the Jews. Fascinating story, I recommend it to anyone interested in the topic: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0280653/

  51. I have many similar pacifist relatives. God Bless your Great Aunt. This is why I’m so independent (and difficult).

    My prayers are with you all.

  52. I have many similar pacifist relatives. God Bless your Great Aunt. This is why I’m so independent (and difficult).

    My prayers are with you all.

  53. Badges for Jews and Christians be the Iranian President’s proposal, it still goes on. But ripped from yeaterday’s headlines.

  54. Badges for Jews and Christians be the Iranian President’s proposal, it still goes on. But ripped from yeaterday’s headlines.

  55. Thank you Robert for sharing this story. It was very touching. Having seen the courage it takes to stand up to the misuse of power on a smaller scale and the health impact it has on people who do it, when the worst that can happen to them is something as relatively minor as losing a job. I can only imagine the stress your grandmother must have gone through taking such a courageous stand knowing it not only put her life and welfare at risk, but that of her family and friends as well.

  56. Thank you Robert for sharing this story. It was very touching. Having seen the courage it takes to stand up to the misuse of power on a smaller scale and the health impact it has on people who do it, when the worst that can happen to them is something as relatively minor as losing a job. I can only imagine the stress your grandmother must have gone through taking such a courageous stand knowing it not only put her life and welfare at risk, but that of her family and friends as well.

  57. Robert thanks for sharing such a compelling story. As a retired US Army officer I don’t understand why so many people are anti-military. There are some great benefits from having a military and it is a necessary evil. Also, the misuse and abuse of power can happen at any institution or organization it is only as good as its people. Thanks for making us think.

  58. Robert thanks for sharing such a compelling story. As a retired US Army officer I don’t understand why so many people are anti-military. There are some great benefits from having a military and it is a necessary evil. Also, the misuse and abuse of power can happen at any institution or organization it is only as good as its people. Thanks for making us think.

  59. Bob, as a USAF vet, I can tell you exactly why. It’s not a slam on the people, but on the organization. When you have stories coming out of California of Guardsmen being assigned to monitor peace groups, Abu Ghirab, some of the problems at Guantanamo, and the rest, one thing is clear.

    While it’s not easy to get people to do wrong things, it is VERY easy to pervert an organization. The larger the organization, the easier it is, because you then have the contradictory aims of doing right and preserving the group’s “Good Name”. The child molestation scandal in the Catholic Church is a perfect example. They knew what had happened was wrong, but protecting the Church became more important than doing the right thing.

    When you have a group like the military, and people who have a lot of time, and in many cases, money vested in that group, they will do anything to protect that investment. While I was doing my final outprocessing from the Air Force, there was an E-7 that got busted for molesting his daughter for years. His big regret? that he was losing his retirement pay and VA benefits.

    I completely understand the mistrust the military engenders, and I was in it.

  60. Bob, as a USAF vet, I can tell you exactly why. It’s not a slam on the people, but on the organization. When you have stories coming out of California of Guardsmen being assigned to monitor peace groups, Abu Ghirab, some of the problems at Guantanamo, and the rest, one thing is clear.

    While it’s not easy to get people to do wrong things, it is VERY easy to pervert an organization. The larger the organization, the easier it is, because you then have the contradictory aims of doing right and preserving the group’s “Good Name”. The child molestation scandal in the Catholic Church is a perfect example. They knew what had happened was wrong, but protecting the Church became more important than doing the right thing.

    When you have a group like the military, and people who have a lot of time, and in many cases, money vested in that group, they will do anything to protect that investment. While I was doing my final outprocessing from the Air Force, there was an E-7 that got busted for molesting his daughter for years. His big regret? that he was losing his retirement pay and VA benefits.

    I completely understand the mistrust the military engenders, and I was in it.

  61. To truly understand how slow the changes that took place in Germany during the 30′s & 40′s I suggest reading a fantastic diary collection by Victor Klemperer called “I Will Bear Witness”. It is a two volume set (1933-1941 & 1942-1945) that gives a visceral account of what it was like as a German Jew to live through Nazi Germany & the firestorm in Dresden.

  62. To truly understand how slow the changes that took place in Germany during the 30′s & 40′s I suggest reading a fantastic diary collection by Victor Klemperer called “I Will Bear Witness”. It is a two volume set (1933-1941 & 1942-1945) that gives a visceral account of what it was like as a German Jew to live through Nazi Germany & the firestorm in Dresden.

  63. Well Robert, I’ve heard you were an excellent blogger … no … I don’t remember where … but today I found out it’s true … because …

    I followed http://del.icio.us/mojodenbow (who happened to pop up on the front page) to http://www.micropersuasion.com/2006/05/itunes_offers_p.html and yes I followed the link because I’m familiar with MicroPersuasion already … and he had in his faves …

    http://www.adrants.com/2006/05/gm-honors-veterans-with-memorial-day-dona.php which I followed and only paid attention the ad to by wondering how my own veteran is doing in his job interview in NYC at this second … and wondered if he’s becoming jaded like his wife (me) re advertisers using veterans as gimmicks or if he sees it the same way … i’ll ask if he ever calls … geeze it’s been a four hr interview already! … sigh … breathe … pray … ok and so …

    then i scrollllled down the page and stopped to gawk at a little ad for huge at http://www.gapingvoid.com … and this i had to go see … cartoons on the back of business cards … and English humor too! … except it stopped being funny right here: http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/002851.html

    and I wanted to write you about something … but first i wanted to see if you had already discovered it … and I see you have …

    When people don’t just POOF on us, they provide us with a very unique blessing … a prolonged time to visit at new and deeper levels with those who we will get to know in life a little longer.

    It happens some when people just poof … but when they linger about a little while … i think sometimes they do it just so the ones they love will talk a little longer to each other.

    Sometimes I write … sometimes I think I will write consistently … sometimes I just want to find a little bit of a consistent pattern to my whole life … something outside of “the only thing inevitable is change.”

    but anyway … i have a longer take on storytelling in families in times like this … (yes Imagine, longer … ) you can read “A Storyteller’s Story about Storytelling” at http://www.MarillaAnne.com

    I know you know … but i’m going to tell you anyway … you will never be the same … don’t look for “getting back to normal” … but you will be okay in new ways you never expected.

    find the joy in your day,
    pamElise

  64. Well Robert, I’ve heard you were an excellent blogger … no … I don’t remember where … but today I found out it’s true … because …

    I followed http://del.icio.us/mojodenbow (who happened to pop up on the front page) to http://www.micropersuasion.com/2006/05/itunes_offers_p.html and yes I followed the link because I’m familiar with MicroPersuasion already … and he had in his faves …

    http://www.adrants.com/2006/05/gm-honors-veterans-with-memorial-day-dona.php which I followed and only paid attention the ad to by wondering how my own veteran is doing in his job interview in NYC at this second … and wondered if he’s becoming jaded like his wife (me) re advertisers using veterans as gimmicks or if he sees it the same way … i’ll ask if he ever calls … geeze it’s been a four hr interview already! … sigh … breathe … pray … ok and so …

    then i scrollllled down the page and stopped to gawk at a little ad for huge at http://www.gapingvoid.com … and this i had to go see … cartoons on the back of business cards … and English humor too! … except it stopped being funny right here: http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/002851.html

    and I wanted to write you about something … but first i wanted to see if you had already discovered it … and I see you have …

    When people don’t just POOF on us, they provide us with a very unique blessing … a prolonged time to visit at new and deeper levels with those who we will get to know in life a little longer.

    It happens some when people just poof … but when they linger about a little while … i think sometimes they do it just so the ones they love will talk a little longer to each other.

    Sometimes I write … sometimes I think I will write consistently … sometimes I just want to find a little bit of a consistent pattern to my whole life … something outside of “the only thing inevitable is change.”

    but anyway … i have a longer take on storytelling in families in times like this … (yes Imagine, longer … ) you can read “A Storyteller’s Story about Storytelling” at http://www.MarillaAnne.com

    I know you know … but i’m going to tell you anyway … you will never be the same … don’t look for “getting back to normal” … but you will be okay in new ways you never expected.

    find the joy in your day,
    pamElise

  65. [...] I think Scoble was driven to blog because he genuinely loved Microsoft and the people who worked there, and had a knack for articulating his passion about his company–and about his life. When I think about Scobleizer, I think about his incredibly honest posts about his mother, who died recently, and how the experience affected his view of his family and his life. I enjoyed his dispatches from the tech-conference circuit. They were human and humorous. [...]

  66. Hey that was a really great story. To think that you had a treasure like that just locked up in a box is amazing. I have never heard a story that was a somewhat rebbutle to the whole WWII story. You always here from the prisoners perspective but never from someone that was actually German and lived there at that time. I am so glad that your grandmother had that strength and was able to be the Rosa Parks of WWII. Thank you so much. I plan on spreading this story by sharing it in one of my college classes.

  67. Hey that was a really great story. To think that you had a treasure like that just locked up in a box is amazing. I have never heard a story that was a somewhat rebbutle to the whole WWII story. You always here from the prisoners perspective but never from someone that was actually German and lived there at that time. I am so glad that your grandmother had that strength and was able to be the Rosa Parks of WWII. Thank you so much. I plan on spreading this story by sharing it in one of my college classes.