Readers who imagine that I’ll be writing about Donald Trump’s political followers – frequently called Nazis by Big Media – will be disappointed or relieved (as the case may be). We’ll start with some historical background.
Except for a small cadre of nutcake holdouts who believe the Nazi Holocaust never happened, most Americans know that some 11 million Jews, Gypsies, Africans, homosexuals, and “genetically defective” persons were rounded up, imprisoned, and systematically killed in “industrial scale” death camps by the Nazis in the 1930s and ‘40s. Numerous books, documentaries and first-hand accounts have revealed the unspeakable horrors that resulted when the nation of Luther, Goethe, Schiller, Niemöller, and Bonhoeffer descended into the dark abyss of inhumane cruelty.
Most Americans know little of this, first-hand, unless they served in the World War II European Theater of Operations, or actually survived the Nazi camps. Growing up in the 1950s, I heard a lecture from an individual who had served with a U. S. Army unit which liberated one of the death-camps in 1945. He said the gruesome sight was burned into his memory. And in the 1970s I got a jolt of reality when I saw that an elderly lady standing near me in an elevator-car had a number tattooed on her forearm. A wave of horror swept over me when I realized that she had seen it all, but had somehow escaped to live out the rest of her life.
Back in the days when schools still taught actual history, we learned that Adolph Hitler’s crack-brained racial theories had produced those Nazi policies which branded Jews as “enemies of the state” and eventually led to the atrocities of the Holocaust. Hitler’s seminal work, Mein Kampf, shows that he was certainly round the bend on race. But few historians delved any deeper. Most failed to obey one of the absolute fundamentals of historical research: Follow the Money.
Because of this historical research-failure, most Americans don’t realize that the Nazis’ Final Solution to achieve “racial purity” by eliminating the Jews was actually cover for a gigantic property-heist. The celebrated American writer Herman Wouk (1915-2019) – of Jewish ethnicity himself – revealed the truth of this atrocious construct in his historical novel, The Winds of War.
In the story, U. S. Navy Captain Victor Henry is posted as Naval Attaché to our Berlin embassy in 1939. When he and his wife are able to rent a mansion-sized home for a mere $87 a month, Captain Henry wants to know why the owner, a wealthy Jewish sugar-merchant, is willing to accept such a low rent. The owner discloses that as long as the house is occupied by a foreign diplomat it cannot be seized by the Nazi government. Later, the owner offers to sell furnishings in the house to the Henrys for low prices, as he and his wife are being deported to Poland.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg in the vast organized swindle that is going on in Germany. Captain Henry also learns that Nazi regulations are strangling Jewish-owned businesses and pushing the owners to the wall, financially. When they are forced to sell out, Nazi officials and moneyed insiders swoop in to buy up factories, stores and other businesses for pfennigs on the deutschmark. Jewish-owned artworks worth millions also fall into the hands of brilliant “collectors” like Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring.
The scope of the theft of Jewish-owned art and other possessions is further revealed in the 2014 film Monuments Men,1 which depicts activities of a team commissioned by the U. S. government to track down artworks stolen by the Nazis and hidden in various locations in Europe. Critics panned the film as “dull” and “lead-footed,” but its emotional impact on Americans ignorant of the staggering scope of the Nazi thefts – as well as the brutality which enabled them – is undeniable. At one point in the film, the team discovers a cave filled with stolen art. But among the paintings and statues they also find a barrel filled with what looks like small nuggets of gold. To their horror, they realize that the “nuggets” are actually gold teeth extracted from corpses after they were gassed in the death-camps.
The Nazi art-thefts also formed the backdrop for an episode of the long-running TV series, Blue Bloods, in which Assistant District Attorney Erin Reagan becomes romantically involved with Jacob Krystal, an international art thief who is being shadowed by the FBI.2 As the episode unfolds, ADA Reagan discovers that the artworks reportedly “stolen” by Krystal have been returned to their rightful owners – i.e., descendants of Jews who were victims of the Holocaust. The Nazis had stolen their art-possessions at the time of their arrests. Jacob Krystal is never apprehended, and the question of whether stealing back something that was originally stolen from its rightful owners is really a theft goes unanswered.
Luckily, Americans haven’t experienced anything like the Nazis’ Jewish art-theft and business fire-sale swindle…or maybe we have. Remember how President Roosevelt sent over 100,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry to “detention camps” in the interior of the country, after the Pearl Harbor attack? FDR and California Governor Earl Warren decided that these Americans were too dangerous to continue living and working on the west coast, where they might aid the enemy. So they were shipped off to live under armed guard in what amounted to prison camps, until the war against Japan was concluded. They were denied due process and were essentially treated as “enemies of the state.” (Sound familiar?)
What happened to those people? Eventually they were released without any physical harm. But when they returned to their former homes, many found strangers living in them. While detainees were tucked away in the camps, they were unable to pay the real estate taxes on their homes and shops. Subsequently, cities or counties seized those properties and sold them for non-payment of taxes – often simply for the amount of the taxes-due. Some sharp-eyed investors in California, Oregon and Washington State made out pretty well. But the Japanese detainees, not so much.
OK, so maybe FDR wasn’t a very nice guy. (Maybe his statues should be pulled down.) Evidently some lines were crossed, but thank heavens we’re past that dark period.
But are we? For months, rioting has been going on in cities across the country. News footage shows places that look like Richmond, Virginia, circa April 1865. Reporters say people are fleeing from those cities in droves. Owners who had put decades of hard work into building those businesses are just walking away and not looking back. I felt physically sick watching interviews with owners who were standing in the pathetic rubble of their shops and stores. Next to the destruction and loss when the Twin Towers went down, those scenes of wreckage in Seattle, Portland and other cities are the worst TV reports I have ever seen.
My question is this: will anyone look into what happens to those business properties that the “peaceful protestors” have trashed and burned? Will investors looking for a sharp deal buy up those distressed properties for pennies on the dollar? Or will city governments seize them for non-payment of taxes and sell them for a song to entrepreneurs eager to clear the rubble and build new shopping malls and upscale apartments? Of course, it will all be entirely legal – just like in 1942 California. It will be a wonderful example of community-minded “urban renewal” on the cheap. (Is this a great country, or what?)
But I apologize: this is no time for wisecracks. There’s nothing funny about months of destructive riots, accompanied by threats from one of our political parties that the violence will continue unless we vote their way. This is a warning shot fired across the bow of the American Ship of State. If it can happen out in West Coast La-la Land, it can happen anywhere to you and me. People in those cities probably thought they were living in secure, thriving, progressive societies – doing business, making good money, and living la dolce vita. They never imagined that their public officials cared so little about the citizens in their charge that they would stand aside and let violent brigands pillage and destroy their communities to achieve some nebulous political goal.
Is it possible that some of those officials expect to profit from cheap acquisition of business-property, as Hermann Göring and those other sharp-dealing Nazis did? I hope not. But whatever the case, the violence must stop. We live in a Constitutional Republic, which means that we rely on elected officials to protect our lives and property. Most citizens are not in a position to take up arms and assume those responsibilities, so my hope is that the federal government will take up the leadership torch and restore order in places where local officials have failed to do so.
And while they’re at it, some federal investigation into who is buying distressed properties wouldn’t be amiss. As they say, “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…”
“Trust, but verify.” (Ronald Reagan)
- Starring Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, and Dennis Farina.
- “Thanksgiving” episode, starring Bridget Moynahan and Fred Weller.