By David Zeiger (co-initiator, Refuse Fasism):
Kurt Gerron was a successful and beloved Jewish actor and director in Berlin during the heady days of the Weimar Republic. He lived and breathed film. Nothing else mattered. His most famous role was as Mack the Knife in Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera.
Then the Nazis came. He was fired from his directing job and unable to work. So he moved to Paris, to wait out the Nazis. They couldn’t possibly last. He eventually found work, but within a year the anti-Jewish fever had spread into Paris and he had to flee again, this time to Holland. Most of his friends–Peter Lorre, Billy Wilder, and many more, were going to Hollywood, but he was convinced that Hitler’s days were numbered and as long as he could get work, everything would be fine.
Things were ok in Amsterdam until the Nazis came, and tens of thousands of Jews, including Kurt Gerron, were shipped off to camps. But Gerron was sent to Thereisenstadt, the camp the Nazis had reserved for Jewish artists, intellectuals and athletes. It was their “model camp,” the one they allowed a representative of the Red Cross to visit to show the world how enlightened the camps were.
Kurt Gerron lived for film, but hadn’t been able to work in months. Then the Thereisenstadt Camp Commander offered him a job–make a film about Thereisenstadt, depicting it as a paradise. His choice? Make the film and live, or not make the film and be sent to Auschwitz. He made the film. Then he was sent to Auschwitz and murdered one day before the camps were closed as the allies advanced.
This story is grippingly told in the 2002 documentary film, Prisoner of Paradise, by Malcolm Clarke and Stuart Sender.
I urge all of you to watch that film. Then think about what we face today.
Trump and Pence have told us time and time again what they intend to do, and they are bringing into their ruling circle a rogues gallery of fascists–yes, fascists–to carry out their plans.
Fact: The “election” of Trump/Pence marks the victory of the most extreme right-wing forces this country has seen in decades, forces that have been building for this moment for thirty years.
Fact: They are poised to take power in a world that was thrown into chaos by the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan–invasions that created endless warfare in the middle East and what is today the worst refugee crisis since World War II. In that volatile world, Trump has declared his determination to bring back torture and his brash willingness to use nuclear weapons.
Fact: They are eagerly preparing to destroy even the meager efforts made by Obama to stem climate change, and open the floodgates for the voracious oil industry.
Fact: They promise a paradise of jobs and prosperity for white workers by bringing back industry and rounding up millions of immigrants for deportation. They can’t bring back industry, but they will “keep their promise” by doing the latter, with a vengeance.
Fact: That’s just for starters.
DON’T WAIT AND SEE. YOU ALREADY SEE. DON’T THINK SOMEONE ELSE WILL STOP THEM. YOU HAVE TO. WE ALL HAVE TO DO ALL WE CAN TO CREATE A POLITICAL CRISIS IN THIS COUNTRY THAT CAN STOP THEM IN THEIR TRACKS–YES, EVEN BEFORE THE INAUGURATION.