Re: [Seniormemoirs] Senior Memoirs - My November reading --- "IF..."
- I agree Bob. It is really nice to see the essays again after listening to them. And, as you said, people who miss the meetings would enjoy reading them. Really, we have such talented writers I am proud to be part of this group.Elaine
--- On Wed, 11/18/09, vonbargenr@... <vonbargenr@...> wrote:
From: vonbargenr@... <vonbargenr@...>
Subject: [Seniormemoirs] Senior Memoirs - My November reading --- "IF...."
Date: Wednesday, November 18, 2009, 10:03 PMHere is my contribution to the Senior Memoirs meeting this morning. I apologize for having to leave early. Unfortunately I had two meetings on the same day.Please post your readings! There are members of our group who are unable to attend our sessions due to health and geographic issues. Give them the opportunity to share in your writing.Bob
My first thought on writing this topic was: What if that traffic light had been green when I was returning from my Coast Guard Reserve meeting on the evening of February 3, 1956. What if I did not stop my car and have time to give second thought about returning to Bryant High School and visit the dance where I met Ellen Foster, the lovely girl who became my wife. Would I have had a wonderful marriage of over fifty years?
I then considered the many potential life altering events that could have happened during my 5000 hours of flying in the Air Force – but then I reflected on an incident that occurred before I was born. It was the time when a Nazi SS Officer threatened my mother about her expressed dissatisfaction of the Nazi treatment of Jews when my parents were visiting Germany during the fall of 1934. The SS Thug told my parents to leave Germany or feel the wrath of the Third Reich. My parents were considering going back to Germany to live. They had come into some money after immigrating to the United States in the nineteen twenties. What if that Nazi SS Officer had not appeared at the hotel that Sunday morning in Berlin? What if they had moved back to Germany? What would have happened after War was declared in 1939? I was four years old, my sister a baby of eight months.
My father certainly would have been conscripted into the German army? Would he have survived? Over seven million German military and civilians died during the war. What would have happened to my mother, my infant sister and me? Would my brother and younger sister have been born in 1941 and 1944? Where would we have lived in Germany? If we resided in East Prussia (The region east of Poland and south of Lithuania) where my mother came from, what would have happened when the Russians invaded and conquered the area? My Grandparents fled on foot with Russian soldiers at their heels. They escaped by running through a corn field to avoid capture. What would have happened to my mother who would have had to flee with two or more children? My grandparents ended up in a refugee camp in Kiel, Germany. They were bombed continuously … my grandfather, a proud and often arrogant Prussian business man, experienced a severe mental breakdown and suffered from depression for the rest of his life.
What about my mother’s strong and often verbal feelings about the Nazi attacks on German Jews? Could or would she have remained silent? Would she have been involved in the limited underground movement to save Jews from the concentration camps? What if she had been caught? What would have happened to her, and to us children?
Then again, what if the family settled in the north east section of Germany that was my father’s home? What if the family moved to Hamburg? Hamburg was the nearest large city where my father could have sought employment. What if we were there on July 24, 1943 when England’s Air Chief Marshall Arthur “Bomber” Harris initiated “Operation Gomorrah”? For eight days and seven nights Hamburg was fire bombed by America’s Eighth Air Force and the RAF. What if we were there during the bombing? Would we have survived the fire storm that destroyed the city? Would we have become charred bodies in the street, or a suffocated corpses in an oxygen deprived underground shelter?
But, my parents did not stay in Germany in 1934. They left on the next boat! They rejected the tyranny of the Nazi’s and became proud and patriotic American citizens. They instilled these virtues in their children.
But here’s another “IF” … What if the citizens of Germany had stood up to Adolph Hitler before he became so powerful that it was impossible to move against him. Hitler consolidated his power in less than 18 months. What “IF” the German people had the integrity and insight to say up front: “This is not right! This will not be done here!” IF so …, would Germany have been spared the destruction that ensued as a result of their apathy? Inaction allowed Hitler and his henchmen to chip away at the laws, and in a very short time gain absolute dictatorial control? The silent Germans then saw their nation destroyed!
Today we in America must be careful to maintain a vigilance regarding our national security, lest we face destruction similar to what was rained down on Nazi Germany. Many in our society today have a limited understanding of history. Too many or our people are like the Germans of the nineteen thirties.. “The Silent Generation”, “The Silent Majority”, and other terms have been used to describe people who are docile while issues are debated and laws are enacted that slowly transform the nation. Liberty and security are fragile commodities that must be protected with eternal vigilance. Who would have thought that in ten months after a national election that our federal government would control major portions of the finance and banking industries; that the Feds would own and exercise managerial control of General Motors and Chrysler Corporation; that Congress would be aggressively pushing legislation that would socialize the health care industry; that “Cap and Trade” legislation would mandate major restrictions and industrial controls on manufacturers under the ruse of snake oil science that is based on dubious computer projections. Their justification for this economy crippling legislation is so-called manmade “Global Warming”, albeit that the earth has actually been cooling in recent years.
Today Congressional legislators are well on the way to dramatically changing the nation we grew up in. The populace in 1933 Germany was enthralled by the emotional and inspirational speeches of a leader promising national renewal and pride. Today we hear articulate promises of a new tomorrow and something for nothing that will be delivered from Washington! Will our citizens consent to legislation that could ultimately eliminate the private enterprise system that built this nation? Will these politicians eventually implode the nation with massive debt? Will the economic burden of this proposed legislation have the same result on the United States as the bombs that rained down on Nazi Germany … those indifferent German people who did nothing to stop the Nazi’s when they had the opportunity? Will our grandchildren and great grand children say remorsefully about us: “IF they only had …”