Germany's Secret Society

  • March 18, 2010
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In an ongoing correspondence, a member of the German Society to Preserve Jewish Culture repeatedly invited a Jewish man, who had fled his hometown of Warfelden when he was 14, to return to Germany for a visit. The Jewish man refused, stating that he would never return because former Nazis still lived in the town: In one letter, he listed the names of those he believed were Nazis.

Eventually, the German convinced the Jewish man to visit and, in anticipation of the event, the German Society to Preserve Jewish Culture displayed the correspondence between the two men at an exhibit at the Warfelden Village Hall. But in the letter that listed the former Nazis in the town, the names were whited out.

"It's like a secret society."

“It’s like a secret society,” explained the German. “The elders don’t want it known who were the Nazis. In village life, if your grandfather is a Nazi, you are labeled.”

While visiting Warfelden, the local church asked the Jewish man to give a speech. “Don’t build monuments,” the man said in his native German. “Educate your children. Remembrance is not in stone, but in the hearts of men.”

After the speech, the church choir sang We Shall Overcome in German.

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