by Ursula Duba, November 1999
(see also her Tales from a Child of the Enemy, 1997, $3/9 at amazon)

during a brisk walk
along the shoreline
Werner tells me
how devastated he was
when classmates called him
a Nazi
during the Eichmann trial[*]
in their new home in Chicago
to which they had emigrated
in the early fifties
from their home town Bremerhaven

in north Germany he was sixteen at the time of that trial
had learned English well
since his arrival in 1951
and had been raised
with pride in his heritage
by his Nazi parents
even though their house in Bremerhaven
had turned into rubble
during WWII
two uncles had died
at the Eastern front
and one in captivity in Russia
after the war
and there was nothing left
of the family business
which had supplied
to the war effort

his father and mother
looked with pride
on their two sons and two daughters
all of them tall
and athletic

his father hardened himself
with cold showers
in the morning
endurance was emphasized
and crying not tolerated
all of them were spurred on
to participate in vigorous and competitive sports -
let's show those soft Americans
what we Germans can do
was their father's continuous battle cry
even though his father's pipe dream
of becoming rich in America
and showing off to his impoverished family
back in Germany
was not materializing -
one scheme after another had gone bust
and Werner was ashamed
of their shabby apartment
and the hand-me-down clothes
he had to wear

his parents had no friends
and he and his siblings
were discouraged to bring classmates
back home
because his father was suspicious
of all Americans
even the blond and blue-eyed ones
after all
Americans believed in the melting pot
he told them
you could never know
what inferior genes

were lurking in their bodies an insult to humanity
he used to call this mixing
of people from different countries
and nothing good would come out of it
he declared frequently

don't forget
he used to lecture his children
we are the master race
and far superior to anybody else
he blamed Hitler's defeat
on the Conspiracy of World Jewry
and on all those Germans who had not sufficiently
supported Hitler and The Thousand Year Reich

when he came home
from his menial job
after washing down his schnapps with several beers
he insisted they listen to him
when he told them
about the ancient Nordic gods
who hadn't believed in weakness and mercy
and he instructed them
that only the master race
was entitled to rule the world
and that all others
were destined to do their bidding
and to obey them

during the Eichmann trial
discussed at great length
on television in the newspapers and at school
Werner was horrified
about the atrocities committed by his people
in his country

he joined a peace group in college
broke with his father
became a teacher
and devoted himself to many worthy causes
during the next thirty years

Werner participated in a training program
to teach hard core criminals
conflict resolution
and now spends most of his free time
in a maximum security prison

I see his eyes light up
when he talks about the bonds
he has formed with those inmates
and hear his pride
in having been able
to help the prisoners learn reading and writing
besides conflict resolution
I am touched by Werner's compassion
and caring
for those prison inmates
but miss the mentioning
of the victims
of the perpetrators
who raped assaulted and committed robberies and murders

and what do the inmates
think of your work
I ask Werner

the tall blond blue-eyed athletic man
stops his brisk walk
for a moment
and tells me
looking at me with pride and joy
they treat us like gods

* Eichmann trial: Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962) was the SS leader in charge of masterminding the transportation of Jews from all over Europe to the murder factory at Auschwitz. He was captured at the end of World War II, but managed to escape from an internment camp and disappear. In May 1960 Israeli secret service agents captured him in Argentina and smuggled him to Israel, where his trial from Apr. 11 to Aug. 14, 1961 attracted worldwide attention. Many Holocaust survivors gave detailed testimony about the horrors of the Nazi death camps. Eichmann was found guilty, sentenced to death, and hanged on May 31, 1962. (jump back up)

prepared for web by H. Marcuse, Jan. 4, 2004, updated 12/26/05
back to top; to UCSB Hist 133c 2004 course homepage, to 2004 reader table of contents