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DO I HAVE A CASE?

A Stand, and the Power of Love

It’s worth a trip down history’s memory lane. It’s a picture about taking a stand:

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This picture was taken at the launch of the naval vessel Horst Wessel, on June 13, 1936. If you look closely, you can see August Landmesser (wikipedia) He refused to perform the Nazi salute during this launch exercise. A subtle yet profound act of failure to conform to the Nazi party. The story is the why, and what happened next.

Landmesser had joined the Nazi Party in 1931, because of the promise of better conditions for workers. In 1934, he met and married Irma Eckler, a Jewish woman. Soon after, they had a baby girl.

This explains his attitude by not saluting Hitler, because of the Nazi stance on Jews. Failure to do so with the possibility of being noticed was  publicly rebelling, and possibly leading to signing your own death certificate.

In 1937, they attempted to flee to Denmark but were apprehended. Because he was married to a Jew, he was charged and found guilty in 1937 of “dishonoring the race” because of Nazi racial laws.

He initially was able to argue that neither he nor his wife knew that she was fully Jewish. With this defense, he was acquitted in 1938 for lack of evidence. However, he was warned that a repeat offense would result in a conviction and multi-year prison sentence.

Much like his public display of rebellion, the couple continued their relationship. He was arrested again, and this time sentenced to two and a half years in a concentration camp. He never saw his wife or family again.

After serving his time, he was drafted back into the army and ultimately lost his life in a battle in Croatia in 1944. Earlier, his wife was detained by the Gestapo and then sent to a prison camp. There, she gave birth to their second child. Records show that she ultimately was killed in a concentration camp in 1942.

In 1951, post World War II, their marriage was recognized retroactively by the Senate of Hamburg. The two daughters were put in foster care and reached adulthood.  In 1996, one daughter wrote a book to highlight her parents’ lives as well as point out the importance of her father’s photograph.

Before jumping to the finality of our pic o’ day at the bottom, I wanted to just look back again at the courage of this man. Surely at the time of the photograph, he was already aware of the Nazi propaganda machine; and the probability that his non-loyalty picture would show up. At that time, it appears that all that mattered was his love.

 

 

And for pic o’ day, a good dog pic o’ always makes me laugh!

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