Categories
History

“The Diaries of Friedrich Kellner”

Photo of Friedrich Kellner in 1934. Scanned from family album by Professor Robert Scott Kellner

I am reading the recently published second and final volume of the biography of Adolf Hitler by German historian Volker Ullrich. It is entitled Hitler: Downfall: 1939-1945. Roger Abrams, writing in the New York Journal of Books, calls Ullrich’s work “a remarkable treatise on the malevolence of power in modern times.”

Early in the volume, Ullrich commends the diaries of Friedrich Kellner. Kellner was a court official in the western German town of Laubach who had no special access to wartime information. Kellner was repulsed by the Nazi regime and kept detailed diaries based on what he read in the German press and by talking to people. He hoped his diaries would be a warning to future generations about blind faith.

Ullrich explains that Kellner’s diaries “show that it was entirely possible for normal people in small-town Germany to see through the lies of Nazi propaganda and learn of things like the ‘euthanasia’ murders of patients in psychiatric institutions and the mass executions carried out in occupied parts of eastern Europe.”

The Kellner diaries were published in 2011 in German and now are available in English. The diaries are also the subject of a touching 2007 TV documentary on YouTube created by Kellner’s American grandson.


Sources:

Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 6). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Categories
History

Nuremberg War Crimes Trial Recordings Now Online

The complete recordings of the Nuremberg War Crimes trials are now online for the first time. The International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, the custodian of the original materials, arranged the digitization of its archive, collaborating with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris. There are 775 hours of recordings so this is not for the casual listener.

Edward Rothstein writing in The Wall Street Journal explains that the recordings aren’t easy to listen to in part because the recordings do not translate the German, English, French and Russian spoken at the trial. Even so, Rothstein concludes that:

what is heard, even now, seems remarkable: a rough first draft of judgment, beginning just five months after the war with Germany ended and unfolding over nearly a year as its arbiters strained to fit minimal forms of existing law to maximal forms of moral degradation.

Categories
History Photography

Washington, DC on High Alert

This is a tense period in the nation’s capital. Key institutions look like an armed camp. I have lived in Washington over 40 years and have never seen anything like this.

The Supreme Court is surrounded by a protective fence. © David H. Enzel, 2021
The Capitol is fenced off and protected by the US Army after the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The flag is at half mast because United States Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick passed away due to injuries sustained while on-duty during the attack. © David H. Enzel, 2021
At approximately 9:30 p.m. on January 7, 2021, United States Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick passed away due to injuries sustained while on-duty. Officer Sicknick was responding to the riots on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol and was injured while physically engaging with protesters. He returned to his division office and collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The death of Officer Sicknick will be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Branch, the USCP, and other agencies. Officer Sicknick joined the USCP in July 2008, and most recently served in the Department’s First Responder’s Unit.© David H. Enzel, 2021
Categories
History

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 27 is designated by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Since 2005, the UN and its member states have held commemoration ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism.

Since 2010, the UN has designated specific themes for the annual commemorations that focus on topics such as collective experiences and universal human rights.

The UN’s theme guiding Holocaust remembrance and education in 2021 is “Facing the Aftermath: Recovery and Reconstitution after the Holocaust”. It focuses on the measures taken in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust to begin the process of recovery and reconstitution of individuals, community, and systems of justice.

Seven events are planned from January 21, 2021 through February 11, 2021. Registration is free.


It would be a dangerous error to think of the Holocaust as simply the result of the insanity of a group of criminal Nazis. On the contrary, the Holocaust was the culmination of millennia of hatred, scapegoating and discrimination targeting the Jews, what we now call anti-Semitism.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Categories
History

What Comes Next for American Democracy?

Yale historian Timothy Snyder has studied fascism in depth. He has written a thoughtful piece about the future of American democracy in The New York Times. Snyder explains that the past not only helps us to see the risks we face but also points to future possibility. He concludes that:

Democracy is not about minimizing the vote nor ignoring it, neither a matter of gaming nor of breaking a system, but of accepting the equality of others, heeding their voices and counting their votes.

It isn’t complicated. But at this moment, it does not sound easy.

Categories
History Photography Travel

The Sheridan-Kalorama Neighborhood of DC

Art on Call, Washington, DC, Artist: Peter Waddell Photograph: © David H. Enzel, 2021

Yesterday, I was walking in the Sheridan-Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, DC. I stumbled across one of the many works of art in Washington’s abandoned police and fire call boxes. The project is called “Art on Call.” I have been making photos of these call boxes as I come across them. They have educated me about the city’s rich history.

This call box explains that three chief justices of the United States Supreme Court lived in Sheridan-Kalorama:

  • William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States was appointed Chief Justice by President Harding, after serving as President. Taft is the only person to have served in both of these offices. He lived at 2215 Wyoming Avenue.
  • Charles Evans Hughes, a U.S. Secretary of State and an unsuccessful candidate for President in 1916, became Chief Justice in 1930 and resided at 2223 R Street.
  • Harlan Fiske Stone, a U.S. Attorney General, occupied 1919 24th Street. during his tenure.

In addition, other prominent Supreme Court justices have lived in Sheridan-Kalorama including Louis Brandeis, Joseph McKenna and Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female justice of the Supreme Court.

The rendering of the Supreme Court in the call box is the creation of Peter Waddell, a native of New Zealand who came to Washington in 1992 and became a U.S. citizen in 2002. Waddell’s beautiful paintings focus on America’s history and architecture. Waddell’s view of the United States is inspiring.

The Sheridan-Kalorama neighborhood also includes a number of diplomatic residences, including the residence of the French ambassador at 2221 Kalorama Road, shown below.

The French ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. is located at 2221 Kalorama Road, N.W., in the Kalorama neighborhood of northwest Washington, D.C. The residence was built in 1910. © David H. Enzel, 2021

The Sheridan-Kalorama neighborhood is worth visiting.