Ernest Leitz saved lives
Old 05-06-2018   #1
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Ernest Leitz saved lives

Unheralded (until now) hero

http://www.theguardian.com/world/200...rldwar.germany
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Old 05-06-2018   #2
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I wish life were that simple. He was also a member of the Nazi party, and had contracts to supply the German army with many high quality cameras, as well as binoculars and gun sights for tanks, bombers, etc. The facts are very clear on this subject and not open to personal interpretation.

In any case, it happened a long time ago, and no one living today probably knows the back and front of what is obviously a very complicated story. Even if they did, memory is unreliable and just someone else's version of what happened. I live by the maxim that history is what you see w/ your own eyes, and what you hear w/ your own ears. Anything else is second hand information, and invariably whoever recounts it makes errors and has a bias. It's just human nature.

It would be just as true to say that the number of Jews saved is negligible to the number of people who were killed by being on the wrong end of the Leitz optics. That only covers part of the equation. How facts are assembled can change their meanings to different people. There are always at least two sides to stories. I applaud the rabbi's sleuth work and humanitarian viewpoint, but it is as if one is viewing the world with blinders on to keep out other messy areas of reality. The Nazi scientist Wernher von Braun was responsible for the design and construction of America's Apollo moon rockets. Before that, he had a very different job in Nazi Germany.
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Judge people by what they do.
Old 05-06-2018   #3
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Judge people by what they do.

Did any German industrialist have the power to refuse to "join" the Nazi party "voluntarily" in 1930's Hitler's Germany?
Certainly, if he wanted to keep his company going, and to obtain military contracts (which were going to be enforced whether he was the owner of the company or not), he had to go along with what was politically correct at the time. Here, you need to see the man for what he is by his actions. He personally rescued many Jews from Nazi Germany.

His daughter Elsie Kuhn Leitz also tried to rescue Jews. One of them was caught at the Swiss border, and under interrogation named Elsie as her benefactor. Elsie was incarcerated by the Gestappo. Only a very large monetary ransom paid by her father secured her release. This is all well documented by Rabbi Dabba Smith. Also, when Ukranian women were forced to work at the factory as slaves, by the German military, Elsie did her best to make sure that these women had food and some semblence of decent care. Finally, when the US Army was advancing on Wetzlar, Elsie rode out on her bicycle with a white flag to tell the Americans that the town was undefended. This spared the town from shelling and needless deaths. https://www.amazon.com/Elsies-War-St...nk+dabba+smith

Now let's look at the situation of the other German photographic giant: Carl Zeiss.

After Carl Zeiss died in 1888, the son sold his share of the company to Ernst Abbe, the physicist who was responsible for so many advances in the science of optics. Abbe continued to be a physics professor at the University of Jena. After studying sociology and law for a couple of years, Abbe introduced many benefits for the workers at Zeiss. These were unheard of in the world at the time. They included:
Paid vacations
Sick benefits
8 hour work day
Severence pay
disability and old age pensions for the workers and their families
Worker representation in management.

Abbe had complete ownership of the firm, but he transferred it to a foundation, named after Carl Zeiss. This foundation did amongst many other things:
build homes for their workers, to ensure affordable housing.

Furthermore, the foundation statutes from the first state that "there should be no discrimination on grounds of race, religion, politics, or mode of domestic life." Under the Nazis, this clause was modified on paper, but in practice everyone at Zeiss still adhered to it. This information comes from an article,
"A New Life for Zeiss", by Max Eastman, published in Reader's Digest October 1951.

The head of Carl Zeiss in the 1930s was Emanuel Goldberg, who was Jewish. One day as he was going home, the Nazis nabbed him and tied him to a large tree. He was ransomed by the Carl Zeiss firm. From there, he was spirited off to France, and eventually he made his way to Palestine (now Isreal). Other Zeiss executives who had married Jewish women were also forced out of their positions by tne Nazis. The detailed story is related in "Zeiss and Photography", by Lawrence J Gubas.

So, it is clear that the situation in Nazi Germany was not pleasant for anybody. Nevertheless the actions of many in the photographic business in Germany were noble, and humanitarian. Thus, it is by their actions that we must judge people and firms.
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Old 05-06-2018   #4
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Revisionist history is truly a wonderful thing. We can use it to turn Nazis into good guys.

This is a bunch of BS in my opinion.
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Old 05-06-2018   #5
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How is it revisionist, when people that he rescued, or their descendents are still living in the US? This information comes from a Rabbi, after all.

How many people did your ancestors rescue from slavery in the USA to move them to Canada via the underground railroad?

It makes as much sense to say that all Americans supported slavery pre-Civil War, as to say that all Germans in the late 1930s were Nazis. Long after the Civil war was over, there was still the apartheid of segregation until the civil rights movement struggles ended them.

Anybody want to get into the genocide against the Native peoples of the Americas during the westward expansion of the USA?

Don't so easily condemn others for the crimes that we did here also.
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Old 05-06-2018   #6
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Dont forget that other famous industrialist Porsche. Same sort of story.
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Old 05-06-2018   #7
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If the same standard used to judge the past is applied today, are humans acting any better?
It is convenient to ignore the present while judging the past.
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Old 05-06-2018   #8
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Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
Revisionist history is truly a wonderful thing. We can use it to turn Nazis into good guys.

This is a bunch of BS in my opinion.

Holocaust is real. Hitler's Germany, French and Belgium whores, Poland haters - means the same. Jewish - you are dead.
And the only route to be alive was to escape.

Vladimir Posner, you might know him. His Jewish French mother exacaped nazis France, his father has to go through the hoops to get to USA latter (Russian Jewish socialist).

Yes, every Jewish send from Hitler Germany to USA has his life saved.
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Old 05-06-2018   #9
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I am not disputing that Nazi Germany was a horror Ko Fe. What I am disputing is this continual trend to try and revise what happened in the past by making Nazis seem wonderful.

I may like Ernst Leitz's cameras but I certainly do not like his politics. It is quite simple. Ernst Leitz was a Nazi.

And yes, though it makes no difference here, my relatives did assist slaves escape the south and slavery. I am not trying to revise anything regarding the keeping of slaves in the US though it probably makes you feel better to assume that my family did keep slaves. And unlike what occurred in Nazi Germany, the war to help end slavery in the United States involved only ourselves and did not threaten all of Europe and Russia and kill millions of non combatants.
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Old 05-06-2018   #10
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Pioneer,
Good for your forefathers who had the morality to do what was right. I visited New England seaports many years ago (Kittery, Maine was one of them), and many of these seaside homes had secret rooms built in them, to hide runaway slaves. It took a lot of dedication and courage to take such a risk.

If you want to condemn Ernst Leitz II because he joined the Nazi party, then so be it. Nobody is saying that the Nazis were nice guys. However, with everything you have a spectrum. At one extreme you have the hard core true believers, such as the SS and the Hitler youth. At the other extreme even some Jews joined the Nazi party, just to avoid persecution. If they were found out, they were executed. Leitz never wanted to talk about his wartime experiences, so we will probably never know the entire truth of why he joined. The fact that he actually saved many Jews by getting them out of Germany is proof that he had no hatred towards them. He did this at his own expense, and at risk to his family, it should be noted.

Finally, the Jews were not the only people in the death camps. You also had the mentally ill, the physically deformed, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, and others who refused to join the New World Order - especially some Christian priests. The Jehovah's Witnesses and Catholic priests were "Aryan" Germans, but they paid the price to hold fast to their faith.
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Old 05-06-2018   #11
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If you wonder why I'm so interested in this, it's because I had a Jewish partner when I was working in Chicago. His wife's parents both were killed in the camps.
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Old 05-06-2018   #12
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You know the Guardian Article and the history of Leitz has been around for a few years. It's not particularly unknown in the vintage camera collector/users world.

Judge a man by his actions, I say. Did Ernst Leitz do anything particularly NAZI-like?
Same as our Dutch Prince Bernhard, who had a membership to the NSB (Dutch National Socialist Party) before World War 2....he wasn't much of a NAZI either.
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Old 05-07-2018   #13
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Wasn't Oskar Schindler a member of the Nsdap too?
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Old 05-07-2018   #14
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Hi,

It happens everywhere and at all levels. In any group there's always someone at the bottom of the heap for the others to kick and so on...

And if there's no one around to kick they kick the cat.

Question 1, (10 marks) Identify today's group that can be safely kicked, killed and so on.

Regards, David


PS And has been going on for centuries, I'm Welsh and that just meant "foreign" many years ago. Probably Saxon as German and Dutch friends know the word with that meaning.
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Old 05-07-2018   #15
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Similar figure from Siemens.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rabe

They made a movie about him. One impressive scene was people got shielded under 卐 flag from Japanese air raids.
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Old 05-07-2018   #16
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Communists are same as Nazis. Countries were invaded, tens of millions were killed, people flee countries just as from Nazis.
Yet, nobody questioning soviet artist and scientists and else for been commies.
Nobody question Picasso for taking money from communists., either.
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Old 05-07-2018   #17
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David asked an interesting question,
Who are today's scapegoats?

Here's my list, although it will probably land me in Guantanamo Bay, getting waterboarded.

1) Russia. Everything that a Western politician messes up is conveniently blamed on the Russians. I believe that Russian collusion in the last US Presidential election was on Clinton's side, as the famous National Enquireresque "Dossier" of Christopher Steele was supposed to have been from "Russian Sources". Otherwise, Russia gets blamed for lots of things that they had nothing to do with. Clinton can't win a rigged election that the deep state was so busy moving in her favor? Russian collusion.

Mrs. May wants to show she has some moxy? Make up a fake poisoning incident with some washed up traitors to Russia. If the poison is so lethal, how come they are still alive?

Crimea? Anybody remember that it was Russian territory since Catherine the Great? Here's the quote from Wikipedia:
"The modern history of the Crimea begins with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire by Catherine the Great in 1783 and the handing over of the Crimea by the Ottoman Empire to Russia as part of the Treaty provision. "
Taking back what was theirs to start with, with a 93% majority vote.

Russian aggression? Please name me a war where the Russians weren't invited by the local government to intervene? Afghanistan started that way. Syria started that way for them also.

It is only due to the extreme patience of President Putin that we are not all nuclear ashes right now, due to these extreme provocations. As Napoleon or Hitler could relate to you by their example, trying to make war with Russia is suicide.

2) Iran, and Shia Muslims in general. The most beheadings in the world are performed by Saudi Arabia. But the US press never mentions that.
Israel routinely bombs its neighbors. But the US press never mentions that.

It's always about "Iranian aggression". Aggression against who?
Name one country that Iran has invaded in the last 100 years.

Why are the Saudi Wahhabis so virtuous and the Shia such lowlife?


3) Palestinians. Here are semetic peoples who have been living in Palestine for 1000 years, and then a bunch of European Jews takes the land away and puts them in an open air concentration camp called the Gaza Strip. You think they'd be a little upset? White phosphorus is thrown on these people by Israel, and crickets are chirping in the UN. Palestinian kids throw rocks at Isrealis and get their heads blown off.

I could go on, but you get the point. There is no justice in this world so long as it is run by militarist madmen hell bent on enriching themselves at other people's expense.
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Old 05-07-2018   #18
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Time to close down the thread.
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Old 05-07-2018   #19
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Why close it down when it is just getting interesting? If it is too controversial for you, then don't read it. Free speech is a wonderful but dangerous thing.
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Old 05-07-2018   #20
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Quote:
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David asked an interesting question,
Who are today's scapegoats?
No he didn't, he asked to name who can be safely killed today.
Number 1 in numbers killed is unborn human beings.
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Old 05-07-2018   #21
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From the beginning of mankind, it has been whomever got the upper hand in dealing with those they don't like, or lusting after their territory that have been the oppressors.

Tribes leaving Africa for better places are replaced by following tribes with higher war skills. The Neanderthals were supplanted by later groups, as some of the supplants were then later run over by someone else.

On our own continent, wars and oppression didn't start when the Europeans arrived on the scene, but with the native peoples themselves thousands of years before. It's just that the Westward migrants had a more efficient way of dealing with those that got in the way with their advanced weaponry.

As we "Americans" started to live the dream of "Manifest Destiny", the Native peoples of not only our continent, but of the Pacific Islands (especially Hawaii and the Philippines) suffered for it.

But along the way, there are always those who have empathy for the oppressed, and do what they can to provide safety and support. Unfortunately it's usually too little, and not well coordinated among the empathizers. You always hear or read tales of those who belonged to some radical society that was pushing out or suppressing the local folks, but secretly took care of them. Sometimes it's the only way to be able to determine when it is safe to move people from one place to another, or where to keep them hidden.

I have no idea how much of Herrs Schindler, Leitz, and many others efforts to save lives of the oppressed during WWII is real, or exaggerated by the story tellers (something Hollywood is good at). But whether they saved one person, or thousands of people, they did the right thing under the circumstances, regardless of their political affiliation.

You only have to hear the survivors tell what a great thing it was that this was done for them by someone who risked their own life to save theirs. We need more clandestine helpers every day, because just as it is the human condition to be the apex ruler of everything they see, it is also our capacity for compassion that tampers the fevered fires of destiny.

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Old 05-13-2018   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Communists are same as Nazis. Countries were invaded, tens of millions were killed, people flee countries just as from Nazis.
Yet, nobody questioning soviet artist and scientists and else for been commies.
Nobody question Picasso for taking money from communists., either.
Hear, hear.

Quote:
...I may like Ernst Leitz's cameras but I certainly do not like his politics. It is quite simple. Ernst Leitz was a Nazi....
@Pioneer,
It is quite simple - with regard to fascist socialist police states that are armed to the teeth and have stripped the people of any and all means of resistance: You either do what they tell you with a big toothy grin on your face, or they kill you and your family.

If they tell you to join the Nazi party, you join - and gladly - or you get to watch them dismember your spouse and children in front of you.

If anyone can offer solid proof that Ernst Leitz actually supported, endorsed, advocated or actually believed in the abomination of Naziism, please do so. Until such time, history records the fact that Leitz saved 73 lives, Jewish and otherwise while risking his own life in the process.


The takeaways are obvious:
Actions speak louder than words.
History cannot be denied.
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Old 05-13-2018   #23
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It is worth noting that punishments for people who refused to collaborate with the Nazis was hardly as harsh as is often thought. You might lose Nazi business or face political trouble, but there are no recorded trends of Germans refusing to collaborate and facing death or deportation (read:death) as a result. Even soldiers ordered to commit atrocities could abstain with little more than career repercussions. There was even one commander in the east who wrote to Hitler personally, criticizing the brutality and Mass killings. He was simply reassigned - no need to kill dissenters when you can simply find a careerist or diehard Nazi willing to do the job.

It is likely, I believe, that Leitz joined to preserve his business, not to stave off deportation to a camp. Motivations for saving that business (whether selfish or wanting to save his employees) are unclear, but the penalties for Germans who did not want to support the Nazis were fairly inconsequential.
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Old 05-13-2018   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nukecoke View Post
Similar figure from Siemens.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rabe

They made a movie about him. One impressive scene was people got shielded under 卐 flag from Japanese air raids.
Unfortunately Siemens as a firm also made extensive use of concentration camp slave labor during the war. Not sure if that was ever the case case with Leitz.
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Old 05-13-2018   #25
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As a side comment I watched the superb German movie 'Downfall' last night on Netflix ... I've seen it before and it's the movie that that very clever Nikon/Hitler clip was made from.

I have to rate that as one of the finest films I've ever seen.
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Old 05-13-2018   #26
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My wife had a recent client (she died); who, with her sister, lived through Nazi Germany as a Jew during WWII. She wrote this book:

https://www.amazon.com/Hiding-Open-H.../dp/0878391711

At least click on the link and read the reviews.

If you’re interested in WWII and Germany please consider reading it. It is a biography of her and her sisters experiences during WWII. It maybe available at your community library as it is available at the library here.

Both sisters end up here in Minneapolis with virtually nothing but were determined to succeed. One sister became a M. D. The orher, with her husband, invested wisely here in Minneapolis.

My Mom’s grand parents came to the U.S. from Germany. When I came back from Viet Nam, our family had a get together. My Uncle Wayne, my Mom’s brother, and I visited for a short while. It wasn’t a pretty picture. Here he is, German heritage, killing Germans. He is one of the few POW’s who was captured by the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge, escaped and made it back to the American side.

My wife and I took time to visit the memorial in Germany, last October, for what happened at the Battle of the Bulge. I didn’t realize it but General Patton is buried there.
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Old 05-13-2018   #27
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It is worth noting that punishments for people who refused to collaborate with the Nazis was hardly as harsh as is often thought. You might lose Nazi business or face political trouble, but there are no recorded trends of Germans refusing to collaborate and facing death or deportation (read:death) as a result. Even soldiers ordered to commit atrocities could abstain with little more than career repercussions. There was even one commander in the east who wrote to Hitler personally, criticizing the brutality and Mass killings. He was simply reassigned - no need to kill dissenters when you can simply find a careerist or diehard Nazi willing to do the job.

It is likely, I believe, that Leitz joined to preserve his business, not to stave off deportation to a camp. Motivations for saving that business (whether selfish or wanting to save his employees) are unclear, but the penalties for Germans who did not want to support the Nazis were fairly inconsequential.
As I said above:
Quote:
If anyone can offer solid proof that Ernst Leitz actually supported, endorsed, advocated or actually believed in the abomination of Naziism, please do so.
@flagellum, since you claim that "It is worth noting that punishments for people who refused to collaborate with the Nazis was hardly as harsh as is often thought. You might lose Nazi business or face political trouble, but there are no recorded trends of Germans refusing to collaborate and facing death or deportation (read:death) as a result," I would like to invite you to provide us with some solid substantiation for that claim.
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Old 05-13-2018   #28
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I’m afraid I don’t have an internet-friendly source at my fingertips, though if I find one I will post here. Doris Bergen’s War and Genocide, considered one of the best overviews out there by most of the scholarly historical community, delves into this idea in detail, however. Her basic thesis is that Germans had far more chances to resist the Nazis than they actually pursued (indeed, that the Nazis were extremely afraid of public opinion turning against them, hence the outsourcing of much of their atrocities to outside Germany). All of the examples I mentioned are listed in her book, though I regretfully just returned my copy to the library. An excellent read on the contemporary scholarly thought on the Holocaust, though.

UPDATE: Here is one of the examples listed by Bergen - Johannes Blaskowitz, who commanded the Nazi forces in Poland, wrote to Hitler to formally protest the mass killings and other atrocities that were happening in the country. Instead of being deported, killed, etc., as may be the stereotype, Blaskowitz was simply reassigned to an inferior post. Bergen argues this was typical of the Nazis in Germany - the Nazis largely operated on the assumption that lethal force was not necessary if you simply need to threaten someone's career/business to get them back in line. Of course, this only applied to people deemed "Aryan" or otherwise not targeted by the Nazi ideology.
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Old 05-13-2018   #29
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Revisionist history is truly a wonderful thing. We can use it to turn Nazis into good guys.

This is a bunch of BS in my opinion.
This has been documented as very true. Even books written about it. OP discovered this is good but it's been a known fact for a number of years.
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Old 05-13-2018   #30
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It is worth noting that punishments for people who refused to collaborate with the Nazis was hardly as harsh as is often thought. You might lose Nazi business or face political trouble, but there are no recorded trends of Germans refusing to collaborate and facing death or deportation (read:death) as a result. Even soldiers ordered to commit atrocities could abstain with little more than career repercussions. There was even one commander in the east who wrote to Hitler personally, criticizing the brutality and Mass killings. He was simply reassigned - no need to kill dissenters when you can simply find a careerist or diehard Nazi willing to do the job.

It is likely, I believe, that Leitz joined to preserve his business, not to stave off deportation to a camp. Motivations for saving that business (whether selfish or wanting to save his employees) are unclear, but the penalties for Germans who did not want to support the Nazis were fairly inconsequential.
Not always so. But repercussions did seem to depend upon the surrounding circumstances - such as the nature of the offence (and helping Jews escape was very serious that could at least land the offender in concentration camp) and whether the perpetrator was himself an Aryan or not.

Even then, the punishments could be severe for quite minor offences. For example Sophie Scholl, and Aryan and a university student with her brother were guillotined by the Nazis for not much more than pinning up a few anti Nazi flyers. (Not well known but beheading was a favourite form of Nazi capital punishment for certain offences at least).

It is true though that in some circumstances the Nazis were less willing to go the full distance. This was especially the case early on when they were still not sure of how Germans would respond to some Nazi laws and they felt the need for a more "softly, softly" approach when threats and intimidation were preferred.

It is also true that in principle soldiers could refuse to kill unarmed citizens though in practice few did so due to group pressure.

In relation to joining the Nazi Party I think any German industrialist would feel pressure to do so in order to preserve his firm. In the light of Leitz's actual behaviour towards Jews, I draw no negative inference from this. (Oscar Schindler, famously, was a member of the Nazi Party also and he certainly should not be criticized for that action given he used it to save lives - to his own detriment, given he ended the war broke).

In relation to Leitz's saving of Jews, I think his motivations for that, on the other hand were perfectly clear. He did it because he was a man of conscience and it was the right thing to do. I am reinforced in this belief by the fact that he kept it a secret even long after the war (in part because he knew that it would be frowned upon by some Germans who were still pro Nazi, even then).
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Old 05-13-2018   #31
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Click on the link on the bottom of the OP link; Gino Bartali- that dude was a hero.
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Old 05-16-2018   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
Time to close down the thread.
Why? The discussion has been very civil and reasoned.
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Old 05-16-2018   #33
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I'd think that during these time, for any public it was either being a collaborator or.. a hero soon to be terminated, little in between. If any choice it was purely private and to be a bit of both, the one officially and the other hidden.
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