‘Coincidentally,’ I became aware of the plight of the Romeike
family on Holocaust Remembrance Day. In 2008, the Romeike family fled to the United
States because their desire to homeschool their children ran counter to the law
in their native Germany. Threatened with escalating fines and the probable
removal of their children from their home, they requested asylum in the United
States, which was granted in 2010.
With everything pertaining to immigration running so
smoothly in this country and obviously much free time on their hands (sarcasm
intended), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement decided to challenge
the decision to grant them asylum, in a case that will be heard later this
month. As a human being, as a mother and as a homeschooler my heart goes out to
the family. But it is as a Jew that I signed a petition
urging our government to drop its attack.
I rarely sign general petitions. I simply don’t see it as
the most effective means of protest and I am wary of putting my name to
something without taking sufficient time to research the issue. You could say
it isn’t “my thing.” None of that mattered in this case.
Centuries of anti-Semitism disseminated and promoted by the
Catholic Church and not condemned by the followers of the Protestant
Reformation, laid a foundation for Nazi Germany’s evil. In the years since
World War II, leaders and lay people in both churches have accepted
accountability for anti-Semitic teachings and made corresponding changes in
their churches. However, that isn’t the whole picture. Nazism was a Socialist
state creation, with strong anti-religious overtones. Hitler, like Stalin,
understood that obedience to God interfered with obedience to a human dictator.
Religion was a tool to be manipulated rather than a creed to be followed. The
state’s authority must be paramount.
For this reason, responsibility for the Holocaust cannot be
laid solely at the feet of traditional anti-Semitism or the Church. The complete
dominance and power of the state was also a key factor. The German educational
system played a large part in citizens’ compliance. Germany’s laws regarding
compulsory schooling date back to the 1870’s. The laws were strengthened and
penalties for non-compliance were added under Hitler. The goal of government
schooling was to provide citizens who would be good workers and obedient to
authority. Individual thinking and strong family ties pose a threat to
totalitarian regimes. Obeying orders, no matter what they were, was an intended
result of Germanic training.
In one of history’s
paradoxes, most of those who aided or sheltered Jews did so not in spite of,
but because of, their Christian beliefs. Some held a general belief that murder
of any human being is wrong. Others, like
devout Protestant nonagenarian Casper ten Boom who
died in Gestapo prison because he asserted that his home would always be open
to those who are, “the apple of God’s eye,” felt that their Christian faith compelled
them to assist Jews. Their faithfulness to God and their belief that they were
accountable to Him was what gave them the strength to resist the regime despite
the potential, and too often realized, dire consequences.
The Romeike family was granted asylum because they wanted to
educate their children outside of government control. An American administration that has repeatedly
proven that it values state dominance over individual faith-driven conscience
is threatening to deport them. Particularly this week, when awareness of the
Holocaust is promoted, signing
the petition was something I had to do.
6 thoughts on “Supporting a Christian Family on Holocaust Remembrance Day”
An additional warning from the case of this poor family: even after a tyrant is overthrown, some of the Draconian measures he established can remain in effect, with loss of freedom. This can happen with education, also with taxation and gun control. Americans, take heed!
James, well said! I signed a few weeks ago. I too found the following statement alarming, “The goal of government schooling was to provide citizens who would be good workers and obedient to authority. Individual thinking and strong family ties pose a threat to totalitarian regimes. Obeying orders, no matter what they were, was an intended result of Germanic training.” and also helped me understand my (partially German) upbringing. Susan, your musings are always a Blessing.
The kernel of moral in the Rabbi’s story would seem to be: “Be careful whom you emulate.” How appropriate for the following Musing!
One keynote in this Musing for me is “The goal of government schooling was to provide citizens who would be good workers and obedient to authority.” I have lived both in Germany and in the US. I love Germany, but mistrust its socialism. Thanks to the Allies, Hitler was overthrown. But the damage was done. Germany may not be National Socialist, but remains very socialist to its core. Taxation is through the roof and fear of the Government is pervasive, likewise dependence upon its benefits. Many things about Germany I deeply miss, but one reason I was glad to return home was that our bureaucrats still subscribe to the belief that they are there to serve the people. German bureaucrats are there to keep you in line, buster!
Germans make no private contributions to the Church because the churches are supported by Kirchensteuer (church tax) collected from the populace by the State. That the churches are State-dependent makes it obvious that their churches have fallen into line, and German religious fervor seems much weakened as a result. I suppose the Germans have few illusions about State-sanctioned religion. The Jews are now all over Berlin, with a brand new synagogue, and I do not doubt that they are also supported by Federal Kirchensteuer.
Thanks to Woodrow Wilson, the goals of US public education were reset similarly behind the scenes: to make obedient servants and factory workers who follow orders without questioning their superiors. “We don’t need men of letters or independent thinkers.” The increasing involvement of the Feds in education serves the same purpose. Increasingly we emulate a Soviet educational system. We have already begun to reap its consequences: enforcement of absolute equality, leveling of all individual and ethnic differences, dethroning of God in favor of the State. History is being rewritten, reinterpreted according to a socialist dialectic. Increasingly students will be enculturated and indoctrinated without being taught how to think. What is wrong with this picture? Let us hope the home schooling option will survive.
I would love to sign your petition but it would not recognise my email address, which is a bit daft but there you go, so sorry I cannot but I do thank you for letting me know what the education system is like in German.
Thank you Susan. You “forced” me to participate with your urging. I had previously gone to the government page to sign, but had encountered the usual government obstacle of registering, and I so despise and distrust this government particularly that I was turned away by this minor obstacle. So thanks for the encouragement.
Thank you for signing and telling others. I have corresponded by mail with another German family who is being persecuted and the few of losing their children is REAL!
It is embarrassing to think we would welcome them and then change our minds and send them back again.
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