I am not one of the “Hitler is here!” crowd. From personal experience of federal-and-local harassment, threats of jail, being run off the road by J. Edgar’s hotrodders, blacklisting from jobs and a long look at my FBI file, where I’m listed as a lefthanded, lisping incendiary leader of a mysterious Red ‘Cell With No Name’ alias the ‘Omega cell’ (I’m not kidding), I have felt the heavy hand of the ignoramus on my shoulder. Even unto emigration to Britain where, at one time, I enjoyed the attention of Scotland Yard, Special Branch, MI5, U.S. army counter-intelligence, CIA, and U.S. naval intelligence–all at the same time, stumbling over each other as in an Inspector Clouseau movie.
So you get hardened. Shrug it off. Resist paranoia. Fill your wallet with the telephone numbers of lawyers. And wait for something to happen when nothing actually does, at least to you.
Then your eye falls on a barely-noticed article in a local Southern California newspaper. You call the reporter, and he guides you to his reputable source. And the stomach-tickling fears start all over again, especially when–coincidentally–a Germanophile friend researching in the archives digs up the following from a Munich newspaper dated 1933.
First, the American news item:
The federal government has awarded a $385 million contract for the construction of ‘temporary detention facilities’ inside the United States as part of the Immigration Service’s Detention and Removal Program. The contract was given to Kellogg, Root & Brown, a subsidiary of Halliburton. The camps would be used in the event of an “emergency”, said Jamie Zuieback, an Immigration service official.
The following article appeared in a Munich newspaper in 1933 to mark the “grand opening” of Dachau, Germany’s first concentration camp. This month marks the 73d anniversary:
Münchner Neueste Nachrichten,
Tuesday, March 21, 1933
A Concentration Camp for Political Prisoners in the Dachau Area
In a statement to the press, Himmler, Munich’s Chief of Police announced:
On Wednesday the first concentration camp will be opened near Dachau. It has a capacity of 5000 people. Here, all communist and-so far as is necessary- Reichsbanner and Marxist officials, who endanger the security of the state, will be assembled. In the long run, if government administration is not to be very burdened, it is not possible to allow individual communist officials to remain in court custody. On the other hand, it is also not possible to allow these officials their freedom again. Each time we have attempted this, the result was that they again tried to agitate and organize. We have taken these measures without concern for each pedantic objection encountered, in the conviction that we act to calm the concerns of the nation’s people, and in accordance with their aims.
Himmler gave assurance that in each individual case, preventive custody will not be maintained longer than necessary. It is obvious, however, that the astonishingly large quantity of material evidence seized will take a long time to be examined. This police will only be delayed, if they are continually asked when this or that person in preventive custody will be released. The incorrectness of rumors frequently spread regarding the treatment of prisoners is shown by the fact that for those prisoners who requested it, for example, Dr. Gerlich and Frhr. v. Aretin, counseling by priests is supported and approved without hesitation.
Note: Himmler’s reference to the ‘Reichsbanner’ is to a Social Democratic group, formed to oppose Hitler’s 1923 attempted putsch, that evolved into a fairly ordinary get-together society. The ‘Dr Gerlich’ mentioned at the end (who was permitted to see a priest) was a devout Christian anti-Nazi shot by the Gestapo at Dachau in 1934, his body burned. His widow refused his ashes.
CLANCY SIGAL’s memoir of his mother, A Woman of Uncertain Character (The Amorous and Radical Adventures of My Mother Jennie (Who Always Wanted to be a Respectable Jewish Mom) by Her Bastard Son will be published by Carroll & Graf, $25, this coming Mother’s’ Day, May 14. His Zone Of The Interior is finally being published in the UK, by Pomona at £9.99. In May Sigal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.