Work will set you free.

My shocking-and-mocking meter must need recalibration. I saw this story — about a prankster/conceptual artist/asshole who posted a sign reading “Arbeit macht frei” on an overpass in the abandoned Packard plant and I wasn’t outraged, insulted or wounded. I just thought “jerk, or jerky artist, or mean jerk.”

For those of you not up on your history, the phrase in its original context:

Entrance to Auschtiz with the words 'Arbeit Macht Frei'

That’s Auschwitz, if you can’t tell. It means “work will set you free.”

No one has taken the credit/blame for the Detroit installation, but my money’s on hipster dildos who are either trying to be provocative or just liked the idea of the words on an archway leading to a crumbling ruin. Not well thought-out, but what do you want?

The reaction, however, was a bit much:

Stephen Goldman, executive director of the Holocaust Memorial Center on Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills, was appalled by the message.

“It’s offensive on a number of levels,” Goldman said. “Metro Detroit has one of the largest Jewish communities, and largest survivor communities in the country.

“It’s a mocking message from when Jews saw that message over the gates of concentration camps, and then learned what was going to happen after passing under that gate.”

OK, with you so far. Then…

Goldman also sees it as an insult to the auto industry.

“Does it mean that working in the auto plants is the same as working as slaves in a concentration camp?” Goldman said. “Yes, the Packard Plant is a derelict facility, but so are the concentration camps still in Europe, although some serve as museums.

“Slave labor is insulting, and this is an insult to the auto industry.”

Oh.

Moving on! I was paying some bills today, checking out my online banking for the first time in a while. Hmm, when did I spend $125 at a Sunoco station? In, whu-? Brooklyn? THAT Brooklyn? And I spent $125 there yesterday, too? And the day before that?

Yep, my debit card had been hacked. For a four-figure sum. I’ll get it all back — so the bank lady said — but it was something of a shock, particularly as I’d spent much of New Year’s weekend strengthening all my passwords, making them as firm and unbreakable as Popeye’s biceps. I used Farhad Manjoo’s method, and while this didn’t include a password crack, it was still ironic.

The good news is, I still have some money left, and my account isn’t frozen, although my debit card is toast. Back to buying things with checks and that other funny, paper-based method known as cash.

I always wanted to write a story about paying every bill I had with cash for, say, a month, just to see if it made me spend any differently. Over the years I’ve gradually transitioned into debit-plastic for everything, and online for everything else. My mother used to remark on the separate line at her credit union on payday, for those who were literally cashing their entire paycheck. Who would do such a thing? I wondered. “Installers,” she said. (She worked for the phone company.)

Alan’s parents paid all their bills in person every month. It was an outing — go downtown, buy groceries, pay the electric bill. They didn’t get a checking account until he went to college. It was a common behavior at the time for working-class people. Then all the working-class people got credit cards and home equity lines of credit, and you know how that worked out.

OK, a li’l bloggage?

Tom & Lorenzo give the little girl with the hard-to-spell name who was in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” a baby WERQ for her outfit at the Oscars nominee luncheon. It’s the purse that sells it.

Interesting essay on guns, from NYMag.

And now it is Wednesday. Let us get over the hump in one piece.

Posted at 12:32 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' |
 

62 responses to “Work will set you free.”

  1. Sherri said on February 6, 2013 at 1:13 am

    My credit card got hacked a few years ago, we think probably from a card skimmer at a gas station. Suddenly we had charges from Italy and Spain on our card. We had had that card since 1992 with the same number(!), and had to change it. The biggest pain was tracking down all the places that charged the card automatically – quite a few had accumulated over the years. The monthly ones were easy, but ones that charged every few months (like the newspaper) were harder to find.

  2. Dave said on February 6, 2013 at 2:12 am

    Three weeks ago Sunday, Discover contacted us. They wanted to know if we’d purchased seven identical items in Englewood, OH (Dayton suburb). No, but someone did with my wife’s Discover card, seven purchases of $105.42 each at a Walmart.

    She still had her card in her purse. I don’t really understand how they can do that but I know they’re doing it and it happened to us. It’s so disgusting that they continue to get away with it. We tried to think where she might have used it and really didn’t come up with anything, we had to wonder if it had possibly been stolen electronically like we’ve read about.

    We’ve talked about using our debit card less and have given up using it at gas stations. Hardly anyone I ever see in a grocery store pays cash these days, everyone whips out a card.

  3. brian stouder said on February 6, 2013 at 6:55 am

    That photograph went through me like a knife.

  4. David C. said on February 6, 2013 at 7:45 am

    I’ve had my credit card number stolen twice in the past three years. I was lucky though. Both times, the credit card company caught it before any real damage was done. I guess the sudden appearance of purchases from Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Argentina on a card that is rarely used tipped them off. I am still flummoxed as to how anyone got my number. As I said, I rarely use my credit cards, so skimmers aren’t likely. It had to hackers of some kind.

  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 6, 2013 at 8:18 am

    At the Citadel, all goods are exchanged using cartridges as a means of establishing value. A deer carcass for ten fully loaded shotgun shells, a tanned hide for five 9 mm loads, and a soft pair of moccasins made to order for a box of .223 rounds. None of this plastic & number foolishness of soft civilization, so-called. And if I want to steal something from you, I do it like a man, face-to-face, by main strength . . . and if I fail to seize what I want, and you prevail, my womenfolk prepare my body and bury it in the earth in a shroud that just costs a pouch full of buckshot.

    Puny liberals and their debit cards. Hah.

  6. Mark P said on February 6, 2013 at 8:43 am

    I have been impressed by Discover’s ability to identify suspicious credit card purchases. On occasions when I make unusual purchases I call them to let them know what I’m going to do.

  7. maryinIN said on February 6, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Just every so often my credit card company calls me to see if I really did charge $1.00 to ITunes at 2:30 AM last night! If I did not, then we have to change the number, as someone is testing the card number to see if the charge goes through so they know they can charge more on it. When we went to Italy this year, we got a new ATM card that is not a debit card just to feel safer about this type of security. The bank doesn’t seem to advertise that these are available.

  8. MarkH said on February 6, 2013 at 9:12 am

    American Express is also very good about tracking unauthorized use and does the same thing. One evening I received a phone call from them, and after we confirmed each other’s identity, they asked to confirm some recent “unusual purchases”. After cancelling the card and issuing a new one, the rep said these small denomination transactions were classic “probe purchases”. If the card was still valid after several of these, then the big ones, TVs, other large ticket items would have been next. Ironically, this hack was sourced to the web store of Kiwanis International. I have seriously curtailed my debit card use in favor of credit cards for the reasons Nancy posted.

  9. Connie said on February 6, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Sheriff Arpaio in Phoenix recently had HIS Discover card hacked.

    The self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America” has apparently been the victim of credit card fraud, and the thief used the account at a Chicago grocery store.

    Maricopa County authorities in Phoenix said Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s credit card information was stolen and used to make a $291 transaction at a Jewel store last weekend.

    Arpaio said he hasn’t been to Chicago since 1957 and that Discover Card representatives alerted him to possible fraudulent activity.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/50710422#.URJllPJhc_w

  10. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 6, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Tell me the receipt was for 40 jugs of Tide.

  11. Deborah said on February 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

    The first time my husband used the on-line banking option we got hacked about an hour later. We have no way of knowing if the two are related but it seems obvious to us. About $400 was stolen but we got it back. We never use the on-line banking option, ever.

  12. Julie Robinson said on February 6, 2013 at 9:34 am

    There’s a whole new wave of people converting their paychecks into cash and dividing it into envelopes, just like many of our parents did. They’ve been through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University classes, usually at church, and many of them turn into Ramsey bots*, not unlike ditto heads.

    Many of the principles I agree with, such as the emphasis on saving and not carrying debt. These are helpful to people living beyond their means because their spending is out of control.

    But he loses me when he prohibits using credit cards for anything. There are people who should cut up their plastic, but used wisely, credit cards can be a smart choice. You get a layer of consumer protection that is lacking in cash, checks, or debit. Often your warranty is doubled, and you have the power of charge back if a business is engaging in fraudulent behavior and trying to push you around. A no-fee rewards card that you pay in full every month can give a higher rate of return than money in a savings account.

    My real problem with Dave Ramsey is his endorsements of other companies. If you want insurance or legal work, you’re supposed to go to one of his guys. There’s even a gold buy-back scheme. IMHO, his classes look like a mechanism to direct people to these other companies. Any bets he has a financial interest in them? It doesn’t pass the smell test.

    *One of them running in a local mayoral race kept insisting we could run government budgets like our home budgets. As. If.

  13. Mark P said on February 6, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Julie, I have pretty much the same feelings about Dave Ramsey. A great deal of his advice is good, solid financial advice. Some of it is questionable, like the prohibition of credit cards, but I understand that he’s dealing with people who can’t control their credit card use, so an absolute prohibition makes sense. And some of his stuff is pure, non-christian, right-wing nuttery. Like when he says that when a boyfriend comes calling on his daughter, he would tell the boyfriend to have his daughter home by some particular time, and then remind the boyfriend that he (Dave) will be cleaning his gun. Really? Is threatening to kill someone for keeping his daughter out after curfew the christian thing to do? Even in jest? I don’t know whether he actually did this, or just tells callers about how protective he would be of his family, but still …

    At least he tells people that hoarding gold in preparation for the political and financial collapse of the US is stupid.

  14. maryinIN said on February 6, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Deborah, I am also not comfortable with on-line banking, especially after a banker advised me not to use it as there is much more hacking than we are aware of. Recently, though, another banker tried to talk me into making deposits by cell phone photo. I declined. Don’t really know how it works, but imagined myself forgetting and trying to deposit the same check twice and getting into trouble. My kids would like it, though, as they never go to the bank and don’t deposit checks for months. Besides, conveniences like this tend to eliminate jobs, like the self-service grocery store lines do.

  15. Peter said on February 6, 2013 at 10:15 am

    I am really old fashioned when it comes to debit cards and online banking. I STILL pay my mortgage by going to the bank, although the bank’s only a few blocks away and I use the drive through on my way to somewhere.

    I thought it would be a good idea to get a separate checking account for automatic payments – that way, if my main account gets hacked, I could open a new account without canceling a lot of stuff. I started that account with $150.00. Eight years ago. I still haven’t switched any automatic payments over to it.

  16. Mark P said on February 6, 2013 at 10:18 am

    The credit card hacking is strange. The only time I have been hacked was probably 10 years ago, and I think maybe it was someone in a restaurant who had physical access to my card when I paid for a meal. The idiot ordered something and then had it delivered to her own address. Doesn’t that sound like a dead giveaway? But these days, with huge databases of all kinds of information, including credit card numbers, a thief doesn’t have to have physical access to the card. And there is no way we, the consumers and users, can protect that information other than by not giving it to someone else — in other words, by not using the credit card.

    I would like to talk to someone in a credit card fraud department about their algorithms to detect fraudulent use. As I said, I’m impressed. It’s a classic case of pattern recognition, and I suspect that the large amounts of money involved have driven quite an advance in that area.

  17. Connie said on February 6, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Here’s a dead giveaway story for you.

    A co-worker and his roommates lost several laptops in a home break-in. (ROgirl it was in Royal Oak.) One of the roomies had her laptop set up to automatically upload all photos taken with it to her dropbox account.

    From that drop box account she has now provided the detective on the case with photos of the presumed burglar and his kitties.

  18. MichaelG said on February 6, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I travel a lot which is very difficult to do without a credit card. Airlines, hotels and rental car places are simply not set up to deal in cash. I suppose it can be done but it sure would be a pain. Also one would have to carry a huge amount of cash or traveler’s checks. Traveler’s checks have their own pain in the assedness. No thanks. I’ll continue to use a credit card. I just pay it in total every month. Also paying bills on line is so quick and easy. I’m spoiled.

  19. Charlotte said on February 6, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I use online banking for everything — and for running my mother’s bills (her social security comes in, I pay everything so her electricity doesn’t get turned off again). And I have used it for a good fifteen years now — for me, the layer of transparency where I can see everything immediately saves my ass — also, automatic payments saved my credit rating because I couldn’t forget. Wouldn’t work for my sweetheart who is a contractor since he doesn’t get paid regularly like I do.

    Had my credit card hacked a couple of times but the bank caught it both times. The worst offender was my dad — turned out he’d been using my brother’s name and social security number since Patrick was a baby — P wound up taking my mother’s surname after he got it all straightened out. It was that he’d *always* done it that really chapped P’s ass — “really? I opened an account at Marshall Fields when I was 2?”

  20. Kim said on February 6, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Maybe this makes me a horrible person, but I thought the graffiti people were shooting for provocative irony. It fails because the collapse of the auto industry isn’t the same as people stolen from their homes because of some nut and his followers. So that Goldman guy fails, too, on his second point.

    Those of you who have been to one of the concentration camps (long ago I saw Dachau, with its “arbeit macht frei” gates) know those gates are chilling. Worse, to me, is where these camps were situated: on the edge of neighborhoods, through which the Jews and others sometimes had to walk from the train station and over which the smoke from incinerators wafted. The things humans can do to one another is appalling.

  21. nancy said on February 6, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I’ve never been to one of these places, but I’ve been told that too, Kim, and it’s always bugged me. These places weren’t hidden; they were in plain sight within spitting distance of major cities. Amazing.

  22. Bitter Scribe said on February 6, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Once I was in a college class called “Nazi literature.” (It was literature about Nazis, not by them–if such a thing even exists.) We were discussing the Holocaust and one of us, a kid my age, said something to the effect of, how could the regular people not know? Why didn’t they do something?

    There was a bitter laugh, and we turned to this middle-aged woman in the class. She was from Germany and read all the works in German. She said, “And what would you have had us do, my young friend? Picket? Write letters to our congressman? We were living in a dictatorship. Do you know what that means? It means if you protested these matters, or even showed any interest in them, men with guns would come to your door in the middle of the night, take you away and kill you.”

    That put the kibosh on that kind of talk.

  23. Kim said on February 6, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Bitter Scribe and Nance – yes, that dictatorship meant those who spoke out would be killed. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. One (more) of the truly disturbing artifacts from Dachau was the collection of photographs taken from some resident’s attic window. It depicted, in grainy black and white, the line of prisoners walking into Dachau. I recall the text accompanying the photos said the film was liberated long after Dachau; its owner feared reprisal, which of course meant death.

    Many residents were prisoners, too. But the Nazis didn’t get their foothold because of one charismatic leaders. It took a public willing for whatever reasons to ignore or make excuses for the early evil.

  24. nancy said on February 6, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Or, to put it more musically:

  25. Mark P said on February 6, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Yes, but Bitter Scribe, how many of those powerless people voted for the Nazi Party in the first place?

  26. Kim said on February 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I think it’s the people who don’t vote who really decide.

  27. adrianne said on February 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    On credit card hacking – had a story in today’s paper on FBI busting up a ring that used thousands of fake identifies to steal at least $200 million. It was centered in – where else? – Jersey City. Hudson County, of which Jersey City is part of, was so famous for casting votes from dead people that former NJ Gov. Brendan Byrne used to joke that when he died, he wanted to be buried in Hudson County “so I can remain active in politics.”

  28. Bitter Scribe said on February 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Yes, but Bitter Scribe, how many of those powerless people voted for the Nazi Party in the first place?

    Not as many as you might think. A lot of people don’t realize that Hitler never got more than about one-third of the popular vote in any free election. It was the screwed-up German parliamentary system and the weakness of the octogenarian Hindenburg that allowed him to take power.

    Something I forgot to mention before: This thing at the Packard plant is a great example of why I despise almost all so-called “conceptual artists.”

  29. Dave said on February 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Charlotte, your father reminds me of my friend going back nearly twenty years, whose wife, a longtime schoolteacher, no less, took out credit card accounts in their son’s name. I’m not sure of the time period but the family discovered it and all she had hidden when the son and his wife applied for a mortgage and found that his credit rating was terrible. His mother had wrecked his credit.

    It led to an ugly family breakup.

  30. Scout said on February 6, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I thought it was common knowledge that debit cards should not be used for purchases as the money comes directly out of your account. Yes, you can get it back if you can prove fraud, but by then it is possible for the theft to create all kinds of phuckery with legit payments you may have made. Always use a credit card because you can dispute anything not yours and you haven’t already paid out the money.

  31. Bitter Scribe said on February 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Always use a credit card because you can dispute anything not yours and you haven’t already paid out the money.

    Alternatively, have the debit card processed as a credit card. You get all the advantages of using a debit card with all the protections of a credit card.

  32. coozledad said on February 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    “Tommorrow Belongs to Me” would have been a great presidential campaign song for Schwarzenegger. Remember when the Republicans wanted to change citizenship requirements to run him?
    The scion of Austrian Nazis shoehorned in during a wave of know-nothingism?
    Nah. Could never have happened.

  33. basset said on February 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I used to listen to Dave regularly, even went to one of his arena events. His basic message – spend less than you earn – is indeed useful, and the calls from people who had run up insane debts on credit cards were interesting, but he got so aggressively right-wing and conservative Christian, and loaded up each hour with so many commercials, that I got tired of fighting through it to hear the stories.

    Dave has a nice building next to a mall out in a high-end suburb, though, sells lots of books and a couple of mutual friends say he’s a good guy… I wouldn’t take that gun-cleaning comment too seriously.

  34. Mark P said on February 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Bitter Scribe, I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’m going to give a free pass to any German who lived within sight of a death camp and did nothing.

  35. Bitter Scribe said on February 6, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Mark P: When your choices are “doing nothing” and “martyrdom,” the vast majority choose the former. The latter become saints, metaphorically if not literally. But first they become dead. Are you so sure that you would have been a saint?

  36. brian stouder said on February 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Mark P – your point is interesting,
    and I might have been tempted to agree with it, four weeks ago. Next week will be the fifth (and final) 2 hour lecture (or class) on the Holocaust (or Shoah) presented by a very interesting and intelligent local teacher, named Mr Linquist. Our 17 year old’s US History teacher has his class attending them, and parents were also invited.

    The teacher of the course has been to Germany many times, and he has visited most of the big death camps, as well as the US Holocaust museum, and he has conducted this same course of study each year, for many years.

    Last night one of the few Holocaust survivors who lives in Fort Wayne, a very pleasant older woman with bright eyes and a ready smile said a few words about her experience as a 9 year old enduring the maelstrom.

    Anyway, one of the first things we covered, back on evening #1, was the concept of 5 general types of people who were inextricably ensnared in the Holocaust:

    Collaborators
    Bystanders
    Rescuers
    Victims
    Perpetrators

    And of those 5, I’m pretty sure that if I was alive then, and the Holocaust crept into my town on little cat’s feet, I’d almost certainly have been a Bystander. If you’re a mom or a dad, will you actually do something that may directly and catastrophically affect your family? Would you chance the lives of your sons and daughters? And indeed, as damnable (and indispensable to the malefactors, as far as that goes) as a “bystander” is – still, they’re head and shoulders better than the collaborators, who actively pointed out targeted groups and ferreted out people in hiding.

    A serious look at the Holocaust reminds a person that human beings are pretty terrible; and indeed, all human civilization (let alone civility) seems always to be built on a trap-door, and some bastard is ALWAYS ready to pull the lever

  37. Bitter Scribe said on February 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Primo Levi, a Holocaust victim who ended up committing suicide, said something to the effect that everyone who survived the death camps had been forced to do something that would make them feel shame and guilt their entire lives. I wonder if, to a lesser extent, that’s true of everyone who survives a genocidal regime.

  38. Mark P said on February 6, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Everything we say today about what we would or wouldn’t have done is conjecture. But no matter how good the reason might seem not to have done anything, the guilt remains. In my opinion there is no way out of that. To excuse inaction is to invite it to happen again.

  39. Sherri said on February 6, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Dave Ramsey is a salesman. He used to sell real estate, now he sells himself. His financial advice is basically sound, but he’s a Christian financial Dr. Phil. I’ve heard his radio show, and my church offers Financial Peace University, though I’ve never taken it. I’m not saying he’s a snake oil salesman; I think it’s probably helpful for people who’ve never figured out the basic rule of money: spend less than you make.

  40. LAMary said on February 6, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    The gas station down the hill from my house had an employee who installed one of those card reader things on the gas pumps. Since it’s the only gas station between the hill and the freeway entrance, pretty much everyone in the neighborhood got hit with lots of bogus charges.

  41. Julie Robinson said on February 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Sherri, when I saw Ramsey’s photo Dr. Phil was my first thought!

    Our daughter visited one of the camps in Poland and she said it rendered her speechless for a day. We were in Washington DC shortly after the Holocaust Museum opened and we couldn’t get in to several of the exhibits, but even the children’s area was a lot to process. I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to give my life, of course I hope I would have, but I’m not going to be the judge of others.

    Someone here once recommended In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, by Erik Larson, and it’s well worth a read. Too many people just didn’t believe what was really happening, despite all the evidence very early on. It’s chilling to think how many died needlessly.

  42. brian stouder said on February 6, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    And, not for nothing, but in that very same time-frame, American citizens were rounded up like cattle, and relocated into “internment camps” because of the nationality of their kin. And also not-for-nothing, but in that same time-frame, German prisoners of war in the American south were allowed to eat at lunch counters where native-born Americans with dark skin were banned from eating. So indeed, how many steps removed from the paradigm of

    Collaborators
    Bystanders
    Rescuers
    Victims
    Perpetrators

    was America?

  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 6, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Flannery O’Connor said of a character “She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.”

  44. Danny said on February 6, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I had a last-minute concert invitation last night from a work buddy for The Who’s “Quadrophenia and More..” tour. They were absolutely brilliant. Quadrophenia is my favorite studio album by them.

    During the concert, they did some very tasteful video homages to Moon and Entwhistle. I suspect this may be their last big tour. That makes me quite sad, but it is funny to think that the first time I saw them was at their first farewell tour in 1982.

  45. Bitter Scribe said on February 6, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Flannery O’Connor said of a character “She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.”

    Who couldn’t?

  46. maryinIN said on February 6, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Amidst the awful horror of the Holocaust, I feel sure, without any evidence, that there were also acts of loving kindness performed in secret. There has to be good along with evil, otherwise for what reason do we strive instead of giving up?

  47. brian stouder said on February 6, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    True.

  48. ROGirl said on February 6, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    My bank gives you the following option: if you want a paper copy of your statement every month you have to pay for it, otherwise it’s available online.

    I was on my junior year abroad when I went to Munich. We took the overnight train from Paris and arrived early in the morning. We had to wait for the tourist office to open and as I was wandering around the train station I was stopped by an official (might have been a plainclothes officer, can’t quite remember) and told to produce some identification. Wilkommen im Deutschland, jude.

    We went to Dachau on the local train line. There were brochures explaining that Dachau had a long and non-controversial history before it took on other connotations. Everything at the camp now has been built since the war — it was all destroyed back then. At Dachau there was a movie presentation and visuals that seemed to emphasize that a lot of people besides Jews ended up there.

    While in Munich we also went to the Olympic village, where the Israeli athletes were taken hostage and killed.

    The beer at the Hofbrauhaus was really good.

  49. Catherine said on February 6, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Bitter @35 asks, “Are you so sure that you would have been a saint?” I would ask, “Are you so sure you would have been a bystander?”

    The difference between a bystander and what they call in Facing History and Ourselves an “upstander,” is mysterious to me. Many upstanders weren’t people obviously of great courage or conviction. There are some terrific true stories in graphic novel format here: http://dep.disney.go.com/theyspokeout/. I think all of us have it in us to be upstanders.

  50. Jeff Borden said on February 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    What WWII American general was it who made residents of a nearby village walk into a concentration camp and help bury the dead? Maybe Patton? It would suit his style.

    One of the depressing lessons of Erik Larson’s book is how lightly many diplomats took the Nazis in the 1930s. These wise old men were convinced the Germans would never follow such a hapless, ridiculous party led by a man many thought of as crazy. The Nazis were largely young and not very well educated. I could see how a seasoned diplomat with years of experience and training might not see the danger –at first– but by the time they caught on it was way too late.

    While there are still pockets of neo-Nazis and racist creeps in modern Germany, the nation’s sense of shame and its recognition of the horrors it brought upon the world stand in stark contrast to Japan, where textbooks still depict WW II as a war in which Japan was the aggrieved, not the aggressor. And god knows the Japanese at war were as savage as any Nazi SS outfit.

  51. Deborah said on February 6, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    One time we got some meds for Little Bird in Canada via phone, she had gone to this place previously on a bus that was arranged by a political canidate running for some office in Missouri, I can’t remember. Anyway we had to give a credit card number over the phone which I did. A few weeks later when we got the credit card statement Shakespeare theater tickets had been purchased at a place in the Canadian city where the meds had been purchased. It was obvious that it was somehow connected. We watched the statements closely after that but nothing else had been purchased and we decided not to report the theft since we figured whoever did it really wanted to see this Shakespeare play. We reported the card as being lost and got a new number instead. Maybe we are just gullible.

  52. Dexter said on February 6, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    The translation that was told to me was “Work Makes Man Free”. I heard that over 40 years ago, and every time I trudged my ass through the factory gates , under the sign that proclaimed “YOU make the BEST clutch in the world!” I thought of the sign over Auschwitz.
    See, some folks actually enjoyed coming to the factory six, seven days a week, working holidays, working 12, 16 hour days to grub-up that overtime pay… I did it for the money only.
    When elders tell young-uns to strive to find a job they enjoy, I hope the young people listen. But hey…few kids have to worry about ending up in factories these days anyway, cuz there hain’t none.

  53. Deborah said on February 6, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I worked with a young man who was Japanese, who was in the US because the architecture firm I worked for had an exchange program with a Japanese firm. He told me that after the war the Japanese people just put that whole experience out of their minds as if it never happened. As if they just said never mind and went on. He was too young to have first hand experience of it but he said his parents and those of that generation never spoke of it, and those in his generation knew that it was not something they should acknowledge. Of course this was just one young man’s opinion but I thought it was interesting.

  54. Prospero said on February 6, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Ms. Wallis is capable of becoming a great actress if she chooses. And anybody that hasn’t seen Beasts of the Southern Wild yet, it’s available for rent, online and maybe otherwise. One of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time, and a remarkabloriginal feat of imagination. Jennifer Lawrence will probably win the Oscar. She was excellent in a very good movie. But if I could vote, I’d vote for Quvenzhane. And whoever did her hair for that photo op was clearly thinking of Shirley Temple.

    My understanding of modern-day German attitudes towards their grandparents’ and parents’complicity in the horrors of the concentration camps is influenced directly by the novels of Gunter Grass, who is sometimes ambivalent about it, when he isn’t blaming it on his forbears. Grass is the prophet not recognized in his own land, despite being one of the 20th Cenuty’s greatest writers.His attitude about what he would have doneseems to me to be expressed in Oskar’s throwing himself headfirst into the cellar to prevent himself from ever growing up, avoidance. Having taken a few severe police beatings over civil rights and in Grant Park over the Vietnam War, I tell myself I would have resisted the Nazis in some way. Sugar in Panzer fuel tanks sounds good. Works on earth moving equipment.

    Wells Fargo shut down my debit card on a Friday pm a few weeks ago, based mainly, I guess, on my wastrel Christmas spending. An entire weekend without any means of buying anything. I’ve got a couple of Benjamins taped to the bottom of a desk drawer now, in case the aholes do it again. This should not be a problem. I use the signature method for purchases with the card. Vendors are supposed to check the signature against the card. When was the last time that happened? For me, it was several years ago in a Hallmark shop. I had to answer a bunch of questions about what I bought when to get the card restored to use. A severe pain in my ass. One more reason to change banks. WF is a major robosigning foreclosure culprit anyway.

    I’d say that whatever makes a martyr is all on the books by the time the killing happens.

    Happy anniversary, Blizzard of ’78. We’ve got a framed print of the Minot Lighthouse photo, and I still have an “I survived…” Tshirt. Damn, that was an adventure I’m glad I didn’t miss. Thank God for Molson Golden and Old Mr. B cherry brandy.

  55. Joe K said on February 6, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Jeff,
    I do believe it was Gen Patton,
    This was after he toured the camp, and then threw up.
    Pilot Joe

  56. Prospero said on February 6, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    I don’t know about making the Dachau villagers bury the concentration camp victims. Didn’t Raygun say he did that?

  57. ROGirl said on February 6, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    A book that documents the actions of many “ordinary” Germans during the war is “Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust” by Daniel Goldhagen.

  58. MichaelG said on February 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    You can pick up the carnations you’ve been throwing to the Boy Scouts. They’ve delayed until May their vote on making gay acceptance a local option. Even then passage is questionable.

  59. MarkH said on February 6, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    It wasn’t just Patton, but Bradley and Ike visited Buchenwald as well. Among them, particularly Eisenhower, they made sure the local residents of Weimar were marched to the camp and witness its carnage. The Buchenwald camp and its satellites were surrounded by trees in the woods five miles from Weimer. I, too, thought I read that the residents were forced to help bury the corpses. Here is a website with descriptions of the liberation. Edward R. Murrow’s account is here as well.

    http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Buchenwald/Exhibits.html

  60. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 6, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Arrrrgghhh. The national council kicked the can to May. Brilliant. Color me a rainbow of not happy.

    Intriguingly, our local paper ended up not running a story on the local reactions to Scouting’s consideration of a change because there was only one clergyperson and/or Scout leader who would give them a quote on the record, and that was a single clergyman and assistant Scoutmaster and council board member who also writes a weekly column for them. Seriously, the guy working on the story called at least a dozen clergy who would be expected to be on either side of the decision and not one wanted to be quoted being for OR against it. I knew the managing editor wouldn’t want me quoted in the piece at all, so I made sure to give the reporter at least three for certain “pro-change” clergy, and none were willing — but six other for sure “agin’ it” clergy and a couple of priests were all “no comment.”

    So I have NO idea what influences will surge most strongly the next three months. None. And on the local council level, we’ve never understood what national is up to anyhow. Just the occasional cryptic directive every so often, and the hope that they’re hearing us out in the field.

  61. Prospero said on February 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Even for FuxNews, Steve Dooshey is a gaping asshole:

    http://www.thegloss.com/2013/02/06/beauty/hillary-clinton-facelift/

    Ashley Judd vs. Turdblossom and Senator Yertle:

    http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/02/06/smackdown-ashley-judd-vs-karl-rove/

  62. Linda said on February 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Bitter Scribe @37:

    It has been noted that there have been a number of prominent Holocaust survivors, including Dr. Bruno Bettelheim, committed suicide. As to your speculation about survivors of other genocide, that may well be true. In the Rwandan genocide of the 90s, many Hutus were threatened with the horrible death of themselves and their loved ones if they did not participate in killing Tutsis.

    As for the sign over the Packard plant, I “credit” that to half-witted ruin porn jerks. Do these people have any awareness that those ruins once fed families? That they are the ruins of things that are meaningful to people who are alive and walking around, and not a funhouse created for their amusement? Probably not.

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