Journey in a Circle Houston to Dubno to Dallas to Austin AUSTIN The other evening in Hous f ton a small discussion group that meets in the homes of the friends considered the Nuremburg trials. All I really heard was the emotion of two Jewish friends there. One of them said, “What’s all this nonsense about the legality of the trials ? If they had killed every German, it would not have avenged the things they did.” My mind went back to a book, Gestapo, by historian Edward Crankshaw. In Austin I have found it again. Page 117, Himmler : “Anti-Semitism is exactly the same as delousing. Getting rid of lice is not a question of ideology, it is a matter of cleanliness.” Page 132, Engineer Hermann Graebe, in a Nuremburg affidavit : “The S.S. men and militia broke the windows, forced the doors with beams and crowbars, and entered the houses. . . . Since the Jews in most cases rewith strokes of the whip, kicks, and blows from rifle butts . . . in the streets women cried out for their children and children for their parents … Women carried their dead children in their arms, children pulled and dragged their dead parents by their arms and legs down the road toward the train. . . . At the corner of a house lay a baby, less than a year old, with his skull crushed.” Graebe attended a mass execution of Jews at Dubno on Oct. 5, 1942. Page 134 ; he said at Nuremburg: “. . . an old woman with snow-white hair was holding this one-year-old child in her arms and singing and tickling it. The child was cooing with delight. The parents were looking on with tears in their eyes. The father was holding the hand of a boy about ten years old and speaking to him softly; the boy was fighting his tears. The father pointed towards the sky, stroked the boy’s head, and seemed to explain something to him. At that moment the S.S. man at the pit shouted something to his comrade. The latter counted off about twenty persons and instructed them to go behind the earth mound. The family I have described was among them. I well remember the girl, slim and with black hair, who, as she passed me, pointed to herself and said, `Twenty-three years old.’ “I then walked around the mound and found myself confronted by a tremendous grave. People were closely wedged together and lying on top of each other so that only their heads were visible. Nearly all had blood running over their shoulders from their heads. Some of the people shot were still moving. Some lifted their arms and turned their heads to show that they were alive. The pit was already two-thirds full. I estimated that it held a thousand people. I looked for the man who did the shooting. He was an S.S. man who sat at the edge of the narrow end of the pit, his feet dangling into it. He had a tommy gun on his knees and was smoking a cigarette. The people they were completely nakedwent down some steps which were cut in the clay wall of the pit and clambered over the heads of those who were lying there to the place to which the S.S. man directed them. They lay down in front of the dead and wounded. Some caressed the living and spoke to them in a low voice. Then I heard a series of shots. I looked into the pit and saw that their bodies still twitched or that their heads lay motionless on top of the other bodies before them. Blood ran from their necks.” A gentle Jewish girl at the discussion group said she realized she was irrational on the subject, but she could not stand the thought of Germans. The talk turned after a while to Texas ; it took that turn one feels sometimes in the conversations of intellectuals which means, “Texas is barbaric, and the people unbelievably backward.” A German American told of a short story he wrote in college about the situation the King Ranch found itself in when it was discovered that people spread disease to cattle. The King Ranch decided the logical solution was to exterminate the people and lobbied a bill through to accomplish this, leaving the state populated with herds of cattle and bobbing oil wells operated by buttons from New York. The Jewish girl said, ‘I’d like to push a button from New York and wipe the whole state out.” I told her she would make a fine New York German. ON THE WAY to Arlington, outside Fairfield on Highway 75, raining and dark in the night, as in an apparition suddenly up ahead there was a tangle of red lights flashing and staring, and white lights waving side to side, and the hulking sides of trucks, and people moving about. As I weaved through I saw the two wrecked cars, one with the back end torn away; the other smashed in front, and four people sitting inside, staring, in the carlight. An ambulance had just left with the woman from the highway. She had left part of herself there. A farmer in a blue rough khaki shirt and a bright red straw hat over a long sharp-angled face said he had happened to be in the cow pasture over there and heard it and called the ambulance. She had ‘talked on the highway, begging him to pick her up. In front of some headlights three upset men in a panic of sympathy planned to get the other four to a hospital. We helped them move from the wreck to a volunteered Buick. I carried their coats and purses, and a pair of small shoes. There was a little boy about eight, wrapped in a blanket, so LITTLE ROCK An assortment of semi-literate redneck parsons and such other spokesmen as the extremists claim have laid the blame for Little Rock’s troubles on “integrationist ministers.” A number of people have undertaken to defend the clergy from his canard. The clergy itself had mostly been in its closet praying, out conducting building drives and rummage sales, or doing quiet good works. Then, last week, on the same day that New Orleans started its vendetta with the future, a committee of the Arkansas Council of Churches emerged with a resolution. “We pledge ourselves to work to secure the removal of this \(lunch barriers to full citizenship. “We commend these young people fine spirit of non-violence, their use of moral force to gain this worthy objective, and their willingness to suffer imprisonment as a means of manifesting their rebellion against civic and social injustice.” Some Alger Gags A new addition to the Dallas political scene is the “Let’s Laugh at Bruce” gags. An SMU professor has framed on his wall an “Ode to Bruce,” a quotation from Gerald W. Johnson’s biography of John Randolph, Virginia conservative of the early 1800’s. “He did not know how to be supple and sinewy,’ yielding a point here to gain a more important one there, conquering by using the strength of his enemy. His only plan was to conquer by being rigid ; and little by little his rigidity took on the aspect of rigor mortis.” Bill Alexander, the caustic-tongued assistant district attorney, says, “Two more terms and we’ll be getting mail on a Star Route out of Fort Worth.” scared he could only whimper. I tried to reassure him. They were driven off. A man told how the boA was hurt inside, and complained of the pain when he was lifted up. It was not a question of responsibility. They were hurting. We were there. We wanted to help them. O N THE NEWSSTAND in Dallas, in Life, here was Adolph Eichmann telling why, although “a man of average character, with good qualities and many faults,” he transported millions of Jews “to the camps to the butcher.” He would have been a despicable pig, he said, to have disobeyed the orders. He never gave a single “annihilation order. We were responsible only for deportation.” Nor was he an anti-Semite, he explains ; “I was just politically opposed to Jews because they were stealing the breath of life from us.” However, he did have to watch an execution. “It was impressive to see them all jumping into the pit without offering any resistance whatsoever. Then the men of the squad banged away into the pit with their rifles and machine pistols. “Why did that scene linger so long in my memory? Perhaps because I had children myself. And there were children in that pit. I saw a woman hold a child of a year or two into ‘the air, pleading. At that moment all I wanted to say was, ‘Don’t shoot, hand over the child . . .’ Then the child was hit. “I was so close that later I found bits of brains splattered on my long leather coat. My driver helped me remove them. Then we returned to .Berlin.” That was the core of the resolution received by the Council from its committee on Christian life. The resolution also advocated de-segregation of the schools and attacked all forms of racial discrimination as incompatible with “our Christian consciences and our Democratic professions.” It was part of a committee report submitted by Dr. J. Frank Henderson, a committee membeiand Little Rock Negro Presbyterian minister who has a daughter attending the white Central High School. It was received by an unabashedly integrated audience of about 150. T WAS DISCLOSED that the resolution had been passed by the committee April 20 but never made public, until the annual Council meeting. Apparently, the management had been waiting for the political season to pass. The announcement of the committee’s position is significant. The Council, which has for so long been so quiet, has decided that it is now possible to speak up in Arkansas. The report of the committee was not put to a vote of the Council, apparently because of a procedural inadvertence. Dr. Joseph B. Hunter, the Council’s executive secretary,. has said that he nevertheless considers it to have become an expression of the Council’s viewpoint. Other Council officials have agreed with the secretary. Dr. Hunter noted that there was no dissent from the report. Everyone attending the meeting got a copy of it, in a mimeographed booklet out lining the programs and attitudes of the Council’s various agencies. The Council is made up of nine denominational groups representing white and Negro Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Disciples of Christ. Membership is estimated at 300,000, but the Council is careful to point out that it doesn’t speak for individual church members. Admitting that, during his subsequent management of the exportation of the Hungarian Jews, there may have been abuses of the Jews, Eichmann reasoned : “But that did not and could not interest me, because it was not my responsibility.” Dallas is a vertical city. Men decide daily in cube-rooms on the elevator flats. However, they have clearly limited responsibilities, and only the whole system is responsible for the whole system. One cannot be liable for suffering beyond his jurisdiction. Negroes living in East Texas, for example, clearly are not the concern of the personnel manager of the Republic National Bank. Slum dwellers in West San Antonio are not the concern of the Dallas timetable manager of, say, Missouri-Pacific. The cook at Hank’s Bar-B-Que cannot be concerned about the malnutrition of a South Texas migrant child. Can he? People in my daily life, all around me, would have been capable, under orders, of releasing the gas into the chambers; I could have done it, too, I am a rational man, and have rationalized wrongs before. WHEN I GOT HOME, although he is only eight my boy Gary told me he wants a typewriter for Christmas. In the afternoon he was sitting on the floor at the edge of a coffee table in the living room, typing one-fingered with deep concentration. He brought this to me then. “The sky is blue. I love my mother. I like to shoot guns. We are shur glad that Kennedy won. I won the prize. I would like to go to war. The papper is white. We have ten rooms in our house. I like to read Lassie books. “The birds are shur singing a lot.” R.D. The Catholic Church in Arkansas has taken stands on racial matters that also are revolutionary by the standards of the body politic, but these have not been so specific as the Council o f Churches’ statement. Bishop Fletcher of Little Rock has called discrimination immoral and a sin. The Arkansas Baptist State Convention also has aired some highly theoretical attitudes. The Baptists are, of _course, far and away the leading denomination in the state. The Council’s statement arrived well ahead of popular conviction on racial matters. There may be some splintered churches in Arkansas because of the committee report and perhaps some minor splintering of the denominational groups themselves. A NUMBER of individual ministers are going to have to affirm or deny personally the committee position, and to take such consequences as arise. These will be tiny little epics, almost entirely unreported, in which men wrestle their God, their conscience and their congregations. Since the statement became public the segregationists have been silent. Their responses, when they do come, are predictable enough. “God was the original segregationist,” one of them has proclaimed. But there is little evidence that Arkansans are in a mood to listen to extremism. The New Orleans tragedy seems educational here in a way that the Little Rock crisis was not, at least to those who most needed the education. There is the perspective of distance; a brawl is generally more instructive to disinterested bystanders than to participants or their ‘kinfolk. PATRICK J. OWENS THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 5 Nov. 25, 1960 AN ARKANSAS RESOLUTION
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