HOLOCAUST STORIES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I was born in New York City in 1949, just a few years after the end of WWII. My parents and grandparents, all Jewish, lived through WWII hearing horror stories about Jewish persecution and the concentration camps. They genuinely feared that if Germany won the war, a distinct possibility for much of the war, the ‘final solution’ for the Jews would spread all around the Nazi-controlled world. It was a scary time for everyone, but particularly for Jews, even in America.

My grandmother’s sister, Rachel had stayed in Russia, with one other sister, while her siblings and eventually her parents emigrated to the United States. They lived close to the western border, so when Hitler broke his pact with Russia and invaded, their town was one of the first to be taken. This was before the Russian army had even begun to mobilize. The Jews in their town were rounded up and put in the synagogue. The building was set on fire and anyone who tried to escape was shot.

Rachel’s oldest son was in school in Moscow at the time his family was murdered. After the war, organizations were formed all over the world to help Jews locate relatives and friends who were missing after the war. My grandmother spent years searching for her nephew, but no trace of him was ever found.

My grandmother as a young child (between her parents) with her siblings

My mother and grandmother were obsessed with the Holocaust when I was growing up. They read everything they could find on the persecution of Jews, and particularly about the concentration camps. I was given graphic books about the camps at around nine or ten years of age. Way too young, in my opinion.

But I also learned about the camps in another, more personal way. Two Czechoslovakian, identical twin sisters named Irina and Elena were good friends of my parents. They told us lots of stories about their time in concentration and work camps, including Auschwitz.

They were sixteen years old when they and their parents were put in overcrowded cattle cars, squashed together with other terrified Jews, and shipped to Auschwitz. They had no food, water or bathrooms for several days. People were crying and screaming. People got sick and died. The smells were unbearable. They arrived at the camp in horrible shape, physically as well as emotionally.

There was a line of Jews being processed into the camp. Dr. Joseph Mengele was at the front of the line with a whip which he used to indicate if a person should go to the left into the camp, or to the right, directly into the gas chambers.

He also picked people out of the line to be subjected to his horrible, sadistic ‘medical’ experiments – all done without anesthesia.

Dr. Josef Mengele, also called “The Angel of Death”

Irina and Elena tell how their lives were saved by a camp guard. The guard recognized that the girls were twins. He also knew that Dr. Mengele loved to do experiments on twins. This guard’s wife was also a twin so he took pity on the girls. He whispered to them that they should say that they were a year apart in age. Bewildered, the girls did as they were told and were sent to the camp, saving their lives. They also threw away their eyeglasses so they would be judged healthy and ready to work, thus avoiding the gas chamber.

I don’t remember all their stories about the camps. I remember that they were separated from their parents and didn’t know if they were even still alive till the end of the war. I also remember that a good friend of theirs, also a teenager, got sick. They tried to nurse her back to health. They even gave her part of their meager rations of food. But she died anyway and they were crushed.

They told us that they tried very hard to preserve some of their Jewish traditions – a reminder of life outside the camps. They feel this helped preserve their sanity and gave them the strength to survive. They and a few other friends would save up pieces of their daily bread so they could sneak off and have secret Shabbat ‘dinners’ and celebrate Passover at a makeshift Seder. They managed to find something to use as a tablecloth and maybe a candle, to make these celebrations as real as possible.

They were liberated by the Americans and the British at the end of the war. Miraculously, their parents survived (they had also been separated in the camp) and they were reunited. They were emaciated and weak and their heads had all been shaven. They went back to Czechoslovakia and began to recuperate and start a new life. Their hair began to grow back, which was a huge deal for the still young twins.

Tragically, Elena’s new life was cut short in 1948. She was arrested for being a communist, turned in by a ‘friend’. The Czech authorities shaved her head again and threw her into prison for another year. She had emotionally survived the camps but this was too much for her to handle. She had a complete mental breakdown in prison. She was mentally very fragile for the rest of her life. She went up and down emotionally and had many periods of serious meltdowns and crises. Her sister was at her side through all her problem periods, even when they lived in different parts of the world. They remained close the rest of their lives.

I made sure that my children understood the Holocaust, but in an age-appropriate way. When my daughter, Sarah, was around seven, we were in Germany and we visited the Dachau Concentration Camp, which is now a museum to the Holocaust. We answered any questions she had but didn’t push too much information on her. She came across a photo that got to her on a visceral level. It showed a child being torn away from its mother and the mother and child were frantically reaching for each other. Sarah was horrified when she realized that children were being separated from their parents. That’s what she could relate to at her age and it made an indelible impression on her.

Dachau Concentration Camp as a museum today

Both my children are adults now and know a lot about the Holocaust and World War II. Hopefully, they will make sure that their children never forget.

Hopefully, no one will forget.

BAD GOVERNMENTS TEND TO GET WORSE

“It is a lot harder to get rid of a bad government than to elect one,” said my Tasmanian friend.

It sure is. We  elected Trump — though I take issue with including me as I did not vote for Trump or anyone in his party. Ever. We opened the door and let them in. Getting them out again is going to be one huge mess. I wonder how we will do it, what with all the gerrymandering in the various electoral districts and a broken Electoral College.

First, you get elected.

My father used to remind me — regularly, as if I were otherwise going to forget — that the German people voted for Hitler. He didn’t thug his way into power. He ran for office and they voted for him.

We — as a nation — voted for Trump. Some voted for him out of some bizarre but well-intentioned belief that he might do some good. Others were just pissed off and they wanted to make a loud noise — and they most assuredly have done exactly that. Many voted for him by not voting at all, or voting for non-electable candidates, effectively skewing the election.

It wasn’t a national sweep where we all got together and thought he was “the right guy” for the job, but  the weird statistics managed to get it done.

Trump is the man pushing through laws we thought we’d beaten off. All the positive things we thought we’d accomplished turning to rubble. It’s going to be long road back.

Then, you pass some really evil legislation.

Like the Germans, we did it freely. No army pushing us. No thugs at our backs beating us down. There was a hint of potential thuggery, of course, but few of us directly experienced it. Now, welcome to a new world. Our world. We bought it, moved into it, and are living it. Hell isn’t theoretical anymore. We are in it.

Look what we’ve got. Laws which will in short order make the poor more poor, the middle class a lot closer to poor and a several hundred filthy rich people ridiculously even filthier and richer.

Laws which will make most of us less healthy, will kill many who remain. Children will die of easily controllable diseases, as will their parents and grandparents. Old people will starve and live in poverty without a safe place to live.

The roads and railways will crumble. Our last remaining places of beauty will become sump holes of oil hunters and fracking companies. Pollution will increase, the air will get less breathable. Jobs won’t trickle down.

Because poor people don’t spend money and without a demand for goods, no one will hire new workers or raise the wages of existing ones.

Many of us will do our best to keep our spirits up and stay on a better course. We will never stop hoping that something will happen to get us back on the right track. Maybe Fat Orange Head will keep eating those fried burgers until his heart stops pumping. He’s old enough, fat enough, and sluggish enough. We can hope. Maybe in the middle of a Tweet, his brain will finally melt down.

We dream of a better future.

Where are the new Democrats? Why do I always see the same old faces? Assuming we have the will to drive the current assholes out of office — who are we going to elect? When do we see the new faces to will lead us forward?

Most of us still believe this country is a democracy. Is it?

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE AND NAZIS, REDUX – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m writing this on Saturday August 12, 2017. I only mention this because I’ve noticed that many of the blogs I’ve written since November 8th 2016 about the  “Orange Fuehrer” (yup, I’m going there) which I thought were specific to that week or day, have become “evergreen”. By that I mean if it’s re-posted  six months later, it still seems like I wrote it yesterday. Today may be different.  But somehow, I doubt it.


Cognitive dissonance is defined as one mind simultaneously holding two or more conflicting beliefs, ideas or values.

I experienced a variation of that today. Ellin, my daughter Sarah and I went to see the movie “Dunkirk” this afternoon.

It’s a very good movie. It documents the reality of what 400,000 English troops experienced for a week. They were trapped by German forces at the beach of Dunkirk. The Germans, no excuse me, to be more specific, THE NAZIS, chose to send the Luftwaffe to bomb and shoot them like fish in a barrel.

They bombed RED CROSS HOSPITAL SHIPS FILLED WITH WOUNDED SOLDIERS! NAZI U-Boats sank every ship they could find overloaded with troops.  What eventually saved the English troops were hundreds and hundreds of private citizens. These people owned small fishing boats, small pleasure boats, any kind of boat, and sailed them across the English Channel, risking their lives to rescue British troops.

Churchill hoped to save 30,000 troops. Out of 400,000. The boats that went over rescued over 350,000. They had no guns. The troops only had rifles to fight back against U-Boats and dive bombers. Dunkirk was both one of the worst moments for the allies and the best moments for the allies. When the troops reached England, there was a volunteer who was handing out blankets to the soldiers. He told each one “Well done.”

One of the soldiers replied. “All we did was survive.” The man replied “Sometimes, that’s enough.” The NAZIS went on to do more horrific things before the war was over.

My point is. The Nazis were the bad guys. I mean, really REALLY BAD GUYS. It’s rare in human history to have really, really bad guys with no redeeming qualities. The best thing you could say about Hitler was that he was nice to his dog. And we sort of need really good bad guys. After the Nazis died out, we briefly had the Klingons.

They were really bad guys. Until Star Trek Next Generation where they became not so bad guys.

But Nazis? They have ALWAYS BEEN REALLY, REALLY BAD GUYS. Hell, in German schools, from grade school on up, they are upfront with their history. They make sure every German is aware of exactly what happened in WWII to make sure that it never happens again.

At least, in Germany.  I bring all of this up because when I came home from watching Dunkirk, I started watching the news. White nationalists, waving NAZI flags and Confederate flags, were rioting in Charlottesville at what they called a “Unite the Right” rally. A NAZI, drove a car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and wounding 19 others. These were not Germans. White men, born here.

I cannot call them Americans. Their leaders claim that “they are fulfilling the promises of Donald J. Trump. They are taking back America.”

They led a nighttime rally reminiscent of Hitler’s rallies of the 1930’s. But they did it in polo shirts and with  TIKI torches! TIKI torches! Are you kidding me??? I went to a Luau clam bake and a KKK rally broke out!

The Governor of Virginia gave a stirring speech saying that these NAZIS were not welcome in Virginia. They were not welcome in America. He is right.

What did our Asshole-In-Chief say? He said a lot of people are to blame — but never mentioned …. THE FUCKING NAZIS!!!!!

Here’s the dissonance.

We fought a war against these assholes. My dad and his generation served and died fighting against these assholes. For those few who are still alive, what must they think watching the news — today, Saturday, August 12th. 2017?

What has happened to us? NAZIS ARE THE BAD GUYS!

I usually try to be funny with my posts.

I try to find the humor in the insanity that has become our reality. But not today. Maybe tomorrow.

CHARLOTTESVILLE: I CAN’T BE SILENT. NONE OF US CAN. – (REBLOG) SEAN MUNGER

This is a well thought out, well written piece. Worth reading.


The last few days have made it very difficult to feel pride at being an American. The violence and hatred at a racist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, capped off by a terrorist attack by a Nazi killing and wounding innocent people, should horrify any thinking person. Add to this the deep and disturbing failure by President Donald Trump to denounce the Nazis and their toadies until it was too late to do any good, and what we have in the past few days is a picture of an America that is totally unacceptable. I haven’t been able to talk much about what happened in Charlottesville, but this is an issue of such importance that we all must speak out. Silence is consent, and I do not consent.

We can’t let these vile and hate-filled people take over our country–and they are trying mightily to do exactly that. They also think they’re succeeding, and that’s a problem. Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, misogynists, anti-Semites, GamerGaters, the “alt-right”–virtually to a man they see Donald Trump as a hero, someone who can advance their agenda of marginalizing people of color, women, the LGBT community, or really anyone who isn’t white, straight, male, conservative and thinks like them. The fact that Nazis were able to march in Charlottesville in what they perceived as triumph is itself an alarm bell for what’s happened to our country and our political discourse. Furthermore, these people want the kind of conflict with counter-protestors that got so much coverage this weekend. If someone dies, it’s good for them. Their ideology, just like the Nazism of the 1930s in Germany, is held together with blood. All of us must make sure that these people fail utterly and completely in their sick project to transform America into something evil.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP CLEARLY EMBOLDENS NAZIS AND OTHER RACISTS TO PUSH THEIR AGENDA. MOST MEMBERS OF THE “ALT-RIGHT” ADORE HIM AND SUPPORT HIM TO THE END.

See full article at: CHARLOTTSESVILLE: I CAN’T BE SILENT. NONE OF US CAN.

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE AND NAZIS – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m writing this on Saturday August 12, 2017. I only mention this because I’ve noticed that many of the blogs I’ve written since November 8th 2016 about the  “Orange Fuehrer” (yup, I’m going there) which I thought were specific to that week or day, have become “evergreen”. By that I mean if it’s re-posted  six months later, it still seems like I wrote it yesterday. Today may be different.  But somehow, I doubt it.


Cognitive dissonance is defined as one mind simultaneously holding two or more conflicting beliefs, ideas or values.

I experienced a variation of that today. Ellin, my daughter Sarah and I went to see the movie “Dunkirk” this afternoon.

It’s a very good movie. It documents the reality of what 400,000 English troops experienced for a week. They were trapped by German forces at the beach of Dunkirk. The Germans, no excuse me, to be more specific, THE NAZIS, chose to send the Luftwaffe to bomb and shoot them like fish in a barrel.

They bombed RED CROSS HOSPITAL SHIPS FILLED WITH WOUNDED SOLDIERS! NAZI U-Boats sank every ship they could find overloaded with troops.  What eventually saved the English troops were hundreds and hundreds of private citizens. These people owned small fishing boats, small pleasure boats, any kind of boat, and sailed them across the English Channel, risking their lives to rescue British troops.

Churchill hoped to save 30,000 troops. Out of 400,000. The boats that went over rescued over 350,000. They had no guns. The troops only had rifles to fight back against U-Boats and dive bombers. Dunkirk was both one of the worst moments for the allies and the best moments for the allies. When the troops reached England, there was a volunteer who was handing out blankets to the soldiers. He told each one “Well done.”

One of the soldiers replied. “All we did was survive.” The man replied “Sometimes, that’s enough.” The NAZIS went on to do more horrific things before the war was over.

My point is. The Nazis were the bad guys. I mean, really REALLY BAD GUYS. It’s rare in human history to have really, really bad guys with no redeeming qualities. The best thing you could say about Hitler was that he was nice to his dog. And we sort of need really good bad guys. After the Nazis died out, we briefly had the Klingons.

They were really bad guys. Until Star Trek Next Generation where they became not so bad guys.

But Nazis? They have ALWAYS BEEN REALLY, REALLY BAD GUYS. Hell, in German schools, from grade school on up, they are upfront with their history. They make sure every German is aware of exactly what happened in WWII to make sure that it never happens again.

At least, in Germany.  I bring all of this up because when I came home from watching Dunkirk, I started watching the news. White nationalists, waving NAZI flags and Confederate flags, were rioting in Charlottesville at what they called a “Unite the Right” rally. A NAZI, drove a car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and wounding 19 others. These were not Germans. White men, born here.

I cannot call them Americans. Their leaders claim that “they are fulfilling the promises of Donald J. Trump. They are taking back America.”

They led a nighttime rally reminiscent of Hitler’s rallies of the 1930’s. But they did it in polo shirts and with  TIKI torches! TIKI torches! Are you kidding me??? I went to a Luau clam bake and a KKK rally broke out!

The Governor of Virginia gave a stirring speech saying that these NAZIS were not welcome in Virginia. They were not welcome in America. He is right.

What did our Asshole-In-Chief say? He said a lot of people are to blame — but never mentioned …. THE FUCKING NAZIS!!!!!

Here’s the dissonance.

We fought a war against these assholes. My dad and his generation served and died fighting against these assholes. For those few who are still alive, what must they think watching the news — today, Saturday, August 12th. 2017?

What has happened to us? NAZIS ARE THE BAD GUYS!

I usually try to be funny with my posts.

I try to find the humor in the insanity that has become our reality. But not today. Maybe tomorrow.