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Echoes of the Past
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Historical Amnesia? by Aron Mason
Beaten by extremists German Intolerance and the Trap of Ignorance by Aron Mason

nderstandably, it is a very serious charge in Germany to imply that someone’s actions are “Nazi-like.”

     But if behavior is Nazi-like, why call it anything else?

     After more than a decade of intolerable harassment from German officials, the Church of Scientology responded in a series of full page, paid newspaper messages under the banner “then and now.” The series cited precise and specific examples to draw comparisons between the intolerant actions and words of certain German politicians of today and their predecessors from the 1930s—the early days of the Hitler regime.

     German officials went utterly ballistic.

     In their desperation to distract attention from the straightforward facts, they dismissed the comparisons as “false”—because, they said, nobody is dying and no one is being locked in concentration camps in modern Germany.

     It was a red herring. Nobody had mentioned the Holocaust, death camps, or even a single murder. The Church’s messages pointed to the social ostracism and propaganda which came before the “final solution.”

     The unfortunate fact is that events in 1990s Germany bear unnerving similarities to events of six decades ago; a time which still eludes full understanding and remains a sensitive subject. And, just as unfortunately, some find it easier to take the path of dismissal and avoid the grim realities of what is truly happening.

     This has even been true of some who know the facts—such as the editors of the Washington Post ( “Siding with Fascism,”) and, occasionally, a few in the U.S. government.

     It is just such a treatment of this situation which serves only to protract the real problem—the destruction of real lives in Germany. As the State Department noted, there is no doubt that discrimination exists. Indeed, the State Department’s annual reports have listed clear evidence of violence and abuse against “minorities and foreigners”—including members of the Church of Scientology—for at least four years. Yet some second the German response that the comparisons with Germany in the 1930s were incorrect.

     Such sentiment smacks of historical amnesia. To anyone who examines the evidence the parallels are so close as to be virtually one line.

     In defense of Germany and its policies, one said that it is “a democratic government, an ally of the United States. ...” It certainly isn’t “democratic” for tens of thousands of German citizens who are Scientologists—and are thus denied employment in government and the public sector and who are dismissed summarily from all political parties.

     In fact, efforts to play down the seriousness of the abuses and pretend things are “not that bad” fit into the historical model. Most of Europe was underestimating the Nazis even after the waves of murders began. When the campaign to marginalize Jews was in full force up through the end of the 1930s, some government officials continued to extol the virtues of the German government, effectively encouraging their inhuman campaign.

     The overarching point is this: Scientologists are not saying—and never have—that they are going to the ovens. But given Germany’s history of human rights abuses, the comparison between the abuses of Germany then and those of Germany now must be made before they are allowed to escalate—and it is then too late. It would be repulsive to imagine a more extreme set of facts to render meaningless the words “never again.”

     But assuming that the problem may only be one of woeful ignorance for those who toe the German party line, there is an easy way for anyone in doubt to measure the extent of discrimination in Germany and how closely it mirrors the 1930s:

     Travel to Bonn. Tell everyone that you are a Scientologist and apply for a job with the government. Or as a teacher. While waiting, seek to enroll your children in school or kindergarten. Try to join a political party. Visit any old school friends—briefly, at their doorstep.

     Then return to Washington and see if you can find any words to describe this experience without comparisons to the pre-Holocaust propaganda and discrimination campaigns.

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