From reading “I must Bear Witness” (should be required reading in High Schools), I seem to remember Germany also had mandatory church taxes.
This shows the paucity of the Scalia-Thomas-Rehnquist view of Endorsement. According to them, endorsement only occurs when a single church is made into the state religion. Such a thing could not happen in Germany, with such a significant Catholic population. The absence of a single state church, however, does not mean there is not unacceptable invovlement of religion in the affairs of the state, and vice versa.
And what was the name of that ship, filled with Jews that sailed from nation to nation, trying to gain entry, only to be refused each time? Eventually the passengers all wound up back in Germany and, IIRC, the majority died in the camps. So much for finding sanctuary in Christian nations, eh?
This has basically been answered, but I’d like to add here that the truly relevant measure is the extent to which the state is entangled with religion. This consists both of religion having improper influence over the state and the state having improper influence over religion. In most modern cases, the former sort of influence is relatively rare. To the extent that churches have power over the state, they have it due to the democratic process, which is relatively unobjectionable. The days of archbishops and such wielding substantial political power in their own right are mostly gone. States interfering in the religious practices of citizenry, however, is still a going concern, and this would be the relevant consideration in judging Europe in the 30’s.
So, pop quiz: in 1937, which of the mentioned governments interfered most with the religious practices of its citizens? I should think it utterly uncontroversial to answer that the USSR interferes most, with Germany a close second, and places like the UK, Sweden, or the Netherlands far, far behind. During the war I think we should have to say that the Nazis surpassed the Soviets, as wholesale slaughter of a religious group comprises greater interference than merely outlawing most religious practice, but in 37 the Soviets were still in the lead.
(psst…both Tsarist Russia and the Soviets through Stalin (and likely afterwards) turned a blind eye or actively encouraged or even participated in the slaughter of Jews. Granted, they didn’t manage to implement the Ford like assembly line mass murder that the SS pulled off…I don’t know if this has as much to do with state religion as that Russia used the Jews as a scapegoat race for centuries. I suspect even without a state religion, you’d have scapegoat races when much of your peasantry exists at a subsistance level).
Or Mexico, the United States, Canada, which had no state church?
IOW, the existence or lack thereof of a state church was not determinative (or, indeed, even all that relevant) to whether Jews would be safe in 1937.
That may be the one, I honestly don’t remember the name of it. It does, however, serve as a reminder that we shouldn’t be too smug about WW II, since even though we did eventually beat the bad guys, we were pretty damn apathetic towards their victims until we got a bloody nose.
A lot of people died in WWII. A hell of a lot of troops on both sides of the conflict died. A lot of civilians died in bombings and whatnot. And a lot of people were killed in Hitler’s camps.
Not all these people were Jewish. I was ‘taught’ about what Hitler did and how Hitler killed millions of Jews every year of my life. Yet I was 15 and researching things on my own by the time I found out that there were millions of other people put to systematic death, both in camps and through other ways. This included staggering numbers of Poles, other people of Slavic heritage, homosexuals, Gypsies, and physically/mentally disabled people.
This seems to be a gigantic gap in the general public’s knowledge, and that belittles the loss of so many millions of lives.
Which is one of the reasons why I bring up the St. Louis. We like to think that we were so much better than the Nazi’s that we’d never allow something like that to happen, but we did. Oh sure, we might not have known the full horror of what was going on in the camps when the St. Louis set sail, but we knew that groups of “undesirables” were being rounded up, abused and sent to camps. Hell, a good number of our top scientists had all fled from Germany because they were “undesirables” and yet we did nothing for those folks on the St. Louis (and the people currently being massacred in places like Africa, Iran, North Korea, etc., etc.), so Scalia’s assertion that the Jews would have been safe if they’d shown up in America was flat out wrong. We were only slightly better than the Nazi’s because we didn’t actively slaughter the Jews (or the Japanese we put in interment camps along with the odd German or Italian) so our “moral superiority” is not as great as Scalia would like to pretend. (Also, considering the fact that we tend to ignore the other people who died as a result of Nazi “racial purity” programs, some of our behavior has been downright shameful [and we won’t even get into what we did to the Native Americans during our period of westward expansion].)
The St. Louis incident, was, I believe, in 1938. It was utterly disgraceful, and is a shameful blot on the history of any country that refused to accept the refugees. However, no one at that time possibly suspected the Holocaust. The persecution of Jews (and other groups, including of course the Labor Union members, Socialists and Communists who get left off even the extended lists such as that of NinjaChick) was horrific in the 1930s, and would, I believe, in itself have justified war with Nazi Germany, but you cannot expect other nations to have extrapolated from German Acts in that timeframe to the Holocaust, especially given the lull in anti-Semitic actions around the 1936 Olympics. But that isn’t my main argument with you…
This I find to be utterly specious. ‘[O]nly slightly better’ than a regime that exterminated nigh on 6 million Jews, millions more Slavs, as well as countless other victims because the United States failed to accept a boatload of refugees (totally wrongly I might add) at a time when expecting a policy of genocide was
not reasonable? I think here you are either massively over-inflating the guilt of the US, or massively deflating that of the Nazis. The internement camp policy was a total disgrace, but again, I would argue it doesn’t even appear in the same book as the Nazi camps, let alone come close to being ‘only sightly better.’
I’d agree hat it’s not accurate to say that our turning away refugees was a far cry from running death camps. Immorral and a general ass thing to do? Yes, but there are different levels of that.
That said: We, too (speaking as the US) have genocide in our past. As Tuckerfan said - look at westward expansion. Up until the nineteen-freaking-seventies, we forcible removed children from their families and essentially institutionalized them, told them everything about their culture was wrong, abused them, and pretended it never happened. 1970. We threw people in prison camps on the basis of their nationality. We allowed - we still do allow bigotry. The thing that I’d say puts us on the same level as the Nazis is the way we refuse to acknowledge it. Yeah, we just took some Japanese into internment camps, but conditions were fine. We just ‘relocated’ some native peoples.* We, as a society, are effectually still accepting those actions as morally acceptable by not talking about them.
*This is, of course, ignoring one of the current problems: the vast majority of indigenous peoples in the US live on reservations, and living conditions there are often not that dissimilar to living conditions in 3rd world countries. Alcoholism is a huge problem, poverty and violence moreso.
And don’t forget the numerous pre-9/11 discussions about the Taliban and their attrocities, where many people felt that we had no justification in wiping them out.
Let’s take a more modern example: The treatment of POWs in Iraq and Gitmo by US soldiers. Are we any better than Saddam? Oh sure, we haven’t killed or tortured as many folks as Saddam did, and we are punishing many of the people involved in the torture and murder of the POWs, which is more than Saddam did, but can we say that we still hold the moral high ground (if we ever did)? Especially since it’s quite possible that many of the higher ups responsible for handing out the orders to torture will never be prosecuted for it?
No, let’s not. Let’s stay with the ludicrous assertion that the US was ‘only slightly better’ than the Nazis. That’s just indefensible, whatever the rights and wrongs of US actions in Iraq 60 years later.
“Taking him out” != “Invading and occupying another country contrary to the popular will of the large majority of that country’s citizens and in opposition to our nation’s short-, medium-, and long-term interests.”