The term ’Nazi’ is misused and overused
Longtime Houston prosecutor Kaylynn Williford recently resigned after posting a meme on Facebook that appeared to equate Nazis with people who have been participating in protests for racial justice.
Williford, who was head of the trial division at the Harris County, Texas District Attorney’s Office, posted the meme that showed a black-and-white photograph of a wooden box full of weddings bands that were removed from Holocaust victims.
A caption above the photo reads in part, “Each ring represents a destroyed family. Never forget, Nazis tore down statues. Banned free speech. Blamed economic hardships on one group of people. Instituted gun control. Sound familiar?”
The Nazis also started World War II, killed 6 million Jews during the Holocaust and were responsible for widespread looting, plunder and countless atrocities.
From white supremacists who find power in flaunting the swastika to others who want to pin a dreadful label on those whose views they oppose — the term “Nazi” is misused and overused.
In Germany, Nazi was actually a derogatory label for the National Socialist German Workers’ Party which began in 1919 following World War I. The Nazi party grew into a mass movement in the 1920s and early 1930s by promoting fanatical nationalism and anti-Semitism. The Nazis were looking for a scapegoat for the humiliating defeat and the onerous sanctions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles.
Adolf Hitler joined the party the year it was founded and within two years became its leader. By 1933, he became chancellor of Germany and the Nazi party soon began to undermine rights of citizens and electoral politics. Soon Hitler evolved from chancellor to dictator.
With the start of World War II, the Nazis’ ramped up the anti-Jewish rhetoric and increased the systematic slaughter of Jews. After invading and occupying Poland, the Nazis murdered thousands of Polish Jews. They confined many to ghettos where they starved to death and began sending others to death camps, where they were either murdered or forced into slave labor.
When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941the killing continued. Nazi death squads murdered thousands of Jews in western Russia.
The indiscriminate murder of Jews became a burden for soldiers and Nazi sycophants. In an effort to streamline the killings the Nazis convened a conference in the spring of 1942. The Wannsee Conference outside of Berlin came up with the “Final Solution,” the systematic murder of all European Jews.
The Nazis created a series of concentration camps where Jews and other “undesirables” would be delivered by cattle cars to face extermination. Men, women and children would be ushered into death houses after they were stripped of their belongings, i.e., the jewelry in the Williford’s meme, stripped naked and gassed. Their bodies incinerated in large ovens.
Throughout the remainder of the war, Jews in the countries occupied by Germany were deported by the thousands to the death camps. Places like Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Auschwitz began to operate with ruthless Nazi efficiency.
The killing continued until the last months of war. The liberation of the camps, as the Nazis retreated, revealed the horrors that are still etched in the collective memory of the human race.
As the Nazis made their way back to Berlin their feeble and delusional leader Hitler, hiding in a Berlin bunker, committed suicide.
For those who feel like attaching the label Nazi to some group they oppose or a person, or figure, they disagree with — think twice. Nazi is an abhorrent term reserved for the vilest organization in the history of the world.
Your political opponent is not a Nazi; the protesters down the street are not Nazis; the police are not Nazis. With few exceptions none of us have ever had to face a Nazi in the 75 years since the end of World War II, and for this we should be grateful.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010” was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at www.mattmangino.com and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.