Facing hostile nationalism: Quakers in Nazi Germany and now

Quaker Universalist Fellowship has just published its August 2019 e-newsletter
@ https://tinyurl.com/Mills-GermanQuakers. Here is a brief excerpt.

Hans Albrecht and German Yearly Meeting in the 1930s

America is rounding up and imprisoning people labeled as so-called “illegal aliens,” taking children from families and detaining people in crowded, sometimes abusive conditions. Increasingly, the arrested include American-born citizens who look like aliens. A hostile government is testing what Americans will tolerate—either with approval or in fear of risking the status quo.

The world is in a horrifying reaction against so-called “undesirables” of all sorts. Yet governments—even authoritarian ones—are the reflections of their people, religions, and individuals. Quaker witness must therefore address individuals, calling on them to stand up in response to governments which persecute out of resentment, fear, and hatred.

In 2014, we helped Mary Mills publish her book, A Garden Grows: Quakerism in Nazi Germany, translations of five essays by Hans Albrecht, Clerk of German Yearly Meeting from 1927 to 1947, along with an illustrated album written by children of the Quaker school in Eerde Castle in the Netherlands.

This month we revisit two essays by Mary Mills, “Hans Albrecht and the Quaker Witness in Nazi Germany” and “Recovering History,” together with a review of the book, “A timely recovery of essential Quaker history.”

The book and articles lift up the witness of Albrecht and German Yearly Meeting in the face of Nazi persecution of “misfits” in 1930s. We can learn from the actions of these Friends and from the deep faith which under-girded their witness in the face of such danger.

Image Source Children, many of them German Jewish refugees, relax on the steps of a Quaker boarding school in Eerde. (US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Monica Lake).

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America is rounding up and imprisoning people labeled as so-called “illegal aliens,” taking children from families and detaining people in crowded, sometimes abusive conditions. Increasingly, the arrested include American-born citizens who look like aliens. A hostile government is testing what Americans will tolerate—either with approval or in fear of risking the status quo.

The world is in a horrifying reaction against so-called “undesirables” of all sorts. Yet governments—even authoritarian ones—are the reflections of their people, religions, and individuals. Quaker witness must therefore address individuals, calling on them to stand up in response to governments which persecute out resentment, fear, and hatred.

Hello Mike,

I am curious. Are the words quoted above your words. If so, are these words an accurate reflection of how you relate to the people involved in this circumstance?

Thanks for the question, Keith.

Yes, I wrote these words, though they were approved by the other members of the Quaker Universalist Fellowship's steering committee before we published them.  The others reshaped several passages to make them Friendlier and clearer.

As editor of our blog, I was moved to revisit Mary Mills' book and blog posts by a crisis here in Florida. Since March of 2018, the federal government had been using the private, for-profit Homestead Detention Center near Miami to house so-called "unaccompanied minor" who were refugees from Central America. Miami Friends Meeting, the Miami office of American Friends Service Committee, and a coalition of other local, state, and national group maintained a daily witness outside of the center.

I had made plans to spend a weekend as part of Witness Homestead from August 16th-18th.  Then, begjnning at 1:00 am on August 3rd, the children were all removed to another--still undisclosed--location. That action, that continued lack of transparency on the part of a government which is breaking its own laws regarding asylum seekers, tipped the scale for me  personally.

I do not know what to do in my distress, except to speak publicly about this and the whole range of global abuse of "aliens" and those who "look like aliens." It is the perpetually renewed crime of America, of people around the world, this persecution of those are "not like us."

Blessings, Mike

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