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

Americans are rounding up and imprisoning other Americans.  That's the geographical truth.  The "undocumented" part is added by a base "civilization" that has thrived on slavery for generations, not to be confused with Americans as I mean them.

Thanks, Kirby. You speak my mind on this. Blessings, Mike

Kirby Urner said:

Americans are rounding up and imprisoning other Americans.  That's the geographical truth.  The "undocumented" part is added by a base "civilization" that has thrived on slavery for generations, not to be confused with Americans as I mean them.

Hello Kirby,

Would you be more specific on who the "Americans" that are "rounding up" and "imprisoning."  And who are those "Americans" that are being "rounded up" and "imprisoned." Would you give specific examples that guide and inform your reflections or narrative? Also would you expound further on your outward reflection "base civilization." And finally, who are "Americans as [you] mean them?

Hello Mike,

Thank you for your response. I have been considering it and will continue considering it. You reflect upon people as persecuting other people who are "not like us." Will you give specific examples of the people in this circumstance of immigration who have set about persecuting other people because they are not like them? I mean specific examples of people who have "persecuted" other human beings, in this current immigration circumstance, because they are guided and informed by the notion persecuting people because they are "not like us?"

Hey Keith.  The Americans being rounded up are mostly those not considered citizens of a nation declared to exist circa 1776 and believed in ever since by most landlubbers. 

Those doing the rounding up and imprisoning (the prisons are called "detention centers" and no, you're not "free to leave") consider themselves citizens of this Doctrine of Discovery institution, established mostly on religious grounds, with help from some (not all) Friends. Certainly the Masons helped a lot too. 

This experiment in democracy lasted for quite some time.

"Americans" as I mean them are people born and raised in the Americas and identifying as "American" on these grounds.  These Americans may or may not buy in to the nation-state mythology of the last few hundred years (even if they give lip service to same).  For sure many of them do (and with gusto, lots of flag flying -- a modified East India Company logo). 

But it's not really about beliefs so much as practice. 

The fertile farms of the northern territories require vast numbers of agricultural workers on a seasonal basis, to harvest the crops.  But when these workers are not citizens, in an age of hyper-nationalism (a sign of its twilight?), that ends up sparking a lot of uncivilized responses on the part of those feeling threatened by this status quo. 

Per Alfred North Whitehead, the level of a civilization is inversely proportional to the degree of slavery it harbors.  The experiments in the Americas have largely been about designing new civilizations that offer more freedoms. The fifty states of the Federation are not alone in using such rhetoric. 

Given the historical importance of slavery (coerced labor), as an institution, to many state economies, this rhetoric has led to a lot of cognitive dissonance on the part of some of those engaging in the practice, to this day.  The economic factors that led to civil war in the first place have not all evaporated.

In addition to slaves, women and corporations have struggled to gain more freedoms and civil rights. The corporations have proved the most successful of all, and have been enjoying their newly codified personhood.

Does that help?  I'm not telling the whole story, but in the interests of keeping it brief, I'm hitting some of the high points (or low points, as the case may be).

Keith Saylor said:

Hello Kirby,

Would you be more specific on who the "Americans" that are "rounding up" and "imprisoning."  And who are those "Americans" that are being "rounded up" and "imprisoned." Would you give specific examples that guide and inform your reflections or narrative? Also would you expound further on your outward reflection "base civilization." And finally, who are "Americans as [you] mean them?

Kirby, thank you for this response. The partial narrative (composite of reflections) you have outlined here is revealing. I appreciate your effort. 

Would I misrepresent you if I were to write, According to the geographic and historical narrative you have reflected over against the canvas of human relationships and their geographic location:

1. You believe "Americans" are those people who make up North and South America and surrounding archipelagos? Does that include the people of Canada even though they do not identify as Americans?

2. You believe the citizens and government of the nation of the United States of American, by the act of detaining and imprisoning those people who are not citizens of the nation of the United States of American because they enter the nation of the United States of America against established immigration laws, the nation of the United States of America part of a "base civilization."

3. Would I be correct in stating you do not value the nation-state?

4. Do you agree there are legal ways for people who are not citizens of the United States of American to work in the nation?

5. Is slavery or coerced labor currently an institution and an important part of the economy in the United States of America according to your reflected overlay?

6. Do you value current immigration laws of the nation of the United States of American?

It is revealing that you use the word "base" to reflect upon or label a nation or civilization that distiinguishes between people who are documented and people who are undocumented. For it is true that the establishment of this distinction is part of what establishes (or is, in part, the "basis" of) it as a nation. I sense however that you are using the word "base" as a pejorative to reflect upon the act of establishing such distinctions as de-based, immoral, selfish, counterfeit, inferior, or illegitimate. 

I am very curious as to your alternative or remedy?

G'morning on this First Day Keith.

I won't get to all these questions in order and refer readers to my voluminous world-readable corpus for more of my thinking, if curious. 

Yes, I refer to Canadians as Americans as I'm simply talking about Western Hemispheric peoples, of greatly mixed heritage and ethnicity we all know. 

When I say "Americans are imprisoning Americans" I'm not saying this is anything all that new.  Not including outright prisons, we've seen "detention centers" in earlier states of citizen panic and sense of besiegement, and even possible invasion (Pearl Harbor episode).

I just did a Youtube mentioning the new graphic novel (manga) by George Takei [1] and friends, about his sojourn in such a camp, age four.  My friend and Bucky Fuller adjuvant, Kiyoshi Kuromiya, was born in Heart Mountain (Wyoming based camp).[2]

Follow-up syllabus reading (gets into the nation-state business etc.):
https://archive.org/stream/GrunchOfGiants/R.BuckminsterFullerGrunch...
(links to Twilight of the Idols by Nietzsche? Another Youtube maybe...)

... or visit my blogs (Quaker journals):
https://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2019/09/sunday-morning.html

[1] Lt. Sulu, Starship Enterprise

[2] https://youtu.be/J2LQPvCtDjc (a "spooky ball" episode)

Kirby, Thank you for the links. Thank you for considering some of my questions. The experience of inshining of immanent being upon my conscience and consciousness has discovered to me a different way of relating to people which is not of the nature of reflective thought. I do not relate to people through current outward political, religious, and social, intellectual and institutional constructs, formalities or narratives. Neither do I relate to people through alternative outward political, religious, and social, intellectual constructs and alternatively desired institutional forms or narratives to guide and inform my relationships and interactions. Outwardly mirrored or reflected constructs like globalism or nationalism and exclusion or inclusion (and the narratives built around such constructs) do not inform how I relate to people. I am come into a different way wherein habitation in the immanent being itself in itself and the relative increase or decrease of that experience guides my relationships and interactions. That is to say, it is the relative motion or impulse of the experience itself in itself that is the matter. Should the impulse of immanent being decrease relative to a particular interaction with another person, that particular behavior is modified consistent with the increase or stasis of the motion of immanent being.  



Kirby Urner said:

G'morning on this First Day Keith.

I won't get to all these questions in order and refer readers to my voluminous world-readable corpus for more of my thinking, if curious. 

Yes, I refer to Canadians as Americans as I'm simply talking about Western Hemispheric peoples, of greatly mixed heritage and ethnicity we all know. 

When I say "Americans are imprisoning Americans" I'm not saying this is anything all that new.  Not including outright prisons, we've seen "detention centers" in earlier states of citizen panic and sense of besiegement, and even possible invasion (Pearl Harbor episode).

I just did a Youtube mentioning the new graphic novel (manga) by George Takei [1] and friends, about his sojourn in such a camp, age four.  My friend and Bucky Fuller adjuvant, Kiyoshi Kuromiya, was born in Heart Mountain (Wyoming based camp).[2]

Follow-up syllabus reading (gets into the nation-state business etc.):
https://archive.org/stream/GrunchOfGiants/R.BuckminsterFullerGrunch...
(links to Twilight of the Idols by Nietzsche? Another Youtube maybe...)

... or visit my blogs (Quaker journals):
https://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2019/09/sunday-morning.html

[1] Lt. Sulu, Starship Enterprise

[2] https://youtu.be/J2LQPvCtDjc (a "spooky ball" episode)

Yes Keith, that's what we love about you.  Keep up the good work.

Keith Saylor said:

I am come into a different way wherein habitation in the immanent being itself in itself and the relative increase or decrease of that experience guides my relationships and interactions.

perhaps i can help or at least apply this to my community in houston, where a significant portion of our neighborhood lives in reliable and credible fear of being profiled, detained, searched and in some cases arrested, incarcerated and deported- often to a country they've a stranger to and have no language of. of our 592 students last year over 400 students lived in this state of constant fight or flight. whether undocumented parents brought them here as babies or came here and had them as american citizens- or they live in a home with a parent, grandparent, sibling or immediate family member in varying degrees of documentation and subject to disappear at any moment. we fundraised 1k for daca application and processing for a congregant in 2009 and his status remained in limbo until the current administration made an abrupt turnaround decision to reclassify any dreamer with ANY criminal act on their record from BEFORE the application process ineligible. this included the very act of BEING HERE illegally so basically to instantly turn anyone without sparkling documentation in an INSTANT FELON. imagine the pressure of having to go and work each day waiting to have your life destroyed? hope this helps and i'm after all always here to help. deb

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