The German language has two different designations for the territory in which military action takes place. One is: “the field of battle”; the other, “the field of honor.” Strict logic deduces from this terminology that in war “battle” and “honor” are synonymousâ€”a verbal singularity which illuminates the staggering senselessness of war.
After the lapse of a few years, the horror of war is forgotten, Commemorations begin; the better features are remembered. The brain of man has a remarkable capacity which, considering its vital importance, is insufficiently noted: the capacity of memory to cast a romantic and amiable light on all the horrors and bitterness of the past.
Such has been the case with the war. Twenty years after the beginning of the World War, the cripples, the shrieking hand grenades, the bestial existence in the trenches, have been forgotten. Only the pallid memories of heroism, comradeliness, manliness, etch themselves in the consciousness. That is why war memorials are built.
Since 1918, war memorials have been built in every country and city of the world. In many countries eternal lights flame over the symbolic tombs of unknown soldiers. All mankind weeps before the nameless sorrow of these gravestones.
In Germany there are also many war memorials. A few weeks ago, a new memorial was unveiled in Dinslaken.
MEMORIAL WITHOUT JEWS
Dinslaken is on the lower Rhine, in Germany. As soon as the memorial was proposed, it was decided to chisel the names of all Dinslaken inhabitants killed in the world war, on this monument. All the citizens of the town were urged to send the names and dates of death of their relatives to the administration.
I have already mentioned that Dinslaken is in Germany. Germany is National-Socialist. Many old women, mothers who had forgotten nothing, came to the town hall in the days following the announcement. Among these old women were two Jewesses.
The Jew, Richard Strauss of Dinslaken, died December 15, 1916, on the battle-field of honor. Two Jewish brothers Rudolph and Philip Fuldauer died on March 20 and March 22, 1917, for their Fatherland.
I don’t know whether these dead have sisters or brothers. I only know the names of these three Jews and the dates of their deaths; I know the name of the German city; I know that the names of a hundred dead comrades of the three Jews were chiselled on the war memorial of the town of Dinslaken. The three Jews were not among them.
A SHIRKER ACTS
The families of the three dead Jews made all the necessary appeals. They wrote finally to the German Secretary of the Interior, Dr. Frick. And Dr. Frick, National Socialist Cabinet Minister of the German State, a man who shirked active service during the war, decided that he neither could nor would do anything contrary to the decision of the town of Dinslaken.
Three dead were missing from the list on the monument.
Many will say that whether the names of the fallen were cut in stone or not, is a matter of indifference; that it is only important for the relatives and friends of the perished to cherish their memories and the teaching of their deaths. These objections have some validity. It is a matter of indifference to the dead, but what of the living?
I grant that many comments may be made on this occurrence, particularly sociological comments. I am deliberately avoiding such. I speak here only of the contribution, the sacrifice, and the appreciation which the sacrifice received. The German Reichspresident often used the following expression: “Faithfulness is the mark of honor.” No man can be truer than unto death. These three Jews were true to their country.
THE DEAD ARE SILENT
There are a number of Jews whose eyes were shot out during the war. They were members of a large organization of those blinded in the war. They tapped their way through the streets, winding their way among men. Now the Jewish blind have been expelled from the association of the War Blind. The blind Jews still tap their way through the streets. No one touches them in Germany, unless their Jewish appearance is too striking.
An eternal light burns on the tomb of the unknown soldier. The unknown German Jewish soldiers have no tomb. Even the dead are homeless.
The blind do not speak. The three dead of Dinslaken do not speak and all others are silent.