Tag Archives: Third Reich

D-Day veterans earned the world’s eternal gratitude

They’re old men who once — in the prime of their youth — stormed out of boats into too-deep water and onto a beach. They were greeted with merciless fire from an enemy force determined to keep what it had captured.

The young men fought their way across the beach. Their triumph was far from secured when they were able to maintain their hold on the small strip of land they had just touched.

They kept fighting. And fighting some more. They hailed from nations around the world. They were Americans, Brits, Canadians, French, Poles, Dutch, Danes, Greeks, Australians and New Zealanders.

Seventy-five years ago they sought to open a new front in the war in Europe. They landed in Normandy, France on a mission labeled Operation Overlord, aka D-Day.

These old men now are among a diminishing group of heroes who fought to save the world from Nazi tyranny. They would succeed eventually. The Third Reich that was supposed to last a thousand years crumbled under the might of the forces that fought their way into Germany from that beach in Normandy and from the east, where the Soviet Red Army was exacting its own brutal vengeance against the Nazis.

Today we honor the young men who answered their nations’ call. Dignitaries will offer high-minded salutes to those young men. A few of those young men will be there among the dignitaries. They have aged. They’re now well into their 90s, meaning that most of those who are still with us today likely won’t be around for the next landmark commemoration of the D-Day landing.

One day all those young men will no longer be among us. I have sought in recent years to shake the hand of World War II veterans when I see them wearing those ballcaps identifying them as members of the Greatest Generation. I want to thank them for saving the world from the monsters who sought to subject us all to their oppression.

But here’s the deal: Those veterans who saved the world from the tyrants quite often don’t advertise their heroism. They fought hard, earned the victory and then returned home to resume their lives. Their heroics? “We just did our duty,” they might say.

D-Day was a seminal event in world history. Those who are the products of those men need to understand fully what they did when they stormed ashore in the beach in France. Indeed, all of us who came into this world after that worldwide war should honor their forebears’ effort to save the world.

That’s what I want to do at this moment . . . and always.

‘Master race’ crack catches up with county commissioner

Louis Klemp went out in a blaze of ignominy.

This clown is the now former Leavenworth (Kan.) County commissioner who told an African-American city planner from Kansas City that he — Klemp — is a member of the “master race.”

At first Klemp dug in, saying he didn’t mean any harm by it. He said his comment was “well-intentioned.”

Well, then he quit. He’s gone. Out of office and one can hope he’ll never be seen or heard from again.

But this brief episode brings to mind so many instances I have witnessed over many years of so-called members of the “master race” making utter asses of themselves in public, with no sense of shame, self-awareness or understanding of their public idiocy.

We often see such demonstrations of sheer stupidity when it involves those who belong to various white-supremacist groups. You know, outfits like the Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazis, Aryan Brotherhood . . . those kinds of yahoo groups.

My all-time favorite example of such stupidity being played out in public in front of the whole wide world occurred about 30 years ago in Orange, Texas.

I’ll set the stage briefly.

The Ku Klux Klan wanted to stage a rally to protest federal housing policy that allowed an African-American man to move into an all-white public housing complex in Vidor, an Orange County community with a seedy reputation as being “tolerant” of Klan activity. I attended the Klan rally to observe it, given that I was editorial page editor of the Beaumont Enterprise in nearby Jefferson County. I wanted to comment on what I saw happening.

I was standing near a TV reporter, who extended a microphone toward a KKK sympathizer’s face and asked her why she supported the Klan. The individual — a proud and devoted member of the “master race” — told the TV guy, in the presence of two small children standing next to her, that she didn’t “want my fuc**** kids associating with them people.”

Yes. It happened. So help me. As God is my witness.

Louis Klemp has told others that he was trying to make some comparison — goofy and utterly brainless as it sounds — between his teeth and the city planner’s teeth. He made some idiotic explanation that the two of them have “gaps” in their front teeth, which makes them both members of the “master race.”

Louis Klemp, with that “master race” comment, managed to channel one Adolf Hitler, who sought to create such a thing with his Third Reich. We all know how that turned out.

Good bye, Louis Klemp . . . and good riddance!

Now … for a moment of ethnic pride

I make no apologies for the hyphenated nature of my U.S. citizenship.

I am a Greek-American, which was bred in me by my grandparents, all four of whom were proud old country Greeks. One of them, my paternal grandmother — Katina Kanelis — once informed me of a historical military action about which I knew nothing at the time. I must have been around 9 or 10 years of age.

It produced something of a national holiday in her native Greece. It’s called “Ohi Day.” What is that? I’m about to tell you.

My grandmother and I were sitting in her kitchen one day when she told me of when, on Oct. 28, 1940, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini issued an ultimatum to the Greek prime minister, Ioannis Metaxas: Let the Italian military use Greek bases from which to conduct operations in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations or else face the prospect of war.

Legend has it that Metaxas replied with a simple “ohi!” which is Greek for “no!” Grandma told me he said it with emphasis, meaning I suppose it was taken as “hell no!”

The Italians invaded Greece from Albania. Grandma said with great pride that the Greek army responded with such ferocity that they drove the Italians out of Greece. Mussolini’s forces supposedly were better equipped, better trained, more seasoned. They ran into a ruthless enemy in the Greeks.

I’ve done some research in the decades since I heard that anecdote from my dear, beloved grandmother. I learned that the Greeks essentially let the Italians storm into their country, then cut them off in the Pindus Mountains in northwest Greece — and then slaughtered them.

It was warfare at its ugliest. The Greeks then drove the Italians out of Greece, just as Grandma told me. The opposing forces fought to a stalemate in Albania, prompting the Nazi Germans to invade Greece in April 1941. The Axis forces eventually conquered Greece — but they would pay dearly for their occupation until they were driven out in 1944. The Greek resistance was among the fiercest of any in Europe during World War II.

I bring this to you courtesy of my late grandmother, who became a proud American, too, by choice.

Happy Ohi Day, everyone!Ā Have a glass of ouzo to commemorate it.

Who should go? DACA residents or neo-Nazis?

Here it comes. I feel a raging rant boiling up. I know it won’t fly, but I mustĀ  get something off my chest.

Some of the very Americans who are angry at those who came here illegally as children, those who qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals law, also represent an ideology against which this country went to war.

I refer to the neo-Nazis, the morons who hate all immigrants, particularly those who aren’t of European descent.

On one hand we have DACA residents, many of whom came here as toddlers or younger. They have forged good and productive lives as Americans. The U.S. of A. is the only country they know. Donald J. Trump has decided to rescind the executive order that granted them temporary protection against deportation. They might be rounded up in six months and sent packing if Congress doesn’t come up with a legislative answer.

Those despicable neo-Nazis want them out immediately if not sooner.

If I were King of the World, my preference would be to deport the neo-Nazis over the DACA residents. Yes, yes. I know. They have the constitutional right to express their political views, no matter how vile and disgraceful they might be. The neo-Nazis take the despicability cake by a mile!

While I’m at it, I’ll throw the Ku Klux Klan onto that dung heap, too.

My father went to war against the Nazis in 1942. He was among the Greatest Generation that saved the world from the tyranny espoused by the Third Reich and the Nazis that murdered roughly 6 million Jews in Europe. Nazi soldiers, sailors and aviators tried to kill DadĀ  on multiple occasions.

This is the ideology that some so-called Americans choose to honor with that hideous stiff-armed salute?

Who is more preferable to have walking among us, I ask? Those who have lived in fear because of something their parents did or those who speak as champions of an evil, tyrannical ideology?

There. Rant over. I feel better.

Swastikas are back in the news … for the wrong reasons

The “Greatest Generation” of Americans marched off to war in 1941.

Millions of them went off to fight the Empire of Japan in the Pacific; millions of others went in the other direction, to take up arms against the Third Reich and its fascist allies in Italy.

The Nazis who governed Germany did so under the banner featuring the swastika, which has remained the symbol of unequivocal evil over the decades since the end of World War II.

Events of the past few days have brought that symbol back to the fore in the United States. It’s good to ponder for just a moment the very notion that Americans would associate themselves with that symbol in any fashion.

The Charlottesville riot over the weekend involved Nazis who marched under that very banner yet again. They wore the swastika on their t-shirts, on arm bands. They adhere to the very philosophy that perhaps their grandparents or great-grandparents fought. Perhaps they lost ancestors in that conflict.

How in the name of all that is holy can anyone associate themselves with that philosophy? How can they in good conscience stand with that symbol of evil? Oh, wait! I guess I assumed that such sociopaths even have a conscience. Silly me.

I have my own deep-seated bias against that symbol. My late father enlisted in the Navy in early 1942, not long after our country entered World War II. He wanted to get into the fight right away and Uncle Sam obliged, sending him to Europe to wage war against that swastika.

And he did. His involvement in the Mediterranean theater of operations was intense. It was brutal. Men who fought under that swastika tried to kill my father — repeatedly and I am quite certain with maximum malice. Dad responded with equal intensity.

Quite obviously, he was able to come home at the end of the war. He got on with the rest of his life.

Over time, he talked occasionally about his war experience. He didn’t hate Germans. He did hate the symbol under which those young men fought against him. As I grew up, I was imbued with the feeling of hate as well for that swastika.

As we’ve seen over many years, though, not all Americans share that hatred. Some of us embrace that symbol. For the life of me I cannot fathom it.

But here we are, talking to each other once again about an emblem that symbolizes the very worst in our human existence.

And to think that the president of the United States has just elevated those who today are marching yet again under that evil symbol effectively to the same level of those who oppose them.

Hitler is dead already! Let’s keep him that way!

1933:  Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945), chancellor of Germany, is welcomed by supporters at Nuremberg.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Adolf Hitler is dead.

What passes for his spirit remains very much alive in the guise of contemporary political debate … although I hesitate to use such soaring terminology to identify much of the back-and-forth that’s been occurring these days.

The latest object of the Hitler comparison is Donald J. Trump, the leading Republican Party candidate for president of the United States.

Do not misunderstand me on this point: I find Trump to be among the most repulsive major U.S. political figures of my lifetime. With every idiotic utterance that flies out of his pie hole, he moves closer to the very top (or bottom) of my unofficial list of despicable American political leaders.

I am weary to the max, however, of the Hitler references.

Of all the beasts who have passed themselves off as human beings, Hitler stands alone. The Holocaust defies any human being’s ability to comprehend such a dastardly act. The murderous regime he led for a dozen years and the war he started in Europe produced a bloodbath beyond all reckoning.

Hitler is without question the 20th century’s most hideous tyrant.

Trump’s world view — such as it is — deserves to be critiqued on its own. That said, I do not care to see these Hitler references attached to anything Trump has to say.

To be sure, the current president of the United States has been demonized in this manner as well, as haveĀ have previous presidents of both major political parties.

Many politicians provide ample grist for criticism. Is it really necessary to invoke Hitler’s name whenever we disagree with what a contemporary U.S. politician has to say?

To my ears, doing so seems to fall into the category of foul-mouth comedians. Someone once said that comics who depend onĀ verbal filthĀ usually have run out of clever things to say.

Politicians and pundits who invoke Hitler’s nameĀ to offer criticism, then, might be falling into the same category.

Welcome to politics, Dr. Carson

Ben Carson is a famed neurosurgeon.

He gave up that profession and now he’s taking on another one: politician.

He’s going to learn that politicians have to be as careful with their words as surgeons have to be with their scalpels. You say the wrong thing, you’re potentially finished as a candidate.

Carson is running for the Republican presidential nomination. This morning he showed up on “Fox News Sunday” and got grilled by host Chris Wallace for some things he said about the Obama administration.


When a GOP candidate gets hammered by a Fox News host, well, the planet might be on the verge of spinning off its axis.

Wallace challenged Dr. Carson’s comparison of the Obama administration with the Nazi Third Reich.

Does he really mean that? Wallace asked.

Carson said during Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror, people didn’t challenge him. Wallace asserted immediately that people are challenging President Obama all the time.

How about ending any Hitler references? It is ridiculous and insulting in the extreme to equate modern political activity with anything that was done during the Third Reich’s dozen years of existence.

I happen to admire Dr. Carson’s work and the brilliance he exudes when talking about medical procedures and his hopes for cures to deadly brain diseases and disorders. That work is a long, long way from the political rough-and-tumble he’s entering.

Careless and overblown statements do have a way of lingering and biting the speaker of those words where he doesn’t want to be bitten.