Good Germans

Emma Rosenthal

As published in Shifting Sands: Jewish Women Confront the Israeli Occupation

By Emma Rosenthal

I:  Year: 1969

Good Germans,” my father muttered as we walked from door to door petition in hand, collecting signatures, working for an end to the war in Vietnam.  Some yelled at us to “go back to Russia!” Others politely said they didn’t want to make waves, cause a problem.

“What do you mean Daddy, how do you know they are German?” I asked, only ten years old, not yet having learned the nuance of ethnicity (these matters must be taught.)

“They aren’t German, Em.”

“Why did you say they were Good Germans?”

“They,” my father explained, “are like the Germans who weren’t Nazis. They did not profit from slave labor, did not serve in the army, were just silent.  Good Germans did not attract the attention of the authorities, pretended not to know…

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