Standing Where Hitler Stood
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Standing Where Hitler Stood

Jews in Germany 70 years later.

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Standing Where Hitler Stood

I stood where Hitler once stood. Not just where he might have stood, or where SS officers and members of the Gestapo were stationed, or in formerly Nazi occupied territory. I stood where Adolf Hitler planted his two feet and spouted Nazi propaganda to hundreds of thousands of loyal followers. Where he lead the Nazi salute. Where he preached that my people, the Jews, were responsible for Germany's problems.

After Hitler's rise to power in 1933, he began the planning of an elaborate, eleven square kilometer, propaganda arena in Nuremburg, Germany. While it was never completed in full, each year between 1933 and 1939, he held a week long military rally there. The SS and the SA rallied in one area, and all other groups in another, on the Zeppelin field. Hitler conducted these rallies from an elevated podium atop many stairs, in front of a large golden swastika. On my trip to Germany, I was able to stand on that podium.

But I wasn't just in Germany to witness the relics of the destruction and mass murder that took place there. Yes, I visited a former concentration camp and learned about the half a million Jews who no longer exist in Germany. Each day I walked past stumbling stones, a German art project to memorialize people killed in the Holocaust in front of the last place they lived before they were deported to a concentration camp or death camp. But I was also there to observe and participate in the growing communities of Orthodox Jews and secular Israelis. To see magnificent synagogues rebuilt at the cites where the Nazis had destroyed them and the people that pray in them. To eat at kosher restaurants and at Shabbat tables. To learn about a Jewish nursery school that is growing so fast some students have to wait until there is an open spot for them before they can start. To remember that no matter what, we as a Jewish people have survived and thrived, throughout the world and in Germany, the former epicenter of the Nazi regime.

When I stood on Hitler's podium, I was overcome with pride. Hitler had wanted to kill my people, to kill my family, and to kill me. But he had not succeeded. The last time Hitler stood on that podium was in 1939. His power was only growing, and he was planning an invasions throughout Europe which would prove to be deadly. In the next six years he would kill six million Jews. Six million people is a lot of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. Most Jewish families are smaller as a result of the Holocaust. But now, 70 years later, the number of Jews worldwide is estimated to be about the same as it was before the Holocaust. Hitler could not destroy us; we are still here.

While we did meet with members of the various Jewish communities in the cities we visited, most of our tour guides and staff members were not Jewish. The stumbling stones, mentioned earlier, are just as often researched and implemented by non-Jews who want to know the history of where they live as they are by Jewish family members of those memorialized. German schoolchildren receive mandatory Holocaust education for years, and most classes visit a concentration camp. Jews are not alone in the struggle to ensure that the Holocaust is not forgotten.

And that field where Hitler conducted rallies? Today it's used for car races and a massive rock music festival. This year the Red Hot Chili Peppers were the headliners. Hitler would turn over in his grave.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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