Monday 10 June 2024

Paying lip service

Giving lip-service to Nazi engagement.   

Hans Edler had this down to a fine art. He would always say “Heil Edler” rather than Heil Hitler.” He probably mumbled in order to get away with it.

Many of the examples of this in the Schellberg books come from anecdotes that Renate James, née Edler recited to us.

It spooked his wife; she thought someone would hear and they would get into a lot of trouble about it. He didn’t worry though. His salute remained firm and “Edler” probably sounded enough like “Hitler” for it to be convincing.

And then there is some story-telling. Notably there is the incident of him doing this when the telegram boy arrives. His wife remonstrates with him. This begins a little light relief in the text. There is some foreshadowing here; a later telegram will say that Hani has chicken pox and Renate cannot come to visit. Renate knows that this cannot be true; she and Hani have both already had chicken pox. Something sinister is going on.  

Käthe Edler finds  herself accidentally at one of the Nuremberg rallies she is astounded that she actually also says Edler just as her  husband always did.  Again when she comes face to face with the Führer she uses Edler.

Hans Edler was cautious; he at least raised his arm like a good Nazi should. His daughter was an entirely different matter; she refused to do the Hitler salute at all. This may have been partly to do with her teachers. They hid her in plain sight. Yet they felt they couldn’t force her to join the BDM or salute the Führer. It wouldn’t be right for a young Jewish girl.

One can imagine as well, some households where rather than saluting the dictator they cursed him – in private, behind closed doors and under four eyes.           

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