This past weekend I had a pretty weird, disturbing experience related to Nazism, which I only documented on my personal Facebook page. In retrospect, it’s probably just as good for blog fodder as anything else.
I must be a little naive, because somehow I’ve managed to live to age 52 without having any encounters with neo-Nazis or Nazi apologists. Why would I, right? I’m a writer, so I pretty much hang out with artistic types.
I was at an author event at a public library on Saturday, sharing a table with another author. Toward the end of the event, a third author came up to take our picture with our books. This person mentioned starting a Facebook page with all these pics for us local authors. Free publicity! Great, right?
Well, not so fast. I was chatting with this person – I’m keeping my account gender-neutral so as to avoid giving them any possible notoriety or publicity – and they had a bookmark about the book they’d written. I glanced at the bookmark and asked, “What led you to want to write about the Hitler Youth?”
A: When my mother was on her deathbed, I learned that she was in the Hitler Youth.
Me: (with as much diplomacy as I could manage) Wow. How did you cope with that?
A: I thought it was cool!
I wish I could say I started an argument right there. How could you possibly think that was cool, of all things? Wouldn’t it be a source of great shame? Instead, I put the bookmark down and started packing my stuff up…fast.
Before I had a chance to leave, though, this person got up on a little platform and started to speak to the entire room over a public address system about their book and about the Facebook group. I got the hell out of there.
Now, I have not read this person’s book, or even all the reviews about it, but I can tell you this: the bookmark mentions that the girls of the Hitler Youth were “chosen,” and that it was “a great honor.” It talks about building “character” and uses words like “fun” and “friendly.” No mention of brainwashing. No mention of, you know, the Holocaust. No condemnation of der Führer.
There’s a part of me that wishes I had slapped this person silly for not expressing any shame about their mother. And then there’s a part that simply says “I don’t want to be associated with any of this stuff.” I wrote an email to this person, letting them know that I don’t want my face or pictures of any of my books on that Facebook page, unless the book strongly condemns Hitler and the Nazis. I suspect I won’t get an answer.
What do you think? Anyone ever had such an experience, with a fellow writer, of all people? How would you handle it?