As we reboot this Web site and our activities, it is good to remember what caused us temporarily to set aside career, move to Germany for 3-1/2 months, dig through dusty archives, and interview people who had stayed out of the limelight. We soon understood that everything that had been published to 1995 lacked depth. It contained only the Scholl story, a carefully manicured and whitewashed version of White Rose resistance.
It did not take long to understand that most histories of German resistance during the Shoah suffer from that same ailment. Since German privacy laws permit people to block access to archival material, and their descendants to continue the Sperre long after the individual's death, it can be overwhelming to dig for truth.
Early on, we developed our own credo of sorts, the ethics of scholarship that drove us. If you agree, and support this honesty in scholarship, please comment and add your name to the "I believe...".
In September 2021, we need this honesty not merely about the distant past, but about immediate history as well. We may not allow individuals to reinvent themselves, we must record events as they occurred, and shine a spotlight on those who drove those harmful events.
- I believe that everyone who said No to the Nazi regime deserves to have their story told, regardless of ethnicity, political agenda, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation.
- I believe that those who claim to have resisted the Nazis, but who did not, should be exposed, and the truth told about their activities during the war.
- I believe that not all Germans were “bad” people; that not all Germans agreed with National Socialist atrocities; and, that individuals – not German society – are responsible for crimes against humanity (no collective guilt).
- I believe that the silence of “good” Germans, those who did not resist the National Socialist regime, enabled those crimes against humanity to take place through their very silence (there is collective shame).
- I believe that innere Emigration (inner emigration) is a myth and that an individual’s actions during the Holocaust defined his or her character, not what he or she claimed postwar.
- I believe that all archives containing documents pertaining to the Holocaust should be open (“sunshine law”), available to any scholar for review and study, and that no individual or institution should be allowed to block access to files from that era.
- I believe that the historical record should not be skewed by theologians, clergy, religious professionals, or those whose devotion to faith trumps faithfulness to scholarship.
- I believe that primary source documents (Gestapo files, official trial records, interrogation transcripts, diaries, correspondence, newspaper articles) are generally more accurate than postwar memoirs or interviews, and that all primary sources must be carefully compared (historical process) to determine the most likely version of events.
- I believe that no one can know everything about the Shoah, and that therefore collaborative projects yield the best results.
- I believe that the Holocaust reminds us that no civilization is incapable of crimes against humanity; that it demonstrates that in the worst of times, goodness does not die; and, that informed dissent and civil disobedience during the Shoah came from flawed, imperfect, noble human beings, not from martyrs.