Cantor: Family history reminds how similar the past, present are

Posted 5/19/22

I hate moving. I know I am not alone, but three times in less than a year, while enduring COVID and a broken hand… I really hate moving household.

Then this past weekend there were the …

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Cantor: Family history reminds how similar the past, present are


I hate moving. I know I am not alone, but three times in less than a year, while enduring COVID and a broken hand… I really hate moving household.

Then this past weekend there were the several mass shootings, the fanatics’, deranged way of dealing with people they don’t like, who think differently than they do. Look differently, speak differently. Walk and talk differently. Practice religion differently. So what does this have to do with moving?

Not being able to lift and carry much, my kids sat me down with boxes of memorabilia — photos, letters, newspapers and newspaper clippings, family bibles and personal journals.

The letters exchanged by great, great grandparents moving from Indiana to the Black Hills of western South Dakota, and then moving back to Indiana. A bible that holds family births, weddings and deaths reaching back to the 1700s, noting the arrival of family from Scotland to the Smoky Mountains. And letters from Hamburg, Germany in the mid- and late-1800s, between my great grandparents and an uncle living in Ohio, offering them a place to live as they fled a pogrom in the northern border area shared by Germany and Poland near the Baltic Sea.

Then there were the letters from family members fleeing Germany and Austria in the very early 1930s with the last letter arriving in 1949. A Catholic doctor’s wife, a cousin, wrote that he had been interned in a concentration camp because he was treating sick people of all colors, ethnic backgrounds, religions and genders. He died there.

Marriage licenses, birth certificates, death notices, the usual things families tuck away to hold onto memories. Among all of those things were the pictures, news clippings (my family has been in the news business for generations so we always mark things with the news of the day).

World War II, Sept. 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. June 22, 1941, Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

Being a history buff since third grade (yes, we used to value history and geography as much as we do STEM today…another story), I have asked people much smarter than me, how they perceived the rise of nationalism in Germany and Austria.

How did that horror happen?

  •  Economic instability resultant from World War I.
  •  Propaganda (especially the kind of information that is biased, and/or fabricated prejudice for or against a person or point of view) to promote or publicize a political point of view.
  •  Rallies to promote the propaganda and social gatherings.
  •  Demonizing a person or a group of people.

Actually, Feb. 24, 1920, when the German Workers’ Party changed their name to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, better known as the Nazi Party, the foundation was laid.

Yes, there are many similarities between now and then. Aren’t there always? Extreme nationalism, racism and antisemitism. “A-social” is the term given to anyone or any group that did not fit into what was considered normal by the German Aryan race.

We have come a long way from the German Nazi era. The prejudices that ruled Europe in the 1930s and ‘40s subsided — did not disappear completely. Sadly. Looking at the Ukranian-Russian conflict and seeing Central European nations like Poland and how they are providing for refugees from that conflict humanity and hope for this crazy world.

Why have I written this? My dad, my father in-law, and three cousins and two aunts served during WWII. Mostly in Europe. One in the Pacific.

I think they have been referred to as the “Greatest Generation.” What would they think of Europe today? Would they question how government and everyday society have evolved?

I guess the bigger question is, would they approve of how their children and their children’s off-spring have allowed our country to drift toward the same philosophies and practices that their grandfathers fought and died for in the mid-1930s and during World War II? Not something I like to think about, but if we are to not repeat the same inhumane horrific atrocities mankind is capable of and is condemned for, then we each need to take a breath and decide for ourselves what we can do to stop the drift.

Personally, I prefer voting to armed combat. Anyone who tries to take that vote away, I will not vote for. Anyone who advocates for making voting harder for any U.S. citizen does not deserve to hold office. Furthermore, anyone who violates their oath of office based on propaganda, they certainly do not deserve my vote. After all, that was their promise to voters that they would “protect” the Constitution. They broke their promise.

I watched a bald eagle nesting in the Eldorado Park Lake and Chapparal Park Lake, neighborhoods over the last couple of years.

It is a beautiful sight as the bird dips and dives into the lakes. He is adapting and growing his family… I thought there was just one. At least four live in our neighborhoods. There is actually room for them. And we are much better for their being here.

Editor’s Note: Nancy Cantor is a longtime Scottsdale resident and community advocate.


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  • xway.mike.norton

    Your best column ever, Nancy. Thank you. So well written.

    Thursday, May 19 Report this