Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Who Is a ‘Criminal’?

Exile from one’s home is historically considered one of the worst punishments the state could employ; it was, after all, one of the traditional Greek and Roman punishments for murder, their alternative to the death penalty.

By Jason Stanley, New York Times
May 1, 2017
It was the spring of 1936. My grandmother, Ilse Stanley, had just returned from a theater tour that had kept her away from Berlin for almost the whole winter, only to discover a city in which “more and more friends were missing.” Soon after, a cousin arrived at her home. The Gestapo, her cousin told her, had taken her husband away to a concentration camp. In her 1957 book, “The Unforgotten,” my grandmother describes asking her cousin about the reasons for her husband’s arrest. Her answer:

“Because he was a criminal with a record. He had paid two fines in court: one for speeding and one for some other traffic fine. They said they finally wanted to do what the court had missed doing all these years: to get rid of all Jews with criminal records. A traffic fine — a criminal record!”[…]

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