“History Has Taught You Nothing”

Helen Keller confronts the Nazis on May 9, 1933:

“History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas. Tyrants have tried to do that often before, and the ideas have risen up in their might and destroyed them.”

True, but ideas are useless unless there are men and women to defend them.

Read the typescript of Keller’s letter to the students of Germany before they burned her book (How I Became a Socialist).  Read the handwritten postscript.  Read the accompanying text of Open Culture‘s post.  While it is true that the economic dislocations and governmental inertia of European countries after the first World War prevented action against Hitler, and ill-preparedness and pacifism in America long delayed action on our part, it is also true that people in power and people well-known in Western culture were aware of what was happening in Europe, and did what they could to warn us of the danger.  One would not have had to have been a socialist then to have understood the threat.  One does not have to be a socialist now to understand it.


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