Earlier this week, my local Tea Party group (The Daisy Mountain Tea Party Patriots) had the privilege of listening to a panel of three people who had lived under separate totalitarian rule at some point in their lives. They discussed how they survived, as well as their appreciation of America and concerns for her safety today. The third and final speaker was my friend, Mr. Daniel Paul from the Polish Ukraine.
Unlike the other two speakers, Daniel had to endure two different kinds of totalitarianism during his lifetime: the National Socialism of the Nazi party and Soviet Communist socialism. Daniel was born in 1926 to German parents; he was a young boy when Hitler came into power. The Nazis forced his father to farm on land stolen from a Pole. Daniel was troubled; he could not understand why they would forced his father to do work he was not suited for on property that was not even his. This was clearly an example of the forced redistribution of wealth and poverty, although he did not personally experience concentration camps that forced people to work or risk starving to death.
Daniel was forced to wear the Nazi uniform in the German Army for just over a year at the end of World War II. After the war ended, he found himself as a prisoner of war for three and a half years, living in Austria and France during this time. When he was released, he could have returned to his mother, who lived in the Ukraine under Bolshevik rule. But he refused, as did many others; Daniel said that they would “rather be dead than red.”
He moved to America in March 1954, specifically to Flint, Michigan. He was happy that he could work in whatever profession he wanted and worship how he pleased, without conditions (under Nazi rule, worship was permitted, although priests had to be members of the party.) Daniel was also relieved that no one asked any overtly personal questions to him. A stonemason by trade, he started receiving more work than he had time for; by the time he had become a naturalized citizen in 1959, he had started his ow business, with six people working for him.
Daniel was a Democrat when he came here; within three years, however, he switched to the Republican party because the unions changed his mind. First and foremost, however, he considers himself a “conservative patriot.” Inspired by Democratic President John F. Kennedy’s call to “ask what you can do for your country,” Daniel takes this as an instruction to “do as I please for my country.”
Naturally, he wishes that Hitler never came into power and that the German populace stopped him before things got really ugly under Nazi rule when he has been asked why Germany didn’t stop him sooner. As he noticed that no one seemed to care just after Hitler took power, he sees a lot of the same indifference today under the Obama regime. Also, when he first became an American, he did have to sign an agreement that he would not be a burden to society, as did everyone else immigrating to the US. “My, how things (have) changed,” he observed.
As he was brainwashed under Nazi rule, he sees Americans (kids and adults) being brainwashed today, including his own children. He would tell young people today that socialism means the taking away of freedom to make basic personal decisions in life and imposes a monopoly on everything. “Don’t be fooled; there is no free ride,” he warns my generation. Of course, in my view he is preaching to the choir.
Photo credit: Leo Reynolds (Creative Commons)