Last night freshman Iris uber Alles vented about an assignment in her world history class. One part of the assignment was to "write about a small group of people who have changed things." Although the assignment didn't specify that this needed to fall into the World War II era, Iris's class is studying WWII at the moment. Immediately I had an idea: the women of the Rosenstrasse protests.
Years ago I learned about these women. Although most Jews in Germany were rounded up and sent to camps, Jews who were married to Aryans were exempt. They were subject to a myriad of horrible restrictions (couldn't work, couldn't have a pet, must have their homes inspected, had to wear the yellow star, etc..), but they weren't sent off to Auschwitz or Treblinka. However, at one point, high level Nazis decided that they were going to give Hitler a special birthday present: making Berlin truly Juden-frei. The Jewish spouses were rounded up. To that point Germans had tended to look the other way, if not to celebrate and join in on Jew-killing, but these German wives were different. They made signs saying things like "Give Us Back Our Husbands" and protested publicly on Rosenstrasse, where most of the Jewish spouses were being kept (some were sent to Auschwitz). Shockingly the Nazis folded and freed these particular Jews, even releasing the ones who were in Auschwitz. I thought these women were a good example of how a few people could make a difference. Iris listened and made a few notes.
The Sober Husband was not ready to let me glean the glory of giving the winning suggestion. "I know a few people who made a difference, " he said. "What about the Nazis? Himmler?"
I gave him the evil eye. He continued in that vein. "Hitler was just one guy, and he made a difference"
"I am sure," I observed loftily, "that the assignment wants positive examples."
"How can you be so sure?" The Sober Husband smirked and continued to catalogue the powerful achievements of the Nazis.
"You're so negative! I had an uplifting and thoughtful example. You're picking something awful!" Then I changed gears. "What about Charles Manson, huh? He had a small group of followers, and they had a giant impact."
He started to answer, but I plowed on. "What about the Son of Sam? He was just one guy, and he had the whole city of New York in fear!"
Our squabbling continued until I loftily accused him of jealousy over my excellent suggestion. "I have told so many Jews about the Rosenstrasse protests, too. No one knows about it, and it's fascinating. You just want to be the most loved parent and not let Iris pick my idea!"
Defeatedly the Sober Husband instructed Iris, "Love Mommy the most. Do Mommy's idea."
Iris uber Alles had dropped out of this conversation early on and declined to make a ruling. "Anyone want to watch 'House of Cards'?" she asked diplomatically.