Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Month: June 2018 (page 1 of 2)

Repost from 2011: I learn that my narcissist ex-friend choked his daughter

In July 2011, I learned that my ex-friend Richard, a narcissist, had been charged with Child Abuse with High Probability of Great Harm and Second-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety.  I did not, however, know any details: which child, what did he do, and was it even the same Richard?  It was his name and birthdate, yet the address was different.  

On September 12, 2011, I found out the truth.  I was waiting anxiously for the police department to release its investigation into the Cruckson case that day.  James Cruckson had raped his ex-girlfriend, and while holed up in his house, shot and killed a police officer–then himself. 

Because the ex-girlfriend was reportedly physically abusive to him and her child, this case was highly controversial in the community, as people argued over whether or not she was really raped, did she try to set him up, etc. 

I followed a conversation in the comments of a local blog, and was especially interested because this was supposedly a woman abusing a man. 

I had become an advocate raising awareness, on Facebook and my website, of women abusing men, because of Tracy abusing Richard, and Chris’ wife abusing him as well.  So it was a big deal when the reports were released to the public.

While watching the website for the Fond du Lac newspaper, waiting for the reports to be released, I happened to come across a feature I did not previously know about: weekly court cases, presented with mug shots and a short description. 

I had been watching the print version’s court cases for years, but lately they’d been missing.  So that’s where they put them! 

I began poking around, scanning through the archives, looking for information on what Richard did.  And there it was, in the March 4, 2011 court cases! 

No more doubt that it was the same Richard, because the address was different–That was him in that mug shot!  And with such an angry look!  I yelled at the picture for what he had done to that girl.

The old court cases were purged from the Net in 2013, but I still have the printouts. 

As I had been doing ever since the “friendship” ended, I went to my real friends for support, expressing my shock and anger at what he had done to his own daughter. 

(My friends are far away, but we are connected by e-mail and Facebook; I also reconnected with some old friends here in town who had drifted off.) 

Their comfort and support helped me realize that my reaction matched the situation, that this was an evil deed. 

This was important, because my own Stockholm Syndrome still affected me a year after the end of the friendship, still made it hard to tell myself that Richard was not the kind, gentle, loving soul I always thought he was. 

I posted the following on my website two days later:

Now I know what happened, something so terrible that Todd is so disgusted that he has dropped Richard even from Facebook, and regrets ever having let Richard into his life, let him influence him, etc. etc.

[Added 3/17/14: I don’t know if Todd told Richard why he dropped him from Facebook.  But I do know that he said that Richard is a “f**king scumbag” and that Richard–who at the time had an icon of a saint for his Facebook profile picture–is a hypocrite

Todd also said that if Richard kept coming to my church, then Richard and my husband needed to have a little talk about Richard not going there anymore. 

Todd has also seen some of the nasty e-mails Richard and Tracy sent to us, and knows about the abuse.]

The details are on the local newspaper’s website, in its weekly listing of court cases and mug shots, from the week of 3/4/11:

On September 21, 2010, the oldest child, who was 9 at the time, was being a typical child, not listening to Richard or cleaning up, when he strangled her until she passed out, and she awoke on a couch.

(He often complained that the kids did not listen to him and clean up.)

She told the police the following day, he admitted to the police that he did this and why, and said that he apologized to her when she woke up.

He was summoned to court and officially charged on March 1, 2011, the same day I posted my letter to CPS, and released on bond.  His court date is very soon.

Now I’m told that when this same daughter was very small, he got so angry with her once that he beat her mercilessly.  This poor girl has been through so much crap in her young life, and now this?  Kudos to her for telling the police instead of pretending everything was okay.

This incident tells me that Richard is not worth my grief, that I should not regret losing his friendship, that his and Tracy’s opinions on anything and everything–including me–are suspect, questionable, and not to be taken seriously or sleep lost over it.

He and Tracy are just big, violent bullies who want to push other people around and intimidate them until they get their own way, and punish them–verbally or sometimes physically–for having their own minds and feelings about things.

I thought for so long that he was so awesome and cool; turns out he’s just a big bully.  He had told me a couple of times that he had abused the children in the past, but that he wasn’t doing that anymore.  

But this incident was in 2010, not 2006 or 2005 or 2004 or whenever he might have done the previous abuse.  This shows that he is not reformed, after all.

Especially because of his size (6’5 and 400 lb.) and strength, this shows that he is not safe for anyone to be around, whether small child, woman, man, anybody.

He deserves to sit in jail for a long time, and he just might.  It puts his comments that he wanted to “strangle” me for something once, into a whole new, disturbing light–because it may have been literal.

This LIAR told me that Tracy was the abuser, when he himself was also abusing the kids.  This also means that when he told me Tracy was abusing him, while I could see that she was truly abusing both him and the kids, he was probably abusing her as well!

This, at last, is the “ah-ha” moment I needed to put this issue to rest in my mind, all the self-reflection, wondering if something they said may have been correct, wondering if I should’ve done something different.

It shows me that I was correct to think they are abusive and manipulative bullies, vindicates my letter to CPS, vindicates me.

It shows me that they have absolutely no business lecturing anyone about right and proper behavior, or boundaries, because they don’t respect the boundaries of others and behave very poorly, selfishly and boorishly.

It tells me that Richard manipulated me into thinking that Tracy was the problem, and that he had learned to control himself through religion, when he himself still has violent tendencies.

It tells me that Tracy’s opinions of me and my behavior, and her justifications of herself, are just so much dung to be thrown into the sewer.

It tells me that when Richard blamed me for anything, or lectured me for anything, or told me it was stalkerish to save all my letters, or told me I shouldn’t get upset about him not calling when he said he would or responding to my e-mails, or told me that even little kids know that giving a compliment is your cue to start a conversation–that his lectures also needed to be thrown into the sewer.

It tells me that yes, Tracy is indeed a malignant narcissist and/or narcissistic borderline personality disordered person who only seeks her own twisted ends and doesn’t care about the rights or opinions of others, that I was probably right to suspect that she twisted anything I did or said when reporting to Richard about it, so that he believed her and thought badly of me.

(Once he told me she said I had manipulated Jeff into doing something, when that wasn’t true at all!)

[2014 note: I added “narcissistic” to “borderline” after discovering that there are different kinds of BPD.  I want to distinguish between those who do and do not wish to cause harm.]

It tells me that yes, Richard is indeed a narcissist who twists his way into your heart (whether you’re male or female), manipulates you into doing what he wants you to do and then lets you take the heat

(such as when he began manipulating me into thinking it was perfectly right and proper for him to give me long hugs or put his head on my shoulder when Jeff and Tracy weren’t around and then let Tracy blame me when she found out, when he knew full well what Tracy’s temper was like while I had never even met her before),

then sucks you dry and tosses you aside when your narcissistic supply becomes old or inconvenient.

It tells me that I’m done grieving over the loss of his friendship, done wishing things were different, because there is no way on this earth that I’m going to be friends with child abusers.

[Addendum written 2014:] On September 12, 2011, at 8:13pm, 6 hours after posting a link to the Cruckson case report, I posted to Facebook in a fury I could no longer contain for social niceties,

The one I thought was my awesome, best friend–I was SO fooled. Whatever he and his wife may have thought, the true reason we “broke up” with them was that they’re both violent bullies–verbally and physically.

I witnessed and was told of domestic & child abuse. The LIAR, he told me SHE was the abuser.

But the local newspaper says that HE *choked* his eldest till she passed out. CHOKED her. Confessed to it. And will probably go to jail for it. I NEVER want to see those creeps again!

Todd replied,

What the F**K? They did sh*t so bad it’s in the newspaper? That’s disgusting. And to think I was friends with them once, too. Do you have the link to the article?

He was especially disgusted after seeing the mug shot and court records for himself, since they were freely available online.  One friend said to let CPS protect the kids and not dwell on it.  I responded,

It’s hard not to when for about 5 years I thought he was so cool…when we had seemed like such close friends…when he told me the awful things his wife was doing and that he had to be around to protect the kids from her….

Now to find out that HE is also capable of awful things.

Then I think back and remember: some details of his violent past, being arrested dozens of times for I know not what, how he almost assaulted his landlady until his wife talked him out of it, how he threatened physical violence against my husband for sticking up for me when my “friend” and I were having problems, how he used to be a thug of some kind (I didn’t get many details) when his friends were doing shady activities back in college [that’s the Mafia thing], that he told me if his wife ever cheated he’d take a baseball bat to the guy (just like the Apostle), that if she ever hit him in the face while punching him he would fight back as if she were a man….

Keep in mind that he’s very big and powerful…..I shudder to think what it was like for the eldest girl, only 9 years old at the time, getting choked by him.

It makes me wonder why my husband and I both witnessed the family all together back in June, three months after the charges were filed. I can only hope CPS is working closely with them and getting them to make changes, for him to be allowed to be so close to them.

Another friend wrote,

Oh Nyssa.  That is so very sad. I can’t even imagine why that child is still with parents like that. I agree with you and hope CPS is working closely with them. Also, I’m sure that must be difficult news to find out about your exfriend. Prayers!

The first friend wrote,

Ok, that is too much to forget about. Maybe you should write about your experiences with them to start yourself on the path of recovery? Please know that your true friends would never manipulate you like that and we support you whatever your decisions.

If you saw them in a public place in June, maybe CPS was nearby. But then again, maybe not. This seems like the type of couple that can play a part to manipulate a judge.

I wrote,

Yes, I’ve been writing down my experiences….It seems that the more I remember, the angrier I get….

I saw plenty that the wife was doing–screaming, cussing, smacking around, belittling the children. I heard her yelling at my “friend” and screaming and cussing at others….

She made all sorts of nasty comments to me and deliberately in my hearing and kept getting angry at me. I didn’t get too close to her because of that, but of course, she acted like *I* was the one with the problem, that I was making excuses of shyness etc. for not talking with her much, and tried to force me to befriend her to “prove” that I wasn’t out to “move in on” her husband. (We were just friends!)

And he just kept enabling her. Who needs that kind of drama?

After she became especially nasty one day after an e-mail which she read into all sorts of things that weren’t there, and posted on FB that she’s having a GREAT day because she finally was allowed to scream at me, Jeff and I dropped them like hot potatoes.

But I thought that my “friend,” at least, was a gentle person trying to tamp down his violent past and be pious…. Then I began to write and remember….

My husband told me how, on the day we ended the “friendship,” this guy tried to get into his face and tower over him (he’s very tall) and scream at him, and Jeff yelled at him, “You SIT DOWN! Don’t intimidate me like that!”

And they both went on about how 99% of people would react even more severely than his wife did, etc. etc…..

For so long I’ve been mourning the loss of the friendship and wishing things were different and wondering if maybe, someday, it can be restored. Constantly going over my own part in things and wondering if I should have done some things differently.

But now that I have proof–from our local newspaper and the state’s public court case website–that my “friend” has done something horrible–NO WAY. All the self-reflection can now STOP. All the grief can stop. There’s nothing here that I want back.

My friend wrote,

And there is nothing you did that was wrong. You’ve turned the other cheek to them so often you’ll be spinning for the better part of a year. Keep on writing and maybe go to the batting cages to release the anger.

I wrote,

And yes, I have reported them to CPS–ironically, posting my letter to them the same day he was charged with child abuse. So they know what I know. I’ve done all I can.

At the time, I thought the report would lead to services offered to the family, such as parenting classes and anger management and the like, and CPS would work with them to improve their lives.

When a guy shot a cop and himself after a domestic abuse situation with his ex-girlfriend here in town, I thought, “I hope that my letter to CPS means that my ex-friends won’t turn out like this!”

I had no clue that the same day I sent the letter, one of them was being charged with intentional child abuse causing injury (high probability of great harm) and 2nd-degree recklessly endangering safety, both felonies which could lead to many years in state prison.

At the time, I was very low spiritually, wondering how God could have led these people into my life and then ripped them out again in such horrible circumstances.

Now I see His leading, helping me find the spiritual answers I was seeking 6 years ago, but also putting me in position to witness things that needed to be brought to the attention of authorities.

I was there to try to influence them if possible and save them from themselves, I think, because I did try, but they scoffed at my opinions.

Then God yanked me out of the situation just in time–only two and a half months before this horrible thing happened.

And kudos to that little girl for having the courage to tell the police what happened.

Another friend wrote,

God works mysteriously, and thank God that girl had such courage. I’ve been in situations as a teacher where I knew abuse was occurring, but the child had been so well trained to lie and protect the parent.

Nyssa, you are a beautiful soul. It is so Christ-like to see the good in such a person. I remember the pain you suffered when the friendship ended, but in hindsight: what a blessing!

I’ve made some really sorry choices sometimes in friendships too, so please don’t beat yourself up about it. Lesson learned. Blessings and prayers!

I wrote,

Thanks! It’s painful to think of someone I trusted and thought was a good person, doing something like this….

But I’m told that when this girl was very small, he beat her mercilessly once. What kind of person does such a thing to a little girl??? And now he’s proven that he’s not reformed, after all.

The only good place for him is in jail, sad to say.

And of course, when it became clear that Tracy was still with Richard, some of us wondered WHY?  HOW can you stay with the man who nearly killed your daughter?  One person said she had seemed too smart for that.  We were all quite puzzled by the whole thing.

 

Abusive ex Phil has a new bride….

There are certain people I’ve encountered throughout my life who I, occasionally, look up on the state’s court records website, because they have violent and/or abusive and/or otherwise criminal records.  One is my former boss, though he’s done nothing criminal in the past 10 years.

(Speaking of former bosses, I had two at the same time.  The narc one who abused his wife and ended up in jail, was my secondary boss.  My other boss, my primary boss, just died a week and a half ago.  He moved with his wife to Florida 15 years ago when he retired and didn’t keep in touch, so I didn’t know until I saw the obituary a few days ago.  He was as old as my dad was.  Still dealing with the thought that my old boss isn’t on this earth anymore.  🙁   )

Another is this sociopath.  He’s on the sexual offender registry for taking naughty pics of a 15-year-old.  This is a weird guy with fixations on the idea that Christianity is EVIL and that the US government is EVIL and out to get him.  I even found him featured on an episode of some obscure tinfoil-hat Youtube channel.  The police had trouble identifying him because he is a natural-born American citizen but has no documentation, but has several aliases and birthdates.  He says he wrote popular games for Atari and even took down some bank with a computer virus.

He said my SCA group, especially my husband, were somehow persecuting him some 20 years ago, because we asked him to remove his personal religious views from our group’s official website, which he ran.  (Seriously, he had articles about astral projection on there, making us appear to be some kind of religious cult instead of an informal educational group.)

He once threatened to take down Charter Cable with a trojan because of his persecution complex.  He’s made enemies all over Sheboygan in the years since he moved there–One Sheboygan forum even had a whole section full of his haters.

He insists that his conviction is all some big PLOT against him.  He refused to follow the terms of being on his registry, so ended up in jail.  I found several articles about him, and read his manifesto to the court on how he’s being persecuted.

He’s already on his fifth lawyer and STILL has not gone to trial.  They keep withdrawing, or he keeps kicking them out, I don’t know.  He also–many times–refuses to be transported to his hearings, even though he’s in jail.  I didn’t know you could do that???!!!

Another is a person connected with the trolls.  She lives in Wisconsin, and once even contacted me with a nasty message.  She used to be a troll, but turned against them, even though she still stalks their usual target.  The trolls say she died several months ago, but their usual target says her Twitter account is still active, and he doesn’t believe it.  I also have found no record of a death in her hometown newspaper.  She tried a few times to take out restraining orders against him and a troll, but failed.

Another is my ex Phil, the one who abused me worse than any of my other abusive exes.  You can read all about him in my college memoirs, where the stories about him covered two years.  In short, he:

  1. sexually abused me, which included trying to force me into anal sex, and forcing me into oral sex
  2. threatened to physically abuse me, and slapped and otherwise abused his next girlfriend Persephone
  3. verbally, mentally and emotionally abused me
  4. played mindbending tricks on me, playing on my gullibility to manipulate me
  5. tried to separate me from my friends, and even said my family was against him
  6. made his friends believe I was the abuser; one then turned into a flying monkey who tried to lecture me into submission to Phil
  7. verbally abused Wife #2, as witnessed by my friends after I graduated
  8. and probably other stuff which I don’t remember right at this moment

He “had” to marry Wife #2.  My friends called her my “replacement” because not only did she join their group after I graduated, but Phil began dating her.  They said that watching them together was like watching him and me all over again, which disturbed them.  The difference was that she’d lie about where she was, when she’d miss an InterVarsity or sorority event because of him.  They even tried to warn her from marrying him, but she didn’t listen.

Well, it lasted about 10 years.  He posted on Classmates.com that she didn’t “support” him in a job move.  Knowing how he used to throw that word around against me, I suspect it wasn’t so simple.  I also found in the court records that he was convicted of disorderly conduct years ago.  There were no public records of what he did, but there was a victim who gave a statement.  I believe it was before the divorce from Wife #2.  Make of that what you will, since that’s all the information I could find.

Now I decided to check again.  Turns out that, just yesterday, his own sister filed a harassment restraining order against him!

I also found, through his Facebook, that he has a new fiancee or wife.  I looked her Facebook over as well.

Don’t worry: It’s way too long ago–24 years–for me to be jealous or otherwise adversely emotionally impacted by checking out my ex’s profile or his new bride’s.  In fact, he and I have exchanged a few messages via social media, not recently but in the past 10 years.  So I can handle it.

But what shocked me was his new bride’s posts about him.  There were a lot of them, of course.  She is besotted; he clearly is, too, despite a huge age difference.  Her friends say how great he is, what a great couple they are.  And I wonder–

Has he changed CONSIDERABLY since I knew him?

Or is this just the lovebombing stage?

They’ve only been together about a year or two from what I see, and either just got married, or will soon.  He and I were together far less than that, but we had a whirlwind romance and a nonlegal marriage after only two months.  It was longer than that before he married Wife #2, during which time I could tell–from what she said at a party one Christmas–that he was lovebombing her.  My friends heard him yell at her in the dorm, but he can still sweet-talk you so much that you forget about it.

Well, marriage #2 ended after only 10 years, so obviously the lovebombing didn’t last.  It didn’t last long into our marriage, either.  And now he has just married Wife #3, or will soon.  So it’s still lovebombing time.

So I wonder, looking at new wife’s Facebook timeline–Has he changed considerably in 24 years?  Or is he just putting on the usual show until he has the new woman hooked?

Persephone saw the same issues in him that I did.  My friends saw him as controlling and possessive.  My friends hated him not just for how he treated me, but for how he treated Wife #2 in their presence.  This pattern tells me that the problem in our relationship was not me.

As I struggled for many years to work through the emotional trauma Phil put me through, using writing therapy and research into abuse, I began to identify all sorts of ways that he manifested signs of narcissism.

And then there’s that new fact that his own sister just took out a restraining order against him yesterday.

BTW, I also saw on his sister’s Facebook that she works and fights against child abuse, just as I do.  It makes me wonder if she ever saw the signs that Phil himself was abusive to his wives.

So–Has he really changed?  Is he really the wonderful, sweet, angelic man that his new bride and her friends think he is?

Maybe check back in a year or two…..

Update 7/14/18: 

The court date finally came.  Then they rescheduled because Phil was never actually served.  Seems they made his sister do the serving, which I don’t understand because wouldn’t it be dangerous to have somebody serve their own restraining order?

Anyway, the second court date finally came this week.  Turns out Phil was still never served, and neither he nor his sister showed up at court, so the restraining order was dismissed.

Since none of them are posting about it on Facebook, the online court records have no details, and maybe Phil didn’t even know about it since he was never served, I guess I’ll never know what th’ heck that was about.  All I know is that Phil does not appear to be Facebook friends with his brother or sister or even his own mother.  Weird.

 

It’s Stop Cyberbullying Day #StopCyberBullying #CyberBullies #CyberBullyingStories

I post this as a victim of cyberbullies myself:

  1. the trolls as described here, who also have been relentlessly cyberbullying somebody else for a few years now, and started cyberbullying me out of mistaken identity–yet kept stalking and harassing me until I finally found and blocked them all; these are frightening trolls who try to get into your real life and contact your friends, who have even tried to find their regular target’s house
  2. my stalkers Richard and Tracy, who have been keeping an eye on me for SIX YEARS now, trying to intimidate me into silence about how they have abused me, each other, their kids, and many others as well
  3. going way back, this chick on a BBS who cyberbullied a lot of people

It’s great to see this Stop Cyberbullying Day, which I learned about from a William Shatner tweet.  Just like the #MeToo movement, let’s get #StopCyberBullying trending and share our stories.

I’ll leave the comments open for people who want to share their stories–but no trolling is allowed.

Click on the badge to go to the Cybersmile website, with resources on cyberbullying.

 

 

 

Andrew Louth on homosexuality in the Orthodox Church and over-sexualization of relationships

In the latest issue of The Wheel–an Orthodox publication which I’m not familiar with, but appears to publish a wide range of thought, not just conservative/traditional–is Andrew Louth’s essay “Being Human.”

Not only does it impress me by being thoughtful–questioning the usual response of the Church to homosexuality/same-sex marriage–but by bringing up the over-sexualization of our modern Western culture.

He compares the usual conservative response to the controversies we’ve seen before–such as evolution, ordaining women, the position of women in society.  He notes that appeals to tradition are often a fear of change rather than a thoughtful response.  He says the problems won’t go away, because they’re connected to a fundamental change in modern society and what we now know about the biological and cultural influences on sexuality and gender.

Then he notes that modern Western society–at least in his English experience, which sounds much like the American–has been over-sexualizing all human relationships.  People look on all sorts of friendships and familial relationships with a suspicious eye if they get too “physical,” because even kisses on the cheek or hugs become somehow “sexual.”  Or people see best friends of the same sex, especially if they live together, and think they MUST be lovers who need to “come out of the closet” and admit it.

I’ve complained about this several times over the years on this website, because this prudish idea of friendship and touch affected my own life as well.  And yes, it’s tiresome to have your motives questioned because you have a close, opposite-sex friend, especially one who likes to hug.

Louth notes that it wasn’t always like this, and that it mostly seems to be the English (American) societies which are like this.  He asks, is it because of Freud? or consumerism with its easy pleasures?

So you have here a more pastoral response to modern questions–How do you deal with someone who is devout but can’t stop feeling attracted to the same sex?  And how many people aren’t actually sexually attracted to the same sex, but other people think they must be because of a close friendship?  And how much damage do we do to all human relationships by reducing them to sexuality?

Louth’s essay is refreshing, not what I’ve been seeing and hearing so much lately from Orthodox sources.  My summary doesn’t do it justice.  Not only does he NOT condemn those who want to be allowed to marry someone of the same sex, or the transgendered–

but his words reassure me that I did nothing wrong in my friendship with Richard.  I got so much condemnation over that, from his wife and even from people online, even though I have had and still have many friendships with guys, even close ones.  That old-fashioned and sexist thinking that close opposite-sex friendships MUST be considered “inappropriate” until proven otherwise–that’s like Mike Pence refusing to be in a room alone with any woman.  It’s ridiculous and reduces you to your genitals, rather than who you are as a person.  And Tracy making me feel like I did something horrible and dirty because of HUGS–It’s taken me years to try to undo the mindscrew that put me through.

But here is an Orthodox archpriest saying that opposite-sex friendships (Samuel Johnson had them), same-sex friendships, hugs, a kiss on the cheek, being close to someone in any type of relationship, that there’s nothing wrong with it and we do great damage to ourselves if we reduce every relationship and touch to sex.  It has harmed not only friendships, especially same-sex ones, but even familial relationships.  Everything becomes suspicious, making us afraid to get close to each other.  People see “incest” where none exists.

Quoted from Louth:

My sense is that human ways of being together are very varied, and that we are being seduced by the sexualization of modern Western society into thinking that the modes of human being-together are to be defined in sexual terms. This seems to me to be just as true of those who want to argue that the ideal form of human living is monogamous union.

He does not appear to say outright that Orthodox priests should start performing same-sex marriages, but just to say that Orthodoxy needs to stop knee-jerking reactions to it and actually think through a response instead of just holding on to tradition for tradition’s sake.

Orthodoxy in Dialogue writes about the Wheel issue here and in previous posts.

 

Repost from 2016: Just Finished Slaughterhouse Five

My first exposure to it was in college: My freshman year, my boyfriend Peter and I took a Winterim class (one month) called Science Fiction for the Fun of It.  Along with reading a book of short stories, every class period, we watched a movie.  One of them was Slaughterhouse Five.

Over the years, I completely forgot what was in the movie or what it was about.  I forgot there was such a city as Dresden.

I may have learned about the firebombing in school, since I see references to the raids on German cities in my old German and History textbooks.  I do remember learning something about the bombing in German class, and feeling appalled at the destruction of historic architecture.

But I don’t remember hearing about how many civilians died in these bombings.  Maybe I thought they had evacuated; I don’t remember.  I may have learned something about it in school, but it’s been more than 20 years since I graduated college (argh), so I forgot about it.

Fast-forward to 2015: While researching my novel about a Nazi time-traveler, I stumbled across some webpages which I thought were Wikipedia, but were actually some neo-Nazi site, and learned about the bombings, including Dresden.

Cross-referencing through various other sources has proven that while the site may have given me some faulty or one-sided info about the war, it is correct about the bombings.  Of course, it doesn’t give the other side, how the Germans bombed European cities and ravaged civilians deemed “subhuman,” such as Jews, Russians, Poles, gypsies, homosexuals, etc. etc.  But yes, the bombings really did happen.

In the course of my research, I discovered that Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut is about the bombing of Dresden.  So I bought the book with birthday money and, these past couple of weeks, read it.  It’s such an easy read, and so short, that it only took two weeks.

Kurt Vonnegut not only hid in a meat locker with other prisoners during the bombing of Dresden, but had to help clean up the carnage afterwards.  Before the bombing, the beautiful city looked like Oz to him.  He saw the people there, with their translucent skin from having nothing to eat for years but potatoes, just trying to get here and there, go to work and home again.

He became a pacifist.  It took him more than 20 years to finally write about the experience, despite wanting to for so long.  He tried to find information for research, but they told him it was still secret.  Vonnegut writes that the government kept the extent of the Dresden bombing secret from the American public for many years, afraid of the backlash.

Because yes, there were many who would object to the bombing of civilians.  Even back then, before the 60s and the peace movement.  Even though today I find–in the comment section of Youtube videos and blogs–people complaining about modern generations who aren’t willing to recognize what had to be done to win the war.

Really?  Must we–in order to fight an enemy, no matter how evil–do the same things the enemy does?  Because that’s what Nazi Germany did: firebombed cities.

Must we look on an entire city–whichever city–as full of evil people, just as evil as their government?  Especially in a totalitarian, fascist government which suppresses all opposition?

There was no organized, wide-scale movement against the government in Germany, because everyone who tried was killed or severely punished.  But I keep finding accounts and interviews of people who lived during that time; they keep saying, “My father was against the government, but he had to keep it very quiet or they’d take him away.”

Especially in 1945 when the war was clearly lost, and refugees fled the bombings of other cities and the advance of the Russians, how many of those people honestly still supported the government?  How many just wanted the war to end and sanity to regain control of the country?

But the Allied bombings didn’t just kill civilians of the Axis countries.  According to For You the War is Over by David A. Foy, the relentless bombings of civilians put the Allied POWs in Germany in serious danger, especially after Dresden: The POWs could sometimes be victims in air attacks on cities or trains.  Germans began calling the airmen “Luftgangsters,” believing they were deliberately chosen from the American mob to inflict death on women and children.

In the latter part of the war, any airman who was shot down over Germany was actually safer in the hands of enemy soldiers than of the civilians.  Civilians were in such a frenzy of anger and revenge that our boys could get lynched.  Angry guards in POW camps could become trigger-happy after their families were bombed.

And Hitler made things more difficult for POWs, so attempted escapes were more likely to lead to death instead of a stint in the cooler.  Only Eva’s influence kept Hitler from ordering the deaths of all Allied air force POWs after Dresden.  According to one POW, Stalag Luft I was very nearly wiped out in retaliation for an attack on a refugee train.  The POW claimed that SS troops were sent to do this, but the Kommandant’s troops surrounded them and refused to let them do it.

I see a lot of extreme thinking about these bombings: One side ignores the atrocities of the Nazis, even explains them away or says the Holocaust is a hoax.  They say there’s an Illuminati; they say Hitler and the Nazis were just misunderstood.  They say the Jews really are a problem and that xenophobia is not a sin.  They say the Allied leaders were war criminals.

The other side says the bombings were absolutely necessary.  They scold the people who say we shouldn’t have done this.  They say there was no other way to win the war.

But maybe there’s a middle way: recognize that while we had to beat the Nazis, that doesn’t mean our side was always correct in its actions.  We do the same in looking at American history with various groups, such as Native Americans and black slaves, recognizing when our government committed crimes against them; why not with World War II?

Yes, the governments we were fighting were evil, but that doesn’t mean all the people were.  And it doesn’t mean our leaders were saints who could do no wrong.  We can celebrate our leaders for winning the war, but realize that they were still human beings with faults, not gods.

And remember, going forward, that we can change how we do things.  Vonnegut taught his sons to never rejoice over a massacre of their enemies, and to not participate in one, or even work for a company which makes massacre machinery.

He also wrote that it’s our babies who are sent to fight these wars.  These kids are 18, 19, 20, and getting sent off to kill or be killed.  Even his criminally insane character Lazzaro considers the bombing of German cities, and says that back home he never killed anyone who didn’t have it coming.

After decades of trying but failing to write his book on Dresden, Vonnegut finally settled on something that worked: science fiction/satire.  In the midst of a silly story about a guy coming “unstuck in time,” captured by aliens and put in a zoo, and mated with a porn star, is a profound story about the evils of war.  Apparently this was the only way Vonnegut could truly deal with the trauma.  And he does it brilliantly.

 

Olderposts

Copyright © 2019 Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Powered by ClassicPress | Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: