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August 23, 2014

Holocaust survivor arrested in downtown St. Louis for supporting Michael Brown

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, True Crime — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:24 am

Regular readers of my blog might have noticed that I have not blogged for almost a week.  Don’t worry about me — I’m O.K., but I have not been blogging because I have been glued to my TV, watching the rioting in Ferguson, MO following the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by Darren Wilson, a white policeman.  You can read the details of the case here.

Darren Wilson the white police officer who shot Michael Brown

Darren Wilson the white police officer who shot Michael Brown

For those people, who have been living in a cave, and might not have heard about the case, the story involves 18-year-old Michael Brown, and another black teenager, Dorian Johnson, who was with him when Michael Brown was shot six times by a white police officer. You can read about the story, as told by Darren Wilson here.

Michael Brown had just robbed a convenience store, and he and his companion were making their get-away by walking nonchalantly down the double yellow line in the middle of a major street in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, MO.  The white policeman had just heard, over the radio in his police car, about the convenience store robbery.

90-year-old Jewish woman arrested in St. Louis, MO

90-year-old Jewish woman arrested in St. Louis, MO

The rioting in Missouri is now almost over, but now there is a Holocaust survivor involved. You can read the story of her arrest here.

According to the news article, “[Hedy] Epstein was 8 and living in Freiburg, Germany when Hitler came to power. A year after Kristallnacht, she was sent to England in a children’s transport. Like many others sent on the Kindertransport, Epstein never saw her family members again.” You can read about the Kindertransport to the UK here.

Some people think that Hedy Epstein does not warrant the status of a “Holocaust survivor.”  The Holocaust hadn’t started yet and Hitler was allowing the Jews to leave, if they could find a country that would accept them.

The story of the city of St. Louis is a story of “white flight.”  Ferguson, MO was formerly a white community, which had a white police force.  When white people moved out of Ferguson, and blacks moved in, the white police force stayed. You can read about it here.

I was born in a small town in Missouri, a few miles west of St. Louis. I can vividly recall my first trip to St. Louis. We drove through miles of slum housing before getting to downtown St. Louis.  As we passed through mile after mile of run-down houses with the paint peeling off, I was horrified to see such blight. This was where the black residents were forced to live because this was in the days of segregation and blacks could not live in white neighborhoods.

When I lived in Missouri years ago, St. Louis was known as “the Mound city.” The name referred to the mounds that had been built by Native Americans, known at that time as “Indians.”  There was also a mound in the small town where I lived, and arrows could still be found there, lying on the ground.

When I saw the TV coverage of the Michael Brown case, it was like watching the news in Germany.  All of the white people in the city of Ferguson, including the police officer who shot Michael Brown, looked German to me. The last time that I visited St. Louis, I walked into the St. Louis airport and for a moment, I thought that I was in the Munich airport.

German immigrants came to Missouri because the state of Missouri is in the same ecological zone as Germany. You see the same plants and trees in Missouri that you see in Germany. St. Louis is at the confluence of the Missouri river and the Mississippi river.  The Germans settled in many small towns along the Missouri river, including the town where I was born.  When World War II started, 25 percent of the citizens of Missouri were German American, including me.

Entrance into the St. Louis gated community

Entrance into the first St. Louis gated community

To understand the attitudes of white people in the St. Louis area, you should know that St. Louis was the first city ever to have a “gated community,” which was for white people only. You can read about it on Wikipedia here.

This quote is from Wikipedia:

Washington Terrace is a residential private place in St. Louis, Missouri, laid out circa 1892. The gate is south of Union and Delmar, within the bounds of the Central West End.

A private place is a self-governing enclave whose common areas like streets and common gardens are owned by the residents, with services are provided by the private sector, an experiment that foreshadowed the gated community in the U.S. by 100 years. About 50 of these enclaves once stood within the borders of the city of St. Louis. Most were designed by civil engineer Julius Pitzman between 1868 and 1905. Many of these developments, like Washington Terrace, are well-preserved and still gated, patrolled, and functioning as private enclaves.

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