Feels Sign is an ‘Abomination’
I was dismayed to say the least when I recently drove my 12- year-old daughter by La Crescenta County Park and saw a new sign saying Hindenberg Park [sic], which for our family harkens back to a very scary time.
This may seem like distant history to most folks but to my family it is personal. My daughter’s grandmother and great grandmother were held at Auschwitz and miraculously survived. My daughter immediately questioned the need for the sign and I was embarrassed that our hometown would think this was a good idea!
We know about the history of this park and we have discussed this in our family in sadness and wonderment that something so horrible could have happened right in our neighborhood!
We do not take lightly the gravity of those terrifying times. In my opinion this new sign draws attention and celebrates this park that not so long ago held this rally:
This sign is an abomination and causes myself and my family great pain and I should hope that it will be removed immediately!
I urge anyone who feels similarly to have your voice heard. The next meeting will be a held on today, Thursday, April 7 at 4 p.m. at the Sparr Heights Community Center in the Verdugo Room.
Sign Should Stay
The protests over the welcome sign (auf Deutsch) at Hindenburg Park are really getting out of hand. From confused letter writers who simultaneously accuse the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley and Mike Lawler’s columns of covering up our local history and celebrating its unsavory past to confused outside groups that want the sign removed because it implies celebration of Nazi atrocities, a completely erroneous assumption. A simple sign of welcome in German to a section of the park that the County long ago agreed to call Hindenburg in memory of the German immigrants who made this a place to celebrate their heritage with newfound friends in a new country that welcomed them in return. And this must be removed?
General Paul von Hindenburg is a revered figure by Germans in their history. He was born into the era that saw the triumphal unification of Germany in 1871. He came out of retirement at the beginning of WW1, and led the German armies to tremendous victories over the Russians. With his compatriot Erich von Ludendorf, he came close to winning the war for Germany in 1918, except for the intervention of the U.S. army. Retiring again, he watched as his country spiraled into financial ruin under the heavy reparation demands of the victorious allies, fractious political party maneuverings and assassinations, inept governing at the top of the Weimar Republic, and the social chaos of incessant street-fighting by those parties. He came out of retirement, and was elected President by wide margins, with a mandate to bring order to the widening anarchy. He detested Hitler and what he stood for, but as leader (Hitler) of the largest block of representatives in the parliament, Hindenburg felt he had no other choice and appointed him chancellor in January 1933. Hindenburg died the next year at age 87, and received a hero’s state funeral.
When newly arrived German immigrants to the Crescenta Valley in the late ’20s and early ’30s bought a piece of land for their cultural festivities, they naturally named it in honor of the president of the old homeland. Their annual celebrations of all things German were well attended by those immigrants from around the region, as well as valley residents. They tolerated the hiring of the grounds by the German Bund for the very few rallies that occurred in 1939. Several in the audience protested the intolerance of the Bund, and leaflets dropped from a plane also decried those untruths. Like so many other immigrant groups in their celebrations – then and now – the flag of the old homeland stood side by side with that of the new.
It is anachronistic and intellectually dishonest to attempt to quash or tear down the images of the past in one’s history that are nefarious and horrifying just to satisfy one person or group who are offended by them. Sweeping them out of the collective memory almost guarantees that those actions will be repeated again. The Jerusalem Philharmonic Orchestra played its first concert after the proclamation of Israel in 1948, with a program entirely devoted to the works of Richard Wagner, the great German composer so admired by the Nazis. It was a gesture of magnanimity, understanding and forgiveness by a people who had just suffered the worst possible horrors that human beings can do to others. Would that the ADL and those who agree with their stance show the same magnanimity and understanding for a mild and happy sign that only wants to commemorate German immigrants a and their culture, instead of freighting it with some sinister inference that is simply not there. The citizens of this valley are intrigued with all of the history found here, without fear or favor, and should not have to change or white-wash any of it to suit ignorance or outside pressure groups who have nothing better else to do.
The sign should stay.
Stuart Byles, Acting President
Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley