Why did so many Jews stay too long in Nazi Germany?

You would think, by the time their shops were being vandalized in the early 1930s and certainly by 1939 when they were being forced to wear the Jewish Star, German Jews would have figured out that it was time to flee the regime at any cost. Fighting was not an option. Gun ownership was banned and they were too few and scattered anyway. The “good” Germans were scared to death, too. Helping a Jew hide or escape was tantamount to a death wish.

Many German Jews did flee, of course. At great cost and danger. Nowhere is this depicted more vividly than in Herman Wouk’s great work, The Winds of War. And nowhere is the failure of so many Jews to flee depicted more tragically than in the followup work, War and Remembrance. If you want to understand World War II, those two works – or the television miniseries based on them if you can find a copy – will not only give you an understanding of the history but will transport you to the horrors – and humanity – of the Holocaust. The characters are relatable, normal people young and old, simple and sophisticated, like you or I. Real people.

For me the need to prepare for disaster came home as I watched what happened in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. If you were stuck there, you were hopeless. Besides the rain, the wind, and the flooding from the government-mismanaged levies’ failing, there was widespread looting and rampant unchecked criminal behavior. In the midst of this, the government had the lamebrain idea of going door to door confiscating legal weapons, depriving citizens of the right to defend themselves when the police were too busy even to respond to crimes, much less prevent them!

It was shortly after Katrina that I started looking for land away from the city – way out Charlotte Pike, so to speak, which is U.S. Route 70, running across Tennessee from Memphis through Nashville to Knoxville. When the Nashville flood hit in 2010, I redoubled my efforts and finally in 2012 I closed on 28 secluded acres with shelter and a natural spring about an hour from Nashville. You would not believe how affordable it was. Finally I had an escape but better than that, I had my own little piece of Paradise. The many hours I have spent since then improving that property, enjoying the flora and fauna and serenity of the environment, have been a priceless antidote to the stress of working, financial uncertainties, up and down relationships, you name it, that we are all prone to face as part of normal life.

The soul singer James Brown – whom I once met, by the way, but that will be a story for another time – was a raucous entertainer but a meticulous, hardworking man who did not tolerate slackers lightly. He once said, “If you stay ready, you ain’t got to get ready.”

So get ready. People who do that are called preppers now. It is easy to make fun of preppers but it is not so easy to be one. For one thing, it is hard to know what to prep for. Earthquake? Tornado? Flood? Or bigger… EMP? Civil War? Fascist takeover of your country??? I don’t know, either. But I do have a place to go and I’ve got a bag packed in case I have to go there. I don’t cower in a cave and I haven’t become a hoarder; in fact quite the opposite. But I am getting readier all the time so that when all else around me fails, I can stand on my own two feet, help out my family and my fellow man rather than being a burden to them, and hopefully get by until things get better.

How are you getting ready?

Take a few minutes to think about it. This might just be a good time. If nothing else, let the Jews who did not get out while the getting was good be an example to you of the consequences of not getting, and staying, ready.