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Uncovering One Family's Ugly Truth To Avoid Repeating The Past13:00Download

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After spending six years uncovering her grandfather's role in the Holocaust, Julie Lindahl writes of "the plague of the bystander" and offers a warning for the times we live in.
Pictured: Thousands of uniformed Nazis stand in formation in Berlin, Germany, during the May 1st celebrations, in the mid 1930ies. (Photo/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
After spending six years uncovering her grandfather's role in the Holocaust, Julie Lindahl writes of "the plague of the bystander" and offers a warning for the times we live in. Pictured: Thousands of uniformed Nazis stand in formation in Berlin, Germany, during the May 1st celebrations, in the mid 1930ies. (Photo/AP)

A little over six years ago, Julie Lindahl began the research that would unearth the secrets she said had left her family "asphyxiated."

Lindahl had been told that her grandfather was a land manager in Poland during the Third Reich. From family stories, she knew he was good at his job and he was a hard worker. But she also knew that wasn't the full story.

As she found out, her grandfather was the "special fuhrer for landed estates" in East Prussia and Poland under the Third Reich. Though the journey was painful, Lindahl says facing difficult truths about our past is more necessary than ever today. As she writes in a piece for WBUR's Cognoscenti, "History had become the mirror of ourselves. In the shouting of demagogues across Europe and the United States, who used the opportunity of the refugee crisis to justify their underlying racism and thirst for power, I heard my grandfather’s shouting."

Correction: There were a number of individuals in the S.S. appointed by The Ministry of Agriculture under the Reich as Special Führers for Landed Estates, not only Lindahl's grandfather. And her grandparents left Germany in 1960, not immediately after the war.

Guest

Julie Lindahl, author of "The Pendulum: In Search of Truth." Her Cognoscenti piece is, "The Mirror Of Ourselves: Facing History In Order Not To Repeat It." She tweets @JulieLindahl.

This segment aired on September 28, 2016.

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