Ludwig Schwamb

In a village in Germany

Fun family story time! In a small town in Germany there is a street named after one of my relatives, Ludwig Schwamb. Why? He was a terrorist who was part of a plot to assassinate Hitler, and was hung with piano wire in the square when they caught him. His wife was notified after the fact and prohibited from publishing a notice of death or even retrieving the body to bury him.

The thing is, if more people had been willing to take up arms to oppose the Nazis the holocaust would never have happened. And in that alternate history the people who resisted and prevented it would be terrorists and villains in our history books instead of heroes.

I think about that sometimes. What is the turning point where the system is so evil that you have no choice but to embrace murder and mayhem to oppose it and are justified in doing so? How do you know when you get there?

Maybe it’s the point where there really is no more hope for peaceful change, where nonviolent protest and community organizing and electoral politics have all been tried and failed and it is clear that if you don’t act to stop it even greater evils will occur.

In Germany, that was the public embrace of racism and the first mass arrests of dissidents. The next step would have been forcing jews into ghettos and everything that followed. State terrorism. Looking back, the turning points were clear. I imagine they were less clear to most good Germans. I wonder what people in the future will think looking back on America in 2020 with children in cages along our borders, police murdering civilians with impunity, and a president who openly encourages and praises fascists.

I am proud that Ludwig’s story is part of my history, but desperately hope I never have to do what he did. My children need their father and I would not leave them for the world. But if it comes down to it, I would rather end my life like the heroes of Warsaw than in a camp.

Fascism is on the rise in America. Trump is its public face, but it has others. We have a few chances to stop it, but those chances are ticking away.

And – this is important – don’t kid yourself about how many Americans will tacitly support it or grumble on social media but do nothing because it doesn’t affect them personally – yet. There is a statue to Ludwig because of his courage, and because that courage was so rare.

Leftists and vulnerable people in America need to be organized and in the streets demanding change… and we need to be armed. We need to be training. We need to be ready to defend ourselves and each other – if you believe for a moment that police and alphabet agencies will do it I have a bridge for sale.

The cold hard fact is that the fascists are deeply infiltrated into police and military and will always be armed – as black folks in the south learned at the end of Reconstruction.

So what can you do? Do some research. Ask around among your friends to see who owns a gun or has experience – what you find may well surprise you. Lots of left-leaning gun owners keep quiet about it because the constant shrill noise from self righteous liberals towards gun owners is obnoxious. Get a few friends together, get armed, and start practicing. If your town has a Liberal Gun Club, Pink Pistols, Armed Equality, or Coalition of Armed Labor (COAL) chapter going already, join it. If it doesn’t, start one.

And, counterintuitively, the more of us there are that are armed and trained and visible, the less likely it is that we’ll actually ever need the guns. Nazis are cowards. They don’t want to risk a fight they might lose. If we want peace, the only way there is superior firepower.

Most importantly, keep organizing. Get involved and stay involved. Guns are a last resort – not a substitute for the hard work of community organizing. We cannot win a shooting war, but if we are willing to do the work we can insure that one is not necessary.