Bob Schwartz

Some Are Neighbors

ushmm some were neighbors

American citizens have long had to respond to threats from without and within. From the outside, enemies of the state. From the inside, enemies of the state. Sometimes those enemies were very real; sometimes they were merely props in political and geopolitical theaters of intolerance and hate.

In times of crisis, real or imagined, ordinary citizens can be asked or expected to serve as the eyes, ears and hands of law and order—in both democratic and authoritarian societies. There are fine lines between being a patriotic informant, a spy on your neighbors, and an active accomplice and collaborator.

A current exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is Some Were Neighbors: Collaboration & Complicity in the Holocaust:

Some Were Neighbors: Collaboration & Complicity in the Holocaust addresses one of the central questions about the Holocaust: How was it possible? The central role of Hitler and other Nazi Party leaders is indisputable. However, the dependence of these perpetrators on countless others for the execution of Nazi racial policies is less understood. Within Nazi Germany and across German-dominated Europe, circles of collaboration and complicity rippled throughout governments and societies wherever victims of persecution and mass murder lived.

Some Were Neighbors examines a variety of motives and pressures that influenced individual choices to act. These influences often reflect fear, indifference, antisemitism, career concerns, community standing, peer pressure, or chances for material gain. It also looks at individuals who did not give in to the opportunities and temptations to betray their fellow human beings, reminding us that there is an alternative to complicity in evil acts—even in extraordinary times.

should i take the risk to help

Should i help them


Music: Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space

Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space

If the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) had lived into the late 20th century and completed his cosmic epic Mysterium as pop music, it might have sounded like Spiritualized’s Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space, the title track and the album (1997). (Note: the brilliant and adventurous explorer Scriabin thought that when Mysterium was finished and played, it would bring about the end of the world.)

Spiritualized is descended from a group called Spacemen 3 (Taking Drugs To Make Music to Take Drugs To). Do not be misled either by album titles or by a sense that Spiritualized is either psychedelic music or some sort of New Age/space music. This is something you have never heard before. When you hear it, efforts to fit it into an aesthetic or artistic pigeonhole fail. Something is going on, and if you listen without prejudice (as you always should), you may find it an expansive and transporting experience.