Eric Muller’s Sad Serendipity

I’ve been reading UNC Law School’s Eric Muller’s ‘blog IsThatLegal for several years.

He has an incredible knack ferreting out information and reporting on one of the low points for American democracy – World War Two’s mass detention of citizens of Japanese origin (covered in his book Free to Die for Their Country).

He’s also reported on his families Holocaust history, especially his “on-again, off-again quest”

…to learn more about the life and murder of my great-uncle Leopold Muller. Leo was my grandfather’s brother, a German Jew who lost his arm fighting for the Heimat, and who lost his life in some dismal camp in Poland after being deported from the Bavarian town of Bad Kissingen in April 1942.

Vanished with nary a trace it seemed until Eric’s recent serendipitous discovery of a few archived documents:

I am in College Park, Maryland, doing some last-minute research for my forthcoming book on the U.S. government’s WWII loyalty bureaucracy. I had a couple of spare hours yesterday after reviewing the documents I’d come to examine, so I began poking around a little in NARA‘s enormous collection of microfilm. One series title intrigued me: “Documents Concerning Jews in the Berlin Document Center” (.pdf file), which, according to the finding aid, consists of “newspaper clippings, letters, manuscripts, pamphlets, reports and other documents originating with the SA, SS, Gestapo, Reich Ministry of Justice and Reichskulturkammer (RKK, Reich Chamber of Culture) from 1920-1945.”

I grabbed Reel 5 of the fourteen-reel set and popped it onto a microfilm reader.

And, against all odds — my great uncle was, after all, just one of six million Jewish victims, from a small and inconsequential German town — I found information about him. All these years later.

Sad. Gripping. Memorable. Thank you Eric.

I heartily recommend Eric’s ‘blog as an education in not only the legal tragedies of World War II but also his ruminations on today’s Constitutional erosions.

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