Retiring Arizona Prison Watch...

This site was originally started in July 2009 as an independent endeavor to monitor conditions in Arizona's criminal justice system, as well as offer some critical analysis of the prison industrial complex from a prison abolitionist/anarchist's perspective. It was begun in the aftermath of the death of Marcia Powell, a 48 year old AZ state prisoner who was left in an outdoor cage in the desert sun for over four hours while on a 10-minute suicide watch. That was at ASPC-Perryville, in Goodyear, AZ, in May 2009.

Marcia, a seriously mentally ill woman with a meth habit sentenced to the minimum mandatory 27 months in prison for prostitution was already deemed by society as disposable. She was therefore easily ignored by numerous prison officers as she pleaded for water and relief from the sun for four hours. She was ultimately found collapsed in her own feces, with second degree burns on her body, her organs failing, and her body exceeding the 108 degrees the thermometer would record. 16 officers and staff were disciplined for her death, but no one was ever prosecuted for her homicide. Her story is here.

Marcia's death and this blog compelled me to work for the next 5 1/2 years to document and challenge the prison industrial complex in AZ, most specifically as manifested in the Arizona Department of Corrections. I corresponded with over 1,000 prisoners in that time, as well as many of their loved ones, offering all what resources I could find for fighting the AZ DOC themselves - most regarding their health or matters of personal safety.

I also began to work with the survivors of prison violence, as I often heard from the loved ones of the dead, and learned their stories. During that time I memorialized the Ghosts of Jan Brewer - state prisoners under her regime who were lost to neglect, suicide or violence - across the city's sidewalks in large chalk murals. Some of that art is here.

In November 2014 I left Phoenix abruptly to care for my family. By early 2015 I was no longer keeping up this blog site, save occasional posts about a young prisoner in solitary confinement in Arpaio's jail, Jessie B.

I'm deeply grateful to the prisoners who educated, confided in, and encouraged me throughout the years I did this work. My life has been made all the more rich and meaningful by their engagement.

I've linked to some posts about advocating for state prisoner health and safety to the right, as well as other resources for families and friends. If you are in need of additional assistance fighting the prison industrial complex in Arizona - or if you care to offer some aid to the cause - please contact the Phoenix Anarchist Black Cross at PO Box 7241 / Tempe, AZ 85281.

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)


ANTICOLONIAL zines, stickers, actions, power

Taala Hooghan Infoshop

Kinlani/Flagstaff Mutual AID


The group for direct action against the prison state!

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO
(accept no substitutions)



PHOENIX: Trans Queer Pueblo


AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hitler and the Germans - and Us.

Speaking of white supremacists and fascists, NPR just came out with this interesting piece on a new museum exhibit in Germany. I hope the parallels between the rise of Hitler and the new American rising stars - and right-wing fascist ideologies - in politics today are as obvious to others as they are to me. That guy came to power through the mechanisms of "democracy," too.

I think the current climate in our country is the kind that calls for revolutionary action under the provisions of the US constitution - that we have a right to overthrow our current government for embracing such evil as we see our leaders perpetrate against vulnerable populations today, using racism, fear and jingoism to rally ignorant American patriots to their side. I would even go so far as to say we have the duty - and should act on it before it's too late.


A new museum exhibit in Berlin focuses on the mass appeal of a failed artist who spent time in a homeless shelter and went on to become one of history's biggest mass murderers.

The exhibit, "Hitler and the Germans: Nation and Crime," is drawing huge crowds at the German Historical Museum.

The show explores how ordinary Germans not only accepted but often also celebrated and idolized the Fuhrer. It also shows how the Nazi's racist ideology seeped deeply into popular culture and everyday life with playing cards with Hitler on them, Nazi board games, Third Reich quilts and swastika party lanterns all on display.

"I think it's really important to show it again and again and again over the next decades," says 38-year-old Markus Hoppe, who came from Hamburg, Germany, to see the exhibit. "There were so many who were involved [in Nazi crimes]. ... The media and people — they were involved."

Historical Propaganda

It is not the first time a German museum has exposed the depth of the Fuhrer cult. But it is a first for the German Historical Museum — the country's national museum.

"Not only one man, not only the SS, not only some perpetrators, but the whole society [took] part to stabilize this regime and make it possible."

The cultural artifacts are striking. There is a large stand-up ad for drummer cigarettes with a smiling brown-shirted Nazi SA member. Hitler is a drummer for big ideas, the saying went, smoke national socialist cigarettes.

There are metal signs that were posted in public parks and at entrances to towns: "No Jews wanted," they exclaim.

The Luftwaffe- and Wehrmacht-themed board games, which suggest family fun playing blitzkrieg around the kitchen table, caught the eye of Hoppe.

"I was really impressed in a negative way by those sick games they played during the war, like war games," he says. "I can't believe this. I haven't known this before."

It wasn't just board games that targeted children. There are hand puppets for kids from the early 1930s with grotesque caricatures of Jews and other groups the Nazis would later murder en masse at death camps and elsewhere.

There are carefully colored toy figures made of plastic, a new material at the time, so kids could play with goose-stepping Wehrmacht soldiers.

And they could create their own Nazi rally with a toy Hitler giving his stiff-armed salute from a podium surrounded by swastikas and Gen. Hermann Goering, the Nazi military and party official who committed suicide after he was sentenced to death for war crimes and crimes against humanity at Nuremberg.

A Broad Regime

Historian Simone Erpel, one of the curators of "Hitler and the Germans," says the exhibit is important to underscore again that the crimes of the Nazis were not committed by only a few.

"Not only one man, not only the SS, not only some perpetrators, but the whole society [took] part to stabilize this regime and make it possible," she says.

Erpel stands before a large needle and patchwork tapestry, which was created by village women from a Protestant Church in central Germany.

The tapestry, which was started in 1933 just after Hitler took power, shows boys and girls in Nazi garb. The church congregation and the army are all marching toward the church, surrounded by the words to the Lord's Prayer. A swastika flies from the church steeple above the cross. The tapestry's meaning is clear: Party, church and state are one.

"The motive is, 'We bring the swastika into the church,'" Erpel says and notes that the congregation was ordinary and adapted quickly and eagerly to the Nazi ideology.

"There was not a political reason to do it," she says. "They do it for themselves."

Erpel also says the show comes at an opportune time given the increasingly shrill tone of anti-immigrant sentiment in Germany.

A Notable Absence

But the idea of a larger circle of guilt has been explored before, and some German critics complain the exhibit fails to break new ground.

Fuhrer Quartet Card Game
Sebastian Ahlers/Courtesy of Deutsches Historisches Museum

A Fuhrer Quartet card game that is on display at the exhibit. The show explores how ordinary Germans not only accepted but also often celebrated and idolized the Fuhrer.

Indeed, a fear of Hitler the man seems to hang over the show. There are no speeches by the Fuhrer played out loud — just a snippet on the audio guide. There is a piece of a table from Hitler's ridiculously oversized Berlin office; you were meant to feel small in front of the Fuhrer.

But after much debate, the curators decided not to include any of Hitler's personal items, like one his many uniforms, out of concern that such things might become objects of veneration by some or that they could be seen as glorifying the genocidal dictator.

"Maybe some of the visitors would interpret it as 'Hitler returns,'" Erpel says.

Other museums in Germany explore the Fuhrer cult as part of their permanent exhibits. They include the Topography of Terror museum in Berlin, the Berghof museum in the Bavarian Alps and the House of the Wannsee Conference, a memorial and museum in the waterfront mansion in suburban Berlin where, in January 1942, Nazi officials met for lunch and mapped out the bureaucratic mechanics of the "final solution" genocide campaign against European Jewry.

One wonders why a deeper exploration of the Fuhrer cult is not part of the Berlin museum's permanent collection.

A Better Understanding

Despite its flaws, many Germans who have visited the exhibit say it is eye-opening and important to have in the capital.

"We didn't learn a lot about the Hitler cult in school in the '70s," says Sabine Hornisher, who came from Stuttgart, Germany. "Of course we saw a lot about concentration camps, about who won and who lost and the political situation. But I think people were still a little bit afraid to talk about the Hitler worship [back then], and this is why I find this important now."

When you see all these pictures here today maybe you cannot fully understand it. But at least you come one step closer, she says.

The exhibit — "Hitler and the Germans" — runs through early February.

No comments: