I think one of the reasons I was so drained by the story of Gary Oaks and the Double O Farms cowshare is that it reminded me in several ways about the climactic scene in a book I wrote about my aunt’s experiences in France during the Holocaust ("Inge: A Girl’s Journey Through Nazi Europe"). At age 16, Inge was one of five teenagers trying to escape from France to Switzerland in early 1943. She and three others were captured by German border guards.
Now, I want to say right off that I try never to compare Nazi tactics with American government tactics. No matter how bad things might seem in the U.S., we are nowhere even a little close to the brutality that was Nazi government policy. Having said that, I also want to say that there were some eerie comparisons from tactical perspective between what happened to my aunt and what happened to Gary Oaks.
The first thing the German soldiers did was separate and interrogate the captured teenagers. Under threats, three of the teens admitted that they weren’t lost Swiss citizens, but rather Jews trying to escape to Switzerland. But Inge refused during her interrogations to admit her real identity. The German commander offered to stop the abuse and reunite her with her friends if she admitted who she was. She was quite tempted, just to end the terror, yet she continued to resist. The German commander was so intent on winning the intimidation battle that he then threatened to have her shot if she didn’t admit who she was. She continued to refuse. She had decided that it was preferable to be shot then and there rather than go submissively to death a few weeks or months down the road. She survived and, later in life, suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome.
Gary’s experience paralleled Inge’s in several eerie ways. The authorities separated him from his shareholders. They then began interrogating him. When he didn’t say what they wanted, they had others badger him. Finally, they offered him the bait: write out a confession, and we’ll stop the abuse. At this point, Gary was physically ill, so he wrote out some verbiage that wasn’t exactly what they wanted (see the confession with the article). He eventually collapsed from the abuse. Later, he was hospitalized several times with post traumatic stress syndrome.
The parallel was the use of official authority to intimidate. Both Inge and Gary were respectful of official authority. The authorities knew that, and tried to use that to their advantage. Inge stood up and salvaged her dignity. The Circle O Farmers shareholders similarly stood up. That is what the authorities fear most.