Who Cries for Alice?


Who is Alice Herz, and why have we forgotten Her?

Alice Herz, was an 82 year old survivor of Nazi terror, and devout pacifist, who immolated (Burned) herself on a Detroit street corner on March 16, 1965 protesting the vietnam war, and died ten days later..

When She was asked by rescue workers why, she answered ““I did it to protest the arms race all over the world. I wanted to burn myself like the monks in Vietnam did.”

While I think that Alice was a very brave and very commited woman, I can’t see her protest working today, not saying it was that effective then either, but people noticed, at least in 1965.

My question is why is there so little said about Alice, and why have we forgotten her? Why do we remember the monks and forget Alice?

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4 thoughts on “Who Cries for Alice?

  1. Jack, I’m not sure there are any “good” answers.

    On this same track, have you read what David Halberstam wrote about Thích Quảng Ðức the first Vietnamese Buddhist monk to burn himself?

    Every once in a while a reporter will find the perfect words when there seemingly aren’t any that would do justice while describing something horrific.

    He wrote;

    I was to see that sight again, but once was enough. Flames were coming from a human being; his body was slowly withering and shriveling up, his head blackening and charring. In the air was the smell of burning human flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly. Behind me I could hear the sobbing of the Vietnamese who were now gathering. I was too shocked to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to even think…. As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him.

  2. As someone born and raised in Detroit, I can tell you she is not even much remembered there.

    Truth is, most Americans quickly get collective amnesia over unpleasant events. This is why we so often fail to learn from past mistakes.

  3. I am ashamed to say that I have never even heard of the woman (may she rest in peace).

    How very chilling. Thank you for teaching me something today.

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