In my novel, “The Grievance Committee–Book One,” the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits lawyers from committing dishonesty, deceit, fraud, and misrepresentation.   Jose P. Quiroz, the accused attorney in the novel, used trickery to get into the pants of his female clients, who filed  grievance complaints against him.

Of course, history owns no shortage of examples of dishonesty, deceit, fraud, and misrepresentation used to fool people.

Please allow me one compelling example.

When I visited the Czech Republic—researching the creation of Catholic women priests as a basis for a character in my novels—I traveled to the fortress town of Terezin built in the 1780’s.  In 1940, Nazi Germany invaded the country in its quest for European domination and its hope to establish its Arianism as the master race.

This Bohemian town, a mere 31 miles northwest of Prague, then became home to the Jewish ghetto known as Thereisenstadt, which, in reality, was a Nazi transit camp holding during its existence as many as 140,000 Jews.   These people were railroaded during the war to their terrible deaths in the ovens and gas chambers at Auschwitz and Treblinka.  Naturally, rumors of these atrocities were denied by Nazi Germany.

Reacting to these rumors, a delegation of the Red Cross on June 23, 1944, at the invitation of the Nazis, visited Terezin and the Thereisenstadt ghetto where an inspection would verify the truth of these rumors.  Although the Nazis informed the Red Cross that a Jewish Council of Elders governed the camp and encouraged Jewish cooperation, the Nazis kept secret that the Jewish Counsel of Elders, at Nazi insistence, selected which inhabitants of the ghetto went on a one-way train trip to Auschwitz and/or Treblinka.  Of course, during the Red Cross visit, the Jewish Counsel of Elders necessarily kept silent that piece of information.

Before the Red Cross inspection, the Nazis ordered the Jewish Counsel of Elders to have Jewish workers clean up the town.  Instead of dungeons, torture chambers, slaughter houses, and smoking ovens, the Red Cross discovered a ghetto town of happy Jews, enjoying life in pleasant working conditions—even playing chess and football.  Amazingly, the ghetto’s stores were well-stocked with food and drink.  Why, Jewish school children leaned in spic-and-span classrooms filled with many books and during recess the kids munched on freshly baked buttered bread!

Reporting to the world, the Red Cross declared rumors of  Nazi atrocities as untrue and, as evidence, showed a documentary produced and filmed by the Nazis throughout the visit by the Red Cross.   Even as the war was ending in 1945, many viewers of the film believed the Nazi dishonesty, deceit, fraud, and misrepresentation of the conditions at Terezin.  Tragically, before the Russian army arrived, at least 35,000 more Jews perished in the ghetto because of starvation and malnutrition.

Without any doubt, we can all be fooled—especially by professional purveyors of dishonesty, deceit, fraud, and misrepresentation.  But, hopefully, we won’t be fooled all of the time.   As the old saying goes, “Fool me once; shame on you.  Fool me twice; shame on me!”

Frank R. Southers

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