My Dad came to this country after WW II, from Germany. He survived a Russian Concentration Camp through the sheer willpower and perseverance of his mother and through a father that bargained a way out on a supply truck, in exchange for cigarettes. He arrived at our golden shores with his Lederhosen at the age of 13, learning how to fight as he learned the English language. As a German, his family was not trusted and they were met with discrimination and hardships. As so many immigrants do, they found a community where other Germans took up residence, and they thrived in the freedoms of the United States. I am the first generation daughter of an immigrant that arrived here from hostile shores.
My Dad never spoke of the war. We know glimpses and snapshots into the hardships. Rape, lost children, the horror of Hitler’s youth, begging for potatoes -and getting them -because the blond haired boy learned to speak Russian. When I was homeschooling my oldest daughter, she called my Dad for the “inside scoop” into WW II. I told her all I knew and didn’t think he would tell anymore. Her burning question to him was, “How did you all stand by and let it happen? How did you, as a nation, allow the Jews to be carted off on cattle trains and not stop it??” His response was chilling, “We didn’t know. We weren’t told. We just weren’t aware.”
On an aside, and stick with me here for a minute, my son got to participate in an opera called “Terezin”, a concentration camp that was set up for propaganda purposes to fool the Red Cross. I bring this up because the Third Reich presented alternate facts to the world, to his country, to the Red Cross, and the world turned the other cheek.I would offer today, that we all knew. We were all aware and we allowed it. We all saw the stars being handed out and the branding of a religious group of people. We allowed it, and one atrocity led to another and then it was easier to believe the propaganda than to face the truth and what we allowed into our existence. People were made into lampshades and we allowed it because we didn’t stop it and rise up and demand human rights. We allowed it then and we are allowing it now as we close our shores to the broken and we allow a ban on one religious group of people. You can call it what you will, but when our president welcomes Christians from hostile countries, but denies Muslims, we are allowing a star to be placed on the lapel of another’s jacket as we watch the first steps in history repeating itself. This is not hysteria, this is discrimination. Will we allow one atrocity to lead to another? Will we allow history to repeat itself? Will we allow our shores to be closed to the tired and poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free? Will we close our borders to women and children from Syria while we enter into agreements with Russia? The world is watching and we must choose what we allow and what we accept as truth.