We, Holocaust survivors, must remember for the sake of future generations. And we do, because we cannot do otherwise.
On April 25, 1944, Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi German SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer (lieutenant colonel), the person assigned by his superior Reinhard Heydrich (SS general) to manage the deportation and extermination of the Jews in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe in World War II, met in Budapest with one Joel Brand, a member of the Jewish Relief and Rescue Committee. It seems that Mr. Brand knew Eichmann from previous meetings in which he had attempted to bribe him to permit Jews to leave Hungary. In this particular encounter, Eichmann offered “to sell” one million Jews to Brand and thus to freedom and continued life.
The proposal was to exchange one new military truck for the freedom of one hundred Jews, these trucks to be delivered to the Nazis by the Americans and British. Eichmann promised that these trucks would be used only on the Eastern front where the Germans were fighting the army of the communist Soviet Union. By Brand accepting the offer, one million Jews would go free in exchange for 10,000 trucks.
The Allies very quickly rejected the deal. If accepted, it would have turned out to be a ruse because before the “business deal” was further discussed, Eichmann had already ordered the deportation of the Hungarian Jews and the first deportees arrived at the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau on May 26, 1944 and were murdered there.
Why do I relate this story? The answer is: the striking similarity between the attempted shameful immorality of the German Nazi proposal of exchanging human lives for trucks and its American counterpart of President Trump’s insistence on Congress’ funding his proposed separation wall between the US and Mexico in exchange for signing a bill of amnesty, thus allowing a way toward American citizenship for the Dreamers – the DACA issue.
To be sure, the so-called dreamers’ lives are not endangered by a “life or death” bargain as were the Jews in Hungary. But what about the 800,000 Dreamers who, after having been brought into our country as little children, dreamed and continue to dream to live in the US legally and safely? These young people are psychologically and emotionally Americans. They have been socialized as Americans and know no country other than the country in which they have been brought up which is the US. They have spent their childhood in the very same way American-born children have spent theirs. The land they came from unknowingly is a land strange to them even to the extent that for many of the DACA Dreamers its language is unknown.
It is shameful that the 535 members of congress, all supposedly intelligent and compassionate men and women, and President Trump who, on Twitter, once called himself a “stable genius,” have not been able to resolve the DACA problem which, if not resolved, will expose the Dreamers to deportation.
If the Statue of Liberty were able to shed tears, the time we live in and this issue would surely cause her to do so. Has our morality so deteriorated that we have forgotten who we are? Are we not all children of documented and undocumented immigrants? Have Emma Lazarus’s words underneath the grand old lady who represents the American spirit of generosity and wisdom, receded into oblivion?
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Will it be the “golden door” or a huge unbreachable wall?
Mr. President, it is well known you do not read. Do make an exception in this case, and do read this poem. Reflect on it and ask yourself whether your presidency reflects the iconic words above.
Then take your pen and sign.
I, a refugee from Communism and first generation American and many others like me, will be grateful to you. It could be a beginning!