Sunday, Nov. 21, 1943
My parents drove East today in relative comfort. They could stop at “motor courts,” buy baby food for me, get dinner, sleep in real beds. Yet this very same day, Jews in Europe were desperately searching for a way out of the Nazi stranglehold. They sold whatever they could in order to buy transit papers or passports. They trusted that day’s version of “coyotes” to lead them through forests and over mountain passes into safer lands. They endured hunger and cold in internment camps. American relatives and volunteers brought over a lucky few – a drop in the bucket compared to the 8 million who were finally exterminated. While the slaughter went on, all well documented then, American voices spoke out against allowing these people refuge. They might be Russian spies! They might be Communists! Bar the doors! Unlike Britain, Americans even refused to take in refugee children. That xenophobia prevailed until 1944 when the genocide was too blatant to deny. Even so, the doors opened just a crack here and elsewhere. Will we repeat that sad history today as Syrians flee their ravaged land and ISIS atrocities?