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|An Army Of Schindlers|
|Topic Started: May 5 2005, 09:11 AM (229 Views)|
|Dandandat||May 5 2005, 09:11 AM Post #1|
Time to put something here
Last night we had a guest speaker at our monthly "Order sons of Italy" meeting named Walter Wolff a Jew that escaped Nazi Germany at the onset of WWII
and author of the book "Bad Times Good People":
The book is a chronicle of his life and the times in which he lived. Last night he gave us a slide presentation on the content of the book (and so his life). How he was born and raised in Germany until the Jews began to be persecuted. That how at the onset Jews where allowed to leave (told to leave) Germany and how they where turned away form entering countries such as America and other western nations. Which he said was one of the saddest things about the times, that many Jews could have been saved at that time if only these countries carried enough to open their boards to them.
He went on to tell us more about his personal story, about how he and his brother where accepted into an American university, which they used as a way to be set free form a German interment camp (I don’t recall the name of the camp now). The Germans set him and his brother free, but told them they must leave the country immediately. He told us about how he then went to the American consulate, with documentation proving he had been accepted into an American school, but was denied a student visa and entry into the untied states. He attributed this denial to anti-Semitism.
He then told us about how he went running form consulate to consulate looking for a country that would accept him and his family, and how the only one that didn’t turn him away was the Italian consulate. Walter told us how the man running the Italian consulate told him that all Walter needed was an identifying document, any document forged or other wise and then they would be let into Italy. Walter and his family bought a couple of boat passes to show the man, and he made good on his word and let them into the country.
Walter then went on to tell us what it was like to be a Jew in Italy during WWII. About how overwhelmingly the Italian people helped the Jews the best they could with much success. He told us personal stories, like about how one time while living in a small town (the Italians didn’t believe Jewish families should be split up and interred, so they allowed them to live in small towns all across Italy) the Italian police chief, that was tasked with looking over the Jews, came to Walter’s apartment late one night and told Walter that in the morning he had secret orders to arrest all the Jews in the town and deport them to Germany. That he wished Walter well and went on to the next Jewish home with his message. Or how an Italian priest and a government employ got Walter forged working papers so that Walter could get a legitimate job in Italy to feed his family. He last told us about an old woman who gave him room and board (this was when people thought he was a legitimate worker) only to discover that this old woman had a basement in her house in which she was hiding a Jewish family, two American fighter pilots that had been shot down, and an English solder. The old woman was using the money she got form Walter to feed them.
This is what inspired Walter to write his book “Bad times Good people”. He wanted to tell the story about how during the worst time in our history Italy was a country full of good and helpfully people that tried to save as many Jews as they could.
Walter also gave us other less personal information about the times, one of the hand outs he had us read is below.
No link sorry, go to the library.
“Though 7,600 perished, most of the Italian Jews survived the Holocaust. This was primarily, because the Italian authorities obstructed the Nazi program of deportation and genocide, and because of the relative lack of anti-Semitism among Italians” – Inscription at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.
We had gone over the Italian resistance when we went over this portion of history in school. But I didn’t know how wide spread and meaningful it was until last night hearing form Walter Wolff and I thought it was good information to post.
I also thought it was a good lesson for our times, where it is easy to blame all or much of the Islamic religion and community for our current wows. Italy was the right hand country to Germany and yet much of its population fought silently against the atrocities of the time, even today their story isn’t fully know. To me that emphases why we should be slow to criticize and be angry with the Islamic community. That its not a given that they feel the same way their leaders do.
A man who helps Walter (Walter just turned 88 a few days ago, we also celebrated his birthday with him last night) who is of Italian decent. Told us a story about asking his uncle why the Italians went out of their way to help the Jews, even at the risk of their own lives. His Uncle, first criticizing him for thinking like an American for even needing to ask the question, said the reason they helped the Jews was not because they wanted to help Jews, but because they wanted to help fellow Italians and their family who happened to be Jews. That them being Jews had nothing to do with it, that they where just helping their own.
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|Data's Cat's Sister||May 5 2005, 09:18 AM Post #2|
That's a nice story, if you know what I mean. There are so many untold stories of bravery and self sacrifice about World War Two and the holocost.
A couple of years ago there was a documentary on about German children who had been sent to live with British families. Some of them were just babies when came to Britain and so if they were lucky enough to get to go home to Germany they didn't even speak the language and were strangers to their parents. Still it was nice that they had good homes while the war was on.
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|Minuet||May 5 2005, 10:35 AM Post #3|
Fleet Admiral Assistant wRench, Chief Supper Officer
Dandandat what a beautiful post. Thank you.
I came on here today wondering what I could write about Holocaust Rememberance Day which is today. (Probably the reason for your speaker last night)
Italy was in a unique position. They were allied with Germany - but not occupied by it. Another country that was allied with Germany but refused to deport thier Jews was Japan. My mother lived in Japanese occupied China during the war.
When you mentioned the many countries that closed thier doors to Jews I was reminded once again that I am alive today because of the one country that had an open door policy. China.
I am also alive because of a "Righteous Gentile" (the term Jews use to describe those who helped save lives) in Germany. The boat to China was full - but this man sold my Grandmother his tickets because he knew that as a Jewish family they needed the tickets more urgently. My Grandfather was in a camp at the time and was one of those released upon the promise that he would leave immediately.
We should remember what these people did to save lives. We, as North Americans, should also remember what our current countries did not do. They closed thier borders to refugees. One of the most famous incidences was what has become known as the "Voyage of the Damned" the story of the "St. Louis" which was turned away from many ports before returning to Germany.
There is an excellent book written about the anti-semitism in Canada at the time called "None is Too Many" by Irving Abella and Harold Troper. Any Canadians seeing this should look up this book.
It is important to remember so we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. Dante - your drawing the parallel between this and how some people see Muslims is an excellent example. I actually said something similar earlier today on another thread.
Thank you once again for a thought provoking and wonderful post. And my heartfelt thanks to the peoples of Italy, Japan and China for what they did in those dark days.
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