Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Concentration Camps

My desperation is painful: How can I manage to see a way to stop  or even to protest the horrendous abuse of immigrants at our border, especially the maltreatment of children? The sterile argument over whether the camps where we are starving and torturing children are "concentration camps" is unproductive and useless. OK, these are not death camps -- at least not intentionally. But the parallels with Hitler's Willing Executioners (to borrow a title from a book) are unnerving.

Here are two quotations to ponder. The first is from the Jewish Virtual Library page for the Drancy Transit Camp:
"The camp of Drancy was a transit camp located not far from Paris. Like many other detention centres throughout France, Drancy was created by the Vichy government of Philippe Pétain in 1941 and was under the control of the French police until July 3, 1943when Nazi Germany took day-to-day control as part of the major stepping up at all facilities for the mass exterminations. The camp was opened after a roundup of in Paris Jews in August, 1941, in which over 4,000 Jews were arrested. The French police carried out additional roundups of Jews throughout the war. The conditions of life were extremely difficult, due to neglect of personal, ordinary human needs, adequate food, unsanitary conditions, and over-crowding. ... 
"More than 12,800 (3,031 men, 5,802 women and 4,051 children aged between 2 and 12) were transferred to the Velodrome d’Hiver. The children were kept there for 5 miserable days without any food or medical care and then they were transferred to Drancy, Beaune-la-Rolande or Pithiviers. The children were separated from their parents by the French police immediately after their arrival in Drancy. The parents were transported to Auschwitz and gassed. The children stayed in Drancy, sometimes for weeks, without any proper care or adequate food. Several babies and very young children died in Drancy due to the lack of care and the brutality of the French guards. Finally, they were all transported to Auschwitz and gassed upon their arrival. More than 6,000 Jewish children from all the regions of France were arrested and transported to their deaths between July 17 and September 30, 1942."
An equally disturbing quotation appeared in an article titled "The Life of an Auschwitz Guard." The guard, Oskar Groening, "watched as hundreds of thousands of Jews were sent to their deaths." The author of the article, Laurence Rees, interviewed Groening at some length, trying to understand what enabled him to witness and participate in mass murder, and then to spend a long subsequent life without remorse.
"When pressed for the reason why children were murdered, Groening replies: 'The children are not the enemy at the moment. The enemy is the blood in them. The enemy is their growing up to become a Jew who could be dangerous.'” 
Today in Washington, a lawyer for the Immigration and Naturalization Service named Sarah Fabian, has become an example implying that Americans in our current government are becoming very much like this guard. People like this are so concerned with their commitment to their jobs that they show no moral sense of what is happening. I read about Fabian in a Washington Post article, titled: ‘I accept it’: DOJ lawyer defends herself over viral video about providing migrants with soap, toothbrushes 

According to the article: "Video footage of Fabian arguing in federal court last Tuesday that the federal government was not legally required to provide toothbrushes, soap or adequate sleep to detained migrant children went viral, eliciting outrage."

Her mealy-mouth excuse: “I do not believe that’s the position I was representing, and I get that defending myself by parsing out a technical legal position won’t change most people’s minds,” she wrote. “I wouldn’t be permitted to do so anyway, so I won’t try. I will say that I personally believe that we should do our very best to care for kids while they are in our custody, and I try to always represent that value in my work.”

I could continue searching for these horrific parallels but it's too unbearable. What is to become of us? Will we too need to have monuments to our execrable behavior in 75 years?

On one of our long stays in Paris, we lived very near the monument to the roundup of Jews in Paris in 1942.
Sadly, this sign is often defaced by neo-Nazis and other French thugs. (Image from TripAdviser).

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