Down the Rabbit Hole Part 2

We, the dutiful immigrants, made our trek to notify the French government of our change of address. Contrary to what people think of us, as a general rule, we immigrants are a law abiding bunch. But that is for a completely different post. Anyways, after our successful visit, I asked my wife to stop at the school in the center of town. It may be one of the most stunning public schools in the world given the view afforded to its children. It sits on a crystal clear glacier lake with mountains in the backdrop and a picturesque, quintessential European town-center behind it.

One of the first times we visited, a plaque on this school caught my eye en route to one of the lovely lakeside playgrounds. It’s haunted me ever since.

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“In memory of Jewish pupils of the school, arrested on 16 November 1943 on their return to class by the Nazi occupiers; they were deported and murdered in Aushwitz. Liliane Urbach: 11 years old; Regine Wodowski 11 years old; Felix Wodoski 6 years old; Marcel Zilberstein 8 years old. April 1995 – 50th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi camps.”

Today I asked my wife to stop by the school for the only purpose of snapping this photo. I think about it often as two of the children share the names of my son and one of his sweet friends. If a sane, empathetic person thinks about this for too long, they will feel ill. The fact that a child’s name (or anyone for that matter, but this is about Liliane, Regine, Felix and Marcel) was put in a registry, with the sole purpose of sequestering and annihilating a religion, is something that I fail to comprehend on a profound level.  Me, the emotional masochist, decided to google the names of these children. This atrocity occurred so recently that there are photos of them.

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Felix and Regine Wodowski

Felix and Regine were born in Paris to Polish parents Slyvia and Scharb Wodowski. All were murdered by Nazis in Auschwitz. Immigrants singled out for their religion, murdered by  people with a racist, anti-semitic, white nationalistic agenda.

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Liliane Urbach, on the left, and her sister Rosa on the right.

Liliane Urbach and her father were murdered during the Holocaust, while Rosa and Perla, their mother, survived.  Could you even imagine? Probably not. Forced to register. Killed for being Jewish. This is the American Nazi’s (aka “alt-right”) dream. The major difference is that the U.S. liberated many of the concentration camps in 1945. Who will liberate US when the U.S. starts putting Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ, Latinos, Blacks, etc. on a list?

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Marcel Zilberstein, age 8.

This handsome young man perished at the hands of Nazis when he was 8 years old. There are 39 people currently living in Haute Savoie (my prefecture) with his family name. May they honor his beautiful memory. Aside from the fact that all of these young children were murdered, they all moved from Paris after German occupation. No doubt their parents hoped to escape the horrors that befell their families.

France was one of the countries in Europe with the highest survival rates of Jews (how sick is it that the fact that 75% of French Jews surviving the Holocaust is considered high? Think of 25% of any population that is close to you – let’s say the people with whom your children attend school – and suddenly they all die). Contrary to how the French are portrayed in regards to WWII, they were extremely brave in sheltering hundreds of thousands of Jews from Nazi occupiers. After Poland and the Netherlands, France is ranked 3rd in the number of people who received The Righteous Among the Nations awards for Gentiles who saved Jews during WWII.

The U.S. is ripe for something similar to happen. There is an emboldened white supremacist/Nazi movement, made possible by the President-elect and his Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon . Trump is fueling hate with whispers and promises of registering Muslim refugees. The U.S. Nazi movement, aka the “alt-right”, are hitting the mainstream with their hipster haircuts, dress and craft coffee/bourbon-loving selves. Some of their views are pragmatic (pro-nuclear deal with Iran, pro-climate change mitigation – to protect the earth for white people, of course), which entice people into their web of hate, promising white people preservation of “their America”. They truly believe that America was promised for white people to conquer and preserve the white race. Honestly, what in the fucking hell are they smoking?

Since the election, I have not been able to stop. And I will not be able to stop. 100% of the time, I hope that my friends and I look back on my social media and blog posts and think “Oh man, remember when you thought the U.S. was going to go all fascist on us? That was a bit nuts” rather than “Dear God, I didn’t donate, I didn’t call my representatives, I didn’t try to bring awareness to people about the rise of fascism and now it is too late…”

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