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At the conclusion of World War II, there were millions of refugees in Europe, including many Holocaust survivors who refused to go home or had no homes to return to. These survivors experienced struggles and successes as they sought to rebuild their lives in the shadow of the Holocaust, often in Displaced Persons (DP) camps. Tens of thousands emigrated to the United States between 1947 and 1953 and many more found their way to Israel.

This program explores the stories of these survivors and the lives they lived in the years immediately after the war. The program features David Nasaw, historian and author of The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War; Esther Safran Foer, author of I Want You To Know We’re Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir, which includes the story of her family’s years in a DP Camp in Germany; and Joseph Berger, longtime New York Times reporter and editor who authored an account of his own family’s experiences titled Displaced Persons: Growing Up American After the Holocaust.

Watch the program below.

 

This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.

Ari Goldstein: i'm Ari Goldstein Senior Public programs producer at the Museum of Jewish heritage living memorial the Holocaust and it's a pleasure to welcome you to today's important discussion on Jewish refugees after the Holocaust.

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Ari Goldstein: Telling stories, is what we do at the museum and so many of the stories that we tell sort of end in 1945 or the way we we tell them ends a nice and 45 and but, but the.

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Esther Safran Foer: Real live.

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Ari Goldstein: stories of.

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Ari Goldstein: All did not end in 1945 many were in Europe for several years, well, they figured out where to go next in their life and they experienced challenges and joys and successes, while the way they are so that's the story that we're here tonight to discuss the experience of.

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Ari Goldstein: refugees and displaced persons, after the Holocaust, we have three excellent guests here tonight to help us understand this topic, a little bit better.

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Ari Goldstein: Have David NASA historian and author of the recently released book, the last million europe's displaced persons from World War Two Cold War it's an excellent read and an overview of the topic, and we really encourage you to order it.

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Ari Goldstein: We also have on the panel Esther safran foer author of want you to know we're still here a post Holocaust memoir.

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Ari Goldstein: Which is another excellent book released last year and includes the story of her family's years in a displaced persons camp in Germany.

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Ari Goldstein: And our moderator this evening is Joseph burger long time New York Times reporter and editor who authored encounter his own families experiences titled displaced persons growing up American after the Holocaust, you can order all three of their books at the links in the zoom chat.

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Ari Goldstein: While we get into the discussion this evening, please feel free to share any questions and comments in the zoom Q amp a box with the chat and we'll leave some time at towards the end for audience q&a.

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Ari Goldstein: Without further ado, a warm welcome Esther David and Joe Joe feel free to kick us off okay.

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Joseph Berger: Thank you for inviting us.

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Joseph Berger: When Americans think of the end of World War Two they tend to recall those euphoric scenes in a crowded time square of soldiers and sailors and civilians embracing and kissing and whooping up in a blizzard of confetti.

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Joseph Berger: Then resuming life as before, but the end of the war in Europe was far grimmer than such select the celebratory scenes more than 10 million people have been displaced from their homes and communities.

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Joseph Berger: Where most were able to return once the fighting stopped and some semblance of authority was toward.

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Joseph Berger: More than a million were unable to go back their families had been murdered their villages in neighborhoods has been destroyed and they themselves were in mourning and emotional distress confused about what the future held for them and who they would spend it with.

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Joseph Berger: Many was unwilling to live under Communist rule in the lands of Soviet Union occupied or effectively controlled.

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Joseph Berger: More than 200,000 of these with Jews many emaciated the sickly would suffer terribly in concentration camps or hidden in bunker's or dugouts by Christian acquaintances or had post posed as Christians.

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Joseph Berger: The victorious allies kept, many of them at first, and the very Nazi camps where they had been enslaved and persecuted.

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Joseph Berger: or in the German military barracks.

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Joseph Berger: The refugees language to these camps for years, five or more, in most cases, waiting for the passage of bills and reluctant Congress that will pry open the national quotas to admit these.

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Joseph Berger: DPS or for Britain to lead them into mandate Palestine it's an often ugly story that David NASA has definitively tone, and I mean definitively.

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Joseph Berger: In the in the last million and that ESTA saffron father and mother of all the writing saffron forest lived as an infant and dp camps and reconstructive reconstructed for a memoir describing her search for the full story of her parents lives.

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Joseph Berger: I to spend four years in dp camps in Germany and can talk about that and about our early years as refugees in the United States, so let me start with Esther.

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Joseph Berger: Esther night with toddlers as as the says, from our point of view, life was good, we will without parents, we were ignorant of what they've been through.

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Joseph Berger: So tells us about so tell tell us about your family situation at the end of the war, what you remember about the dp camps and what you learn about what it must have been like for your parents.

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Esther Safran Foer: And my parents were Holocaust survivors and, of course, with that comes a lot of a lot of.

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Esther Safran Foer: scary stories, a lot of harz that I didn't know about growing up because, like many Holocaust survivors, they were trying to protect me.

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Esther Safran Foer: I and and the interesting thing is, I have this birth certificate and it said I was born in signifying Germany.

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Esther Safran Foer: September the eighth 1946 and that's always been one of the puzzles in my life, one of the many unanswered questions because, in fact.

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Esther Safran Foer: I wasn't born in Germany and I wasn't born in second time and I wasn't born on September the eighth I was and I never understood until I researched this book.

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Esther Safran Foer: The background of what was going on, during this period, why my father created this false would.

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Esther Safran Foer: In fact, we were born, I was born in Poland in 1946 my parents as refugees from the East kept moving West, as did many of the refugees who were who are survivors.

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Esther Safran Foer: They had no family to go back to our homes to go back to nothing and they were trying to figure out what to do with their lives they saw my parents married in lodge Poland, by the way, on log by Omer which we just celebrated also just saw a terrible tragedy.

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Esther Safran Foer: And they stayed in lodge or would depending on where you come from how you say it, they stayed there for a little over a year and I was born there and 46.

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Esther Safran Foer: I have some lovely pictures of my father and I in our apartment an apartment that was fully furnished with lovely furniture pictures on the wall tablecloths that had all been left by another Jewish family that was not coming back to live there, but had no doubt been murdered.

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Esther Safran Foer: And at some point my father started hearing as to lots of the other refugees it's time to get out of Poland, they were.

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Esther Safran Foer: pogroms in Poland, after the war, the murders so like lots of other Jews, we were trying to figure out how to make our way out and, by the way, this was exactly as the Iron Curtain was coming down and, as I was told the story by my mother, we.

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Esther Safran Foer: went from Poland into Germany into the Americans for GP camps, because that we understood was our best way out of Europe.

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Esther Safran Foer: We did it in a cover to truck with apparently a false bottom I was six months old my mother had to put cloth in my mouth, so that I wouldn't cry during the most dangerous parts of the trip.

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Esther Safran Foer: We went our first the first camp, the camp, we spent the most time in isn't second time, as you mentioned these these dp camps were.

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Esther Safran Foer: Put in any any edifice that could hold people, including former concentration camps in our case, it was a former pow camp.

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Esther Safran Foer: So they threw out the Russian P O w's and put the Jewish refugees in the camp was a mess, there were no facilities, we were living an army barracks.

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Esther Safran Foer: But, as you mentioned, when I look at my pictures and they're not really I don't know that their memories their memories triggered by stories or pictures, I was cute little toddler loved by two adoring parents, I was there, you know gateway into the future.

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Joseph Berger: You know it's interesting Esther.

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Joseph Berger: We have similar similar stories my my folks after after spending the war years in Russia.

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Joseph Berger: came back to Poland thinking that that was where they were going to live and they were outside Warsaw.

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Joseph Berger: And you know looking for relatives, which of course they they didn't find.

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Esther Safran Foer: And, of course.

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Joseph Berger: they're outside Warsaw and they heard about the program and kill swear something like 43 or 45.

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Joseph Berger: Right moves were killed as a result of a blood libel aided by the police in Poland, so my father said we're getting out of here and they they sold all their belongings.

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Joseph Berger: got found a way to some kind of smuggling routing.

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Joseph Berger: A truck to to went to Germany, where the allies and set up the PP camps and we ended up in Tanzania outside Berlin, believe it or not, so interesting that you know and also when you talk about force papers we'll talk about that in a few minutes.

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Joseph Berger: Yes, we have similar stories there too, so David, what was the challenge the Allies face at the end of the European war and how well, would you say they handle it at the beginning.

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David Nasaw: At the very beginning, when when the war is over, there are eight to 10 million foreigners in Germany, none of them wanted to be there, they had been brought in, there were millions of pow political prisoners there were.

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David Nasaw: At least a million probably more Ukrainians and polls, who had been literally kidnapped by the Nazis brought into Germany to do the jobs that the soldiers who are on the eastern front at once, done.

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David Nasaw: Without these foreign laborers the Germans called them guests laborers, but they were slave laborers.

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David Nasaw: The German economy would have fallen apart during the war and no one in Germany, with the soldiers would have had anything to eat.

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David Nasaw: There were also.

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David Nasaw: At least a couple hundred thousand.

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David Nasaw: Estonians, Latvians Lithuanians and Ukrainians who would come into Germany at the end of the war, why because they had collaborated many of them.

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David Nasaw: With the Nazis and they were afraid that, once the war was over in the Nazis lost, they would be tried for their crimes and sent into exile it worse, so they're escaped at the end of the war, they came voluntarily into Germany to save their lives, the last group with the Jews, when the.

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David Nasaw: As the war came to an end the Nazis realized that the last thing they wanted was for the world to know the crimes against humanity that they had perpetrated, the last thing they wanted the world to know was about the death camps and the concentration camps.

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David Nasaw: So they rounded up the survivors.

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David Nasaw: And they truck them to train stations and they sent them by train into Germany.

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David Nasaw: The Nazis did this in 1944 1945 not to save Jewish lives but to kill the Jews in a different way, rather than waste them.

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David Nasaw: By killing them in gas chambers, they would bring them to Germany and work them to death for the rake when the war was over 20 to 40,000.

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David Nasaw: Jewish survivors will liberated from their camps from the one book involved in Bergen belsen belson in ohrdruf and they were liberated by the alleys and they will put into a new sort of camp.

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David Nasaw: Displaced persons camp.

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David Nasaw: And the Allies did not recognize such a thing as the Jewish people, so if you are a polished you.

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David Nasaw: You will put into a camp with Polish non Jews, many of whose families had probably taken away your property, if you are Lithuanian Jew and there weren't a lot of them survivors, you were Lithuanian you you ended up with Lithuanians.

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David Nasaw: Some of whom might have been auxiliary policeman who killed your relatives.

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David Nasaw: That was the beginning of the journey of the last million in the beginning in May and June, July, they will maybe 30 40,000 Jews.

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David Nasaw: A year later, there were 250,000 why because chose family and esther's family had been saved.

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David Nasaw: Because they had crossed the borders into the Soviet Union 80 to 90% of the Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust did so.

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David Nasaw: Because they had crossed the borders into the Soviet Union and they had worked at hard Labor.

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David Nasaw: For four years when the war was over, they came back to Poland Stalin provided two trains to bring them back to Poland and they discovered.

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David Nasaw: To their horror that they were not wanted that anti Semitism in Poland, after the war was more virulent more violent more murderous in before the war, the polls had learned the law wrong lesson from the Nazi occupation and what they said.

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David Nasaw: To joe's family.

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David Nasaw: The polls and to Esther his family was you don't belong here anymore, this is not your country, we thought you were dead.

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David Nasaw: And esther's family in joe's family.

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David Nasaw: collected all their belongings.

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David Nasaw: a pawn whatever they had.

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David Nasaw: They took the clothes on their backs, and maybe have ELISE each and with the help of Rica, which was a Jewish organization.

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David Nasaw: And, with the help of the Jewish agency, and because the American soldiers look the other way they began the long journey.

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David Nasaw: The journey that had begun in the Asiatic reaches of the Soviet Union, we began a long journey into Germany, and this is the irony of ironies the tragic irony.

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David Nasaw: That that we don't know about is part of our history is as as Jews as Americans as human beings, that the only safe place on earth, certainly in Europe.

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David Nasaw: With the Jewish survivors was in camps in Germany, the land of the murderers, where they would be guarded in those camps by American soldiers.

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Joseph Berger: Now I first the conditions were pretty awful as you described them in your book and then they cleared up when they when they sent a an emissary a URL Harrison, who was in an official that was Pennsylvania university.

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David Nasaw: yeah.

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David Nasaw: Here is he painting the last.

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Esther Safran Foer: 10 yeah.

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and

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Joseph Berger: And also appeals from the Jewish Military chaplains who played an enormous role as well.

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Joseph Berger: So it's so important.

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Joseph Berger: But that did not make it easy to come over, why was that.

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Joseph Berger: well.

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Joseph Berger: come over to immigrate to America.

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Joseph Berger: yeah thanks David, you would think, given the fact that the survivors could not get into America before the war, they couldn't get into America during the war, you would think that after the war, the Americans would say you know beat their chests so Lastly, whatever to use the Hebrew.

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Joseph Berger: They would say you know we goofed but now you can all come in, is.

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Joseph Berger: That is.

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Joseph Berger: That what happened.

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David Nasaw: No it's not what happened, and this is the hidden history, the hidden history of.

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David Nasaw: The Jewish people, this is the hidden history of American immigration and American government, this is the hidden history of the of the Holocaust, that when the war is over, I am a historian by trade i've also do.

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David Nasaw: I did not know this story I somehow assumed that although Roosevelt in the White House had did nothing to save the 6 million and they hit reasons for not doing that, they said we've got to win the war.

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David Nasaw: I it assume that, when the war was over.

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David Nasaw: The American Congress in the American people would say to the Jewish survivors you've suffered enough.

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David Nasaw: that the American people would well open their hearts their wallets their gates and say come, you know seek refuge year.

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David Nasaw: But no, no, no, no, it didn't happen.

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David Nasaw: And it didn't happen for a variety of reasons, the political system, I think broke down the Congress was led.

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David Nasaw: was dominated by a coalition of southern democrats and midwestern Republicans, and they didn't want the Jews didn't want any displaced persons, they didn't want any Eastern Europeans but they especially did not want the Jews.

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David Nasaw: And why.

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David Nasaw: Well, there are a variety of reasons anti semitism was recorded into a new language and the senators and the Congressman said, you know almost directly.

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David Nasaw: All of these Jews came from Russia, where they came from Poland, Russia and Poland are dominated by the Soviets every Jew, who wants to come here is a subversive.

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David Nasaw: The Congressman.

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David Nasaw: With the help of the press.

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David Nasaw: And the State Department.

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David Nasaw: promulgated the one of the old myths, did you do Bolshevik conspiracy that had been a staple of hitler's ideology.

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David Nasaw: And they said that all Jews, the Bolsheviks and old Bolsheviks the Jews, the Pope it said that after World War one it was absolutely absurd it was ridiculous, but it was said enough times, it was the big lie and the big live one and the Jews were kept out.

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David Nasaw: um Let me read something if I can this is from ED lead gossett of Texas, he says the displaced persons camps, the camps were esther's family was joe's family where.

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David Nasaw: They have filled with bums criminal subversives revolutionists crackpots and human wreckage that can be no doubt, but many of those registered is DPS awaiting passage to America had been schooled in subversive activities and seek entry here to serve foreign ideologies.

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David Nasaw: john ranking of Mississippi says on the floor of the Congress, and no one interrupt him, no one except a couple of Jewish Congressman from New York say this is called him out as a liar john rankin says, I believe you're getting ready to bring into this country.

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David Nasaw: Through the dp camps, a gang of well trained communists and representatives of the common term who will spread out over this country for the purpose of plotting the overthrow of the government.

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David Nasaw: 90% of the members of the Communist Party in this country are members of the racial minority groups 60% of them are immigrants and then he also came up with a figure of 70% of.

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David Nasaw: communists members of the Communist Party and your answer he said spoke Yiddish as their first language.

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David Nasaw: If we can laugh about it today, but this is no laughing matter for the Jews for the quarter million Jews who are stuck or stuck in the displaced persons camps for three to five years after the end of the war.

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Joseph Berger: we'll talk in a minute about how they fix the 1948.

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Joseph Berger: The first displaced persons act to make sure that no nobody has been in Russia getting.

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Joseph Berger: we'll talk about that in a sorry for the for the left, but it's an old family tradition, we laugh at painful incidents.

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Joseph Berger: So your parents were among those excluded.

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Joseph Berger: your mother had been in the Soviet Union.

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Joseph Berger: What was your story tell us a little bit about it.

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Joseph Berger: Including the episode about passion, the shoes so.

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Esther Safran Foer: Oh wow yes that's that's that's sort of a legendary story in our family.

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Esther Safran Foer: My mother was one of a handful of people from her shtetl it was a shuttled about 5000 people, of whom half were Jewish she was one of three daughters her mother was a widow.

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Esther Safran Foer: They see the Germans approaching they hear the noise, people are gathered in the main square they're trying to figure out what to do.

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Esther Safran Foer: What do I do, and of course terrible things that happened to Jews in Poland before, and you know somehow they think they'll survive, but my mother and for other young women, these were sort of late teens early 20s.

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Esther Safran Foer: Five girls sort of gathered in the main square and said we're going to get out of here we'll come back in a few weeks a month, you know when everything's better my mother was also a bit of a rebel.

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Esther Safran Foer: And she she had she'd actually worked with the Russians so she would they would have wanted to keep her out but they didn't succeed.

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Esther Safran Foer: So she she felt that he you know if they were going to look for people to to.

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Esther Safran Foer: To to single out she and some of her friends would be singled out, they would have more trouble than everybody else so she went to her house.

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Esther Safran Foer: She grabbed this was June the Germans are approaching she grabbed her winter coat.

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Esther Safran Foer: And a pair of scissors and one change of clothes crush it probably didn't have too many other changes of clothes and she went to the main square with with her friends and her younger sister pasha ran after her and she said you're so lucky to be leaving tasha was.

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Esther Safran Foer: And she took off her shoes and gave them to my mother.

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Esther Safran Foer: And my mother took off with her friends and almost instantly last one of the shoes, and that is a story that's told over and over again in our family my mother was Eastern European.

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Esther Safran Foer: So superstitious and that was just not a good omen to say one more thing about the camps in addition to what David said.

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Esther Safran Foer: Not only were they dirty and terrible facilities, the American soldiers were not real sympathetic to the Jews.

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Esther Safran Foer: This was a different the soldiers who had won the war, who had maybe seen what happened in the camps had seen.

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Esther Safran Foer: You know rescue Jews out of the out of the concentration camps have gone home and they were replaced by this new group of young enlisted men and the two of them who wrote two young Jewish enlisted guys wrote a book one of them, wrote the book ultimately called surviving the Americans.

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Esther Safran Foer: The Americans who came we're also anti Semitic they looked at these people who had survived everything that anybody could possibly imagine.

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Esther Safran Foer: And they they weren't they weren't sympathetic the Jews were trying to rebuild their lives and they weren't interested in listening to the authorities and the general Patton in his diary wrote that the Jews were a sub human race.

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Joseph Berger: vermin, he sent us the word vermin.

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Esther Safran Foer: yeah, this is a maybe a different quote but they were not well like necessarily by the soldiers, the yet the Jewish soldiers Their stories of when that your soldiers went to Yom Kippur service that they.

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Esther Safran Foer: that some of the refugees were holding and smuggle to food in their coats and were arrested for by some of the other soldiers for smuggling food to the to the Jewish GPS, you know.

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David Nasaw: Oh i'm sorry.

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David Nasaw: No, I was gonna I was going to add to that um Eisenhower.

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David Nasaw: comes out as a as a good man here is a good guy and Eisenhower eventually has to fire patent and I think one of the reasons he fires him was that he just can't stand being around him at.

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David Nasaw: At a moment in in time after Truman had after Earl Harrison comes back the emissary and says to Truman we're treating the Jews.

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David Nasaw: Just the way the Germans did except we're not exterminating them Truman gets in touch with Eisenhower and he says to Eisenhower you got to do something about this Eisenhower visits the camps and he attends Yom Kippur services as a sign of his solidarity.

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David Nasaw: and general Patton accompanies him in general patent rights in his diary quote we entered the synagogue which was packed with the greatest stinking bunch of humanity, I have ever seen.

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David Nasaw: The smell was so terrible that I almost fainted and actually about three hours later, lost my lunch, as a result of remembering it the displaced person something as a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews who are lower than animals.

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Joseph Berger: What are we going to do when we see the George Scott film.

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Joseph Berger: Fish yeah that's somehow didn't make it into the film.

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David Nasaw: didn't know it didn't get into the film.

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Joseph Berger: Now the.

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Joseph Berger: Congress under pressure.

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Joseph Berger: does come up with a built in 1948 to admit the DPS they tell us just briefly.

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Joseph Berger: How it was designed specifically to keep out Jews.

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David Nasaw: Well, it was designed, it was designed.

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David Nasaw: In a very clever fashion, after we had defeated, I mean that the ironies are incredible we had defeated Hitler.

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David Nasaw: We had defeated, a man who stood for racial prejudice racial discrimination for the death of those who are not areas, and yet this country was as the the army was as racist the nation was as anti Semitic as before.

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David Nasaw: In 1948 June of 1948 three years after the end of hostilities in Germany.

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David Nasaw: Congress passes a law, finally, and the law is written in such a way that 200,000 visas will be available, the priority will be given.

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David Nasaw: To those whose country has been taken over a next by another country, in other words the Lothians the Lithuanians nia Estonians, among whom are the largest number of war criminals and collaborators.

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David Nasaw: The law is also written to give 40% of those visas to farmers when Congress knew had data that only 4% of the Jews were.

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David Nasaw: Farmers and maybe two or 3% of the Jews came from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, because the Lothians the Lithuanians need Estonians it very effectively murder, Jews and the killing fields.

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David Nasaw: But to make sure those two provisions kept out Jews, but to make absolutely sure that they were kept out another provision said that no one who was not in the camps, as of December 1945.

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David Nasaw: would be allowed to get a visa 90% of the Jews like your two families came in after December of 1945.

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David Nasaw: Fortunately.

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David Nasaw: Fortunately.

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David Nasaw: There were.

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David Nasaw: forgers available in every one of the camps and those forgers rewrote.

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David Nasaw: The papers for families, I think, like the burgers and likes of flowers.

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Joseph Berger: Definitely my family, I mean you know i'm an undocumented immigrant, I have to admit it right here.

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David Nasaw: Your story about.

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Joseph Berger: My my my parents.

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Joseph Berger: destroyed all evidence of the documents in Russia.

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Joseph Berger: and

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Joseph Berger: Basically, said I was born in Poland.

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Joseph Berger: In a barn you know gave me a bit of a Jesus Christ complex.

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Joseph Berger: They.

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Joseph Berger: They the I discovered this I didn't I thought my my entire youth that I was born in Poland, and I discovered this.

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Joseph Berger: When I was applying to Columbia journalism school I needed some citizenship papers for their for the application and I came across this document that indicated my parents had been married, three years after I was born.

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Joseph Berger: By country confronted them.

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Joseph Berger: You know not wanting to be what this implied.

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Joseph Berger: And they told me don't worry you're legitimate and they finally told me the story of 21 years old, I got the wrong the wrong country.

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Joseph Berger: i'm daniella gerson wrote an op ED piece, the other day in the times of the piece, where she her father Allen Iverson, who is the lawyer who who got the money for the Lockerbie families and who.

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Joseph Berger: anyway.

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Joseph Berger: Because his father tried to get into a particular dp camp weather conditions were good he had to take on a different identity, it became Alan bloom steam.

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Joseph Berger: And I forget his first name, but it will be used in the family username blumstein they came into this country using blumstein and for Alan for the first six years of his life in this country when round is Alan as as a blue as a guy named bloom steam.

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Joseph Berger: And everybody had stories like this, I know I know I know a young woman, I grew up with.

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Joseph Berger: whose mother on a deathbed would not tell her that she was born in Soviet Union because they like coming into this country they thought they would be deported.

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Joseph Berger: Right So these are the kinds of stories that that we were we were, we have to live through because of what our parents were forced to do as a result of that bill but but because because my my my parents did did that they got in in.

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Joseph Berger: early March 1950 so what was what was your What did you discover about your father's experience during the war.

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Esther Safran Foer: So we can say.

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Just to follow.

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Esther Safran Foer: In under this totally anti Semitic.

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Esther Safran Foer: Immigration act, and it was only in writing this book and reading about what was going on in that period that I understood why I have a birth certificate that says, I was born in a different country on a different day.

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Esther Safran Foer: If my parents had said that I was born in Poland in 46 it would have been clear that they weren't in Germany by December of 45.

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Esther Safran Foer: Which is the date that was set by the US Congress in order to keep Jewish refugees like five parents out.

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Esther Safran Foer: My birth certificate was written, as was produced in secondhand Germany has a note or a republic sign on it, I don't know how my father got it, but I had multiple copies.

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Esther Safran Foer: I also found a document which I only began to understand now as i'm learning about what's going on in the camps.

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Esther Safran Foer: In the immigration laws that my father was certified as a first class farmer.

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Esther Safran Foer: I mean it's like an official document certifying him as a farmer, he was not a farmer there when I mean as David just said, maybe 4% of the Jews were farmers, he was certified as one as one of them, so with these two documents, we were able to get into the US, you know.

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Joseph Berger: The funny thing is my father was a farmer.

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Joseph Berger: take advantage of this.

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Esther Safran Foer: It wasn't.

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Esther Safran Foer: When I get up when I was writing this book.

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Esther Safran Foer: I was channeling some friends my husband happens to be a lawyer.

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Esther Safran Foer: And I was telling some friends of ours.

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Esther Safran Foer: You know that I was writing the book, I was actually I was going to give us give remarks of the synagogue on Yom Kippur.

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Esther Safran Foer: And the rabbi's husband, who is a very prominent lawyer knew my story, he said, you cannot say that publicly.

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Esther Safran Foer: You have to understand the implications of saying that you came here with false documents.

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Esther Safran Foer: And ultimately, I talked to a leading immigration lawyer that some of my friends set me up with to understand what my risks were.

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Esther Safran Foer: And it was a very interesting conversation this of course is during the trump administration and this this lawyer in Cleveland who was head of the immigration lawyers association said i'm not going to tell you that you're not without risk is that.

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David Nasaw: The only way that the Jews are able.

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David Nasaw: To overcome the big lie, which is the Judeo Bolshevik conspiracy is to tell little eyes.

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David Nasaw: And even with.

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David Nasaw: This Jewish ingenuity.

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David Nasaw: i'm in the end of the 200 to 250,000.

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David Nasaw: Jewish DPS.

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David Nasaw: Only about 55,000 of them get these special visas.

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David Nasaw: In the end, you're a 400,000 the laws amended 1950 and 400,000 visas are are given 55,000 Jews come the rest of the Jews 150 to 200,000.

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David Nasaw: Go to Israel now large number now with a couple of thousand to Australia couple of thousand to Canada some to Latin American nations but but not large numbers.

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David Nasaw: And, and the reason.

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David Nasaw: They go to Israel it many of them are Zionist.

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David Nasaw: But many more would much many more who had suffered through World War and the camps, the last thing they wanted was to go in 1948 1949 to a country at war.

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David Nasaw: But they had no choice, some of them came into the United States from Israel at a later date, but in the period we're talking about three out of four of those displaced persons went to Israel, because there was no place else for them in the river.

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Joseph Berger: I want to talk a bit about the BP.

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Joseph Berger: And and and they years in those in those dp camps, because you know we have this picture of people spending the refugee spending their time hanging laundry you know you see these.

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Joseph Berger: Film clips on NBC and CNN and all that hanging laundry and and and idling in in over around campfires the Jews.

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Joseph Berger: In Jewish DPS didn't just idle they build synagogues they started school that had some 12,000 students according to one figure I read they gave opera and theater performances.

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Joseph Berger: They had boxing matches and my friend simon's father was a Boxer.

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Joseph Berger: They married and had children and that's not an that that's not to be anticipated necessarily because many people felt that, how can you bring children into a world that catlin's the Holocaust, I mean le rezone.

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Joseph Berger: i'm writing a bio of him.

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Joseph Berger: He he put off getting married For that reason, because he felt he didn't want to bring children into a world.

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Joseph Berger: That that that complements the Holocaust, but you know the DPS.

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Joseph Berger: They were hungry to resume their lives.

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Joseph Berger: They.

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Joseph Berger: They wanted they wanted to get to have children to have families, they have some affection in their lives.

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Joseph Berger: And there's a touching story about a woman named lily Friedman.

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Joseph Berger: who survived Bergen belsen whose husband to be secured a parachute from a German M and.

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Joseph Berger: And she paid a dressmaker to take that parachute and turn it into a wedding dress and that wedding dress was used by 20 other brides.

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Joseph Berger: that's how fervent the DPS we're about getting getting married having perfect in fact you know the photographs my parents have of the dp cabs or four children and I read somewhere that that.

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Joseph Berger: The dp cancer, the most fertile place on earth.

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Esther Safran Foer: Right every.

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Joseph Berger: For a few years.

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Esther Safran Foer: There was it had the highest birth rate of any place in the world.

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David Nasaw: ronnie place in the world right.

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Esther Safran Foer: rebuilding their lives they were looking forward after this incredible tragedy they were looking for rebirth and creating as Joe said, these are pros and these you Shiva is at least MC was and.

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Esther Safran Foer: Schools and can you know camps for kids in some ways, this was a rebirth.

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David Nasaw: Well, it had to be a rebirth I mean you know your your parents and the other displaced persons, they did two things at the same time, which is remarkable, they mourned the dead.

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David Nasaw: They never forgot the dead right but they never let allowed that morning to take over their lives because they knew that they had a tremendous responsibility, they were the.

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David Nasaw: surviving remnant they were the last Jews in Europe and they had to rebuild a Community they had to make sure they hit loot did not win.

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David Nasaw: And how do you do that you do that by keeping your religion alive you do that by keeping us alive you do that by keeping culture alive you do that by keeping your dancers, and your music and your boxing and your chess alive you do that by raising and educating your children.

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David Nasaw: You do that by marrying and having children.

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David Nasaw: You know you you look at the at the camps pictures of the camps and their baby carriages.

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Esther Safran Foer: Every everywhere everywhere.

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everywhere.

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Esther Safran Foer: My my mother.

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Esther Safran Foer: used to tell the story at.

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Esther Safran Foer: She she would regale us with a lot of her stories later in life, she didn't tell stories early on, and it was right after the war 44 she went back to her shtetl.

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Esther Safran Foer: Where her sister passion was gone her mother was gone she saw someone wearing her sister lives to stress.

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Esther Safran Foer: And there was a neighbor of kind neighbor who took her and her friend in and gave them food, I mean these women were hungry.

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Esther Safran Foer: And my mother said to her grandchildren, but I didn't eat and one of our grants us you didn't eat you were hungry right why didn't you eat and she said, and then he looks at a racist because it was pork and she said, if nothing matters there's nothing to save yeah.

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David Nasaw: Jeff wonderful that's wonderful yeah the story that I was honored to tell them in my book.

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David Nasaw: Is.

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David Nasaw: about this remarkable generation.

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David Nasaw: And when you think of the pain and the suffering and and when you think about what was.

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David Nasaw: In the back of their their minds when you think of their memories, and these were not these were young people, these were people that the survivors were in their you know their 30s or 20s to 30s.

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David Nasaw: um you know, one of the things that happened in the camps was this is another stain on the ins in the camps.

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David Nasaw: survivors men would lost their wives wives would lost their husbands married cousins were taken in by distant cousins and became their children right the Americans wrote a regulation, they changed the laws so that adopted children were not allowed into the United States.

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David Nasaw: On dp visas.

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David Nasaw: Because they knew.

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David Nasaw: That only you know not what they called natural born children um I mean this is a you know, this is a shiner, this is a crime.

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David Nasaw: But the the survivors the survivors, the first generation had an enormous responsibility and the second generation your generation um picked up that responsibility some right away, others later, but they knew that it was.

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David Nasaw: The responsibility for keeping.

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David Nasaw: The Jewish people alive was you know was handed down from generation to generation So these are two remarkable generations, the generation of the survivors and survivors children.

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Joseph Berger: Well what's also interesting David is when the survivors come over to America.

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Joseph Berger: Yes, you know and they start out with very little they got some help from from agencies, like the joint and high ass but, but they were on their own mode.

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Joseph Berger: There was no, you know there were no no welfare programs, where we have today here on their own, they have to find jobs they had to find ways to support their families put food on the table and.

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Joseph Berger: They did remarkably well so many of the survivors children, you know have gone on to.

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become.

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Joseph Berger: Doctors and lawyers and writers and and.

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Joseph Berger: Things.

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Joseph Berger: You know I sometimes every once while I was out there'll be a profile of someone in my and i'm.

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Joseph Berger: So amazed that that's a survivor's child, you know, Daniel leap skin is a survivor's kid right wolf blitzer is a survivors kid Max frankel is the survivors kid.

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Joseph Berger: You know.

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Joseph Berger: They did amazingly well, thank Willie Helmer, William helm rice, who died of covert unfortunately last year, and he was a friend.

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Joseph Berger: wrote a book about where he actually surveyed the survivors and their children and found out that the survivors themselves did, as well as other Jewish Americans they entered the middle class and and and and and have better rates of you know, in terms of all kinds of.

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Joseph Berger: associates sociopathy and then then.

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Joseph Berger: Then Americans and so called Americans.

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Joseph Berger: And so, so that.

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Joseph Berger: it's it's a really it's a it's a story of of human resilience that is very, very impressive.

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David Nasaw: I in my book with the story of its Lola lockman who met when they were 15 and 16 years old in Poland outside force or summer resort the Jews visited and then met again in downtown.

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David Nasaw: And then at felder thing and I met them in old age home in little neck, and he was 9798 she was a year younger and, at the end of this interview she can't talk about anything that happened to her children because she lost her twin sister in law, how.

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David Nasaw: it's lost his whole family, but he talks about what happened, and they were allowed to come to the United States, they snuck in and cousins found them a place to live in a job for him.

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David Nasaw: And he looked at me at the end of this interview after having been in all sorts of camps and survive because he was locksmith and the Germans wanted his skills and he looked at me and he said.

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David Nasaw: it's a good life.

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David Nasaw: it's a good life, he said i've been married for 17 years I have wonderful children and grandchildren.

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David Nasaw: He said it's a good life.

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David Nasaw: I must melt there before him and he had to tear in his eye.

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David Nasaw: But he meant what he said.

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David Nasaw: I mean what a couple people he saw.

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Joseph Berger: well.

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Joseph Berger: David Thank you it's a lovely story, and I think we would want to have some of the people in the audience ask some questions as well.

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Joseph Berger: Our review, you want to take over.

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Ari Goldstein: or hi it's been so fascinated in moving to listen to you guys i'm gonna there's a lot of questions so i'll try to sort of group them and the first question, I want to ask is.

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Ari Goldstein: For any of you have the David, you may know, the most someone is pointed out that you were talking about all these specific regulations regarding immigration and resources available, how did survivors find out about.

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Ari Goldstein: That was available to them, whether newspapers that was distributing this information, whether leaflets that the Allies dropped in the db camps.

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David Nasaw: yeah the dp camps with phil were filled with newspapers in.

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David Nasaw: In English, German, French Yiddish Russian Polish and the highest and the joint distribution committee came into the camps, they came a little bit late, because the Americans wouldn't let her man.

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David Nasaw: They came into the camps and they took care of spreading this information i'll tell you the story of its it, how did it sick find his cousin a Jewish chaplain.

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David Nasaw: At feldman came up to it, sick and said, do you have any relatives in you know anywhere and he said yeah I have, I think I have some cousins in in brooklyn.

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David Nasaw: So the chaplain said what are their names and the chaplain wrote an open letter and he sent it to all the English newspapers in New York.

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David Nasaw: Including the forward and the relatives in the diaspora of Jews looking for them to see who was alive read these columns and they got in touch with the chaplain who got in touch with its thing, and when he came to the United States eventually took care of.

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Joseph Berger: By the way, there were 17 newspapers published in the dp camps, according to my friend, Sam Norwich could, could you can you imagine those skeletons that came out of the other, the.

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Joseph Berger: Other outfits and bottom Vol publishing and editing and writing newspapers 70 of them amazing feat.

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Ari Goldstein: i'll Joe again take followed in their footsteps as well that it's amazing and Barbara and some other audience Members have asked a question.

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Ari Goldstein: asked questions about their own families stories i'm trying to understand who was where and how they how people found each other i'm wondering Esther and Joe you both wrote books about your family's experiences, what do you what research tips, do you have for our audience.

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Esther Safran Foer: You know I for me the the first tip was to get as much as you can first chance if there's somebody who still is alive about the story.

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Esther Safran Foer: I would ask questions everywhere, I went I would find people's not necessarily intentionally it's kind of came together, it was kind of serendipity.

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Esther Safran Foer: buddy when I was in Israel, I would meet with survivors from the shuttles that my parents came from in Brazil, I met my father's partners and lodge.

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Esther Safran Foer: So it's it's tough, I mean Certainly, there are a lot of databases and there's somewhat helpful, but the best information I got was from talking to people.

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Esther Safran Foer: and getting their stories I learned a really important tip I was learning, I was looking for information about my father and I was using his first and last name his he had his first name but his last name.

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Esther Safran Foer: In the shuttles everybody had a nickname and it was once I learned what his nickname was me started using that that I was able to find people who knew him and.

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Esther Safran Foer: So how people are named is is a real key the databases are wonderful and there's more and more information coming on on.

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Joseph Berger: One St Joseph just said.

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Joseph Berger: When you go when you go to a place like Poland.

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Joseph Berger: One of my sister my sister Evelyn and I took one of these trips back to our parents hometowns and one of the nicest things we've learned in Poland is that there there's a whole.

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Joseph Berger: infrastructure of people who are there to and they're not Jewish but they're there to help Jews find the relatives.

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Joseph Berger: And then, some of them are remarkable we had we had guides took us around and they did some of the research, for us, you know they found the telephone book that indicated that my father had relatives who owned a tavern in.

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Joseph Berger: In in Virginia, which is now in Ukraine and another another burger relative had a had a lumber mill of some sort who knew, you know my father rarely spoke about his hometown for for his own reasons and understandable reasons.

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Joseph Berger: So.

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Joseph Berger: Those are those are real good resources well.

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Joseph Berger: And, as I think as to said, you know talk to as many people as you can you'll find that all kinds of things.

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David Nasaw: Right, and I would i'd offer um my email my personal email.

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David Nasaw: Which is, can you are you going to make that available or i'll give it to everybody now anyway, if you have any questions, every time i've done an event like this someone will get in touch with me um can does this photograph show up in.

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David Nasaw: Your.

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Ari Goldstein: family.

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David Nasaw: Yes, we can see you really can't see it but.

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David Nasaw: But everywhere i'm gone every time i've spoken people will get in touch with me and asked me about felder figure lansbury this or that it's.

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David Nasaw: The NASA D N, a s a w at gc dot see you and why.edu the NASA at gc for graduate Center that see you ny.edu and i'd be happy to to help out the how has museum.

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David Nasaw: In Washington has extraordinary stuff yivo has extraordinary material.

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David Nasaw: There it is possible to do this work it's not easy but it's possible to do it.

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Esther Safran Foer: Another trip trip data Joe talked about going back to the shuttles or the other cities.

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Esther Safran Foer: it's very important to get the right guide, if you will, somebody who is believes in what you're doing not somebody who's just going to take you there and show you around the main square the person that I had hired.

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Esther Safran Foer: In the media business you'd call her fixer she went ahead to meet people to find the oldest people in town, we could talk to, so that when we came it wasn't just going into town, the wandering around so it's it's really important to do some research in advance of the TRIPS.

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Ari Goldstein: Thank you all, let me we just had two minutes, so let me close sort of a two part question the first is for David and the other part of.

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Ari Goldstein: It would be great for each of you answer, part one is did the US Government ever issue a formal apology for its treatment of Jewish refugees during this time.

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Ari Goldstein: And then, part two, for each of you is what the question from Lorraine is, do you think the Americans learn their lessons from from.

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Ari Goldstein: How we treated refugees after the war, I might reframe that and say what do each of you see as the lessons of this story that you want to leave with the audience.

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David Nasaw: um no there was no apology i'm Anthony blinken the new Secretary of State, has made an apology of sorts for the state department's anti Semitism which is you know egregious.

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David Nasaw: But no formal apology has has ever been given, I would hope the legacy would be that the American people have to hold their Congress responsible.

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David Nasaw: have to hold their elected officials responsible for doing the right thing when it's clear what the right thing is and for not formulating immigration policy on big lives.

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David Nasaw: Which is what happened to keep the Jews out after World War Two.

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Joseph Berger: When I when I see when I saw the.

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Joseph Berger: Mexican families being separated at the border, I mean that reminded me of the kinds of things that that I, I felt that the Jews have been put through um you know I don't know how to solve the immigration dilemma, and it is a, it is a it is.

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Joseph Berger: A puzzle that's really hard to to to answer, but that is not a solution.

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Joseph Berger: And and.

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Joseph Berger: it's you know what happened or after the war teaches us.

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Joseph Berger: can help us reflect on how we can approach these these issues with a little more humanity.

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Esther Safran Foer: So I would say that I unfortunately i'm not sure we've learned very much.

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Esther Safran Foer: What we see going on in the world and genocide it's with immigration issues, but I hope that these stories.

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Esther Safran Foer: will bring some humanity to some of the people who are listening, who will try to act.

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Esther Safran Foer: And, and like Joe when I see these children at the border.

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Esther Safran Foer: I see myself except I was lucky my father figured out how to forge documents.

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Esther Safran Foer: But.

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Esther Safran Foer: yeah sure Joe and I see ourselves in those children and feel so lucky that we made it and our hearts go out to the to all of those children and those refugees.

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Ari Goldstein: Well, what an important and beautiful note to end on a huge Thank you to each of Esther.

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Ari Goldstein: Even in job, both for your time this evening, and also for all that you each contributed to public discourse on this topic, you educated so many.

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Ari Goldstein: And to our audience there is so much more to learn, will continue to host programs about this topic, and we hope you will order our panelists books to put links to in the chat for a deeper dive into this.

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Ari Goldstein: Everything that we do with museum is made possible through donor support so those of you in the audience, who have supported us, you have our deepest thanks and.

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Ari Goldstein: Everyone who hasn't we hope you'll consider making a donation to support the museum if you're able.

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Ari Goldstein: We do host a lot of programs and i'll just mention now to that are sort of related to the discussion tonight and there's a terrific artist named Jacqueline caught wall in Chicago.

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Ari Goldstein: her parents were survivors and DPS who came to Canada and 49 and she has this series called growing up Jewish art and storytelling about.

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Ari Goldstein: her experience growing up with that story in her household and how it shaped her, so we have this is an artist talk next Tuesday may 11 I think it'll be really interesting and we hope you'll join us.

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Ari Goldstein: And then we also have a conversation about a month from now with Menachem rosen staff to was.

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Ari Goldstein: De kamp and it's been a real leader of the of the two G community about his his perspective on on the second generation, so we hope to join us for that as well, and everything else that we have going on but.

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Ari Goldstein: That aside, we're grateful for you guys tuning in tonight and so David and Joe big things for sharing your time expertise.

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or pleasure.

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Ari Goldstein: Have a good evening everyone.

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