Republicans have spent the week telling everyone who will listen that the Syrian refugees should not be allowed to come to America. Their arguments sound eerily familiar to those made about the Jewish refugees who were trying to flee Europe during WWII. Unfortunately, America was not eager to get involved and denied many of their refugee visas — including Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father.
Anne Frank is the little girl who was made famous by the diary she kept while her family was hiding from the Nazis. She was killed in a concentration camp when she was 15, after being captured, but we are now finding out that her death was avoidable.
In documents released last year, it was discovered that Otto Frank tried to flee in the year leading up to the war, but was unable to obtain a visa. The documents include letters and telegrams sent from April to December 1941 that showcased his attempts to escape Germany. According to Reuters, Otto received help from his brother-in-law, Julius Hollander who lived in Boston at the time.
In addition to Hollander, he also asked his friend, Nathan Strauss, who was living in New York, for a $5,000 deposit for a visa. The United States denied his visa, but Strauss’ wife continued calling government agencies for help.
When he realized America was not going to help his family, he applied for a visa to Cuba. The country approved his visa in December 1941, but revoked it ten days after Germany declared war on the U.S.
During the war there were many documented cases of the USA refusing to allow desperate refugees into the country. Even though there were reports of mass murder under Hitler, these people were still not allowed to come here. Richard Breitman, a professor at American University explained that Anne Frank might still be alive today if her father had tried to escape Germany before America cracked down on entry into the country:
Anne Frank could be a 77-year-old woman living in Boston today, a writer. That is what the YIVO’s documents suggest.
Unfortunately, for Anne’s family and countless others, America was not willing to help for whatever reason. Our refusal to protect people like her has left an ugly stain on American history and it is one that we do not want to repeat — well, most of us anyway.
Republicans, on the other hand, just do not give a crap and would happily deny Syrian refugees a safe place to live. Their refusal to help innocent people who are fleeing unspeakable violence is embarrassing. We are supposed to be the country that opens its doors to people exactly like this, we have a huge statue in New York that says as much. Apparently, though, in the minds of the right-wing, we should extinguish that torch and allow these people to die.
How very American.
Featured image via Attn.com