Sunday, April 21, 2013


I have talked before about how lucky my family was to move to this country in the Twentieth Century. My grandmother fled Nazi Germany in 1938 with my mother, my grandfather and my great-grandmother in tow in October 1938, a mere couple of weeks before Kristallnacht. My grandfather's brother and sister, both married with children, a son each, we're not so fortunate. My great aunts and uncles perished in Concentration camps.  Their boys escaped on kindertransports, orphaned in France and the U.S.   My grandmother's brother fled to Palestine, then it became Israel, and fought in the Israeli war of independence and eventually moved here with his adolescent sons. 

On my dad's side, most of his family came to Kansas City from Poland in the early 1900s.  My grandmother grew up in Poland.  She and my grandfather married in Palestine and moved to Kansas City to be with the rest of my grandfather's family in 1928. My dad was born in 1929. My grandmother's sister perished in the Warsaw Ghetto, while the others in her family fled to Israel. 

Today, my extended family seems to be well settled in America.  My relatives worked as maids, in factories, in bars and as janitors. Their grandkids, however are all college-educated responsible citizens. If the FBI was to look at my family today, they would have little concern.  

But my family's tale is not so innocent. In the 1930s, my Polish relatives, new in this land, were devastated by the depression. One great-uncle, a Bugsy Siegel-type, began working with the Kansas City mob. From the books I read, he was an enforcer.  He was finally caught in a way reminiscent of Al Capone, for income tax evasion. I don't know if he killed anyone in protecting the gambling casinos or what businesses he went into.  The case went to the United States Supreme Court and is easible found.  His son was incarcerated for many years in Kansas for attempted murder and perhaps rape.  As if this wasn't enough shady behavior, during the 1940s, the family sent weapons to Israel and labelled them farm supplies. 

On my mother's side, she had a cousin who had the misfortune in the 1950s - 1980s to be gay. He was not accepted by society.  In his later years he purchased guns and got sideways with the law. He died in the federal correctional facility in Springfield. 

That's not to say all of my relatives are outlaws. The original refugees and their progeny have borne doctors, lawyers, artists, mathematicians, merchants, nurses, grandparents, and some really great, responsible people. 

If the present immigration debate was occurring right before our relatives escaped from the Nazis, we'd all be dead. Some of my relatives might today be classified as terrorists, in common 2013 parlance, but we got to stay. The issue of deportation never came up. I am very grateful that politicians and citizens in the 1920s and 1930s and beyond had compassion for the plight of my family and others like them. I shudder to think what would have become of my family if it were not for the kindness of Americans whose families came here long before mine. 


  1. are you implying that the mexican people have it as difficult if not worse than the Jews during the Holocaust? you know for an attorney I would say that your not very intelligent and shame on you for making that form of comparison if you are Jewish your Bobeshi should slap your face.
    I dont personally care what the race is and I wont even begin to compare what happened to Florida after the Cuban influx but 11 MILLION people? they are absolutely going to put a drain on the welfare system, the unemployment system and the social security, I have worked well over 40 years contributing to SSN and I will have worked over 50 years by time I begin to collect from a program they tell me is bankrupt but these illegals will on average work maybe 25-30 years in a low wage job contributing minimum amount to the program and upon retiring they will with dual citizenship return to mexico where the cost of living is cheaper and we will forward their checks there. I understand your need to say "oh no, this will happen or that will happen" but along with your story of suffering as greatly as the Jews? we know thats a big bag of BS . after all isn't it true that the greatest liars are cops, defendants mothers and attorneys?

  2. My German-born mother, then 16, and her family made it out of Holland just in time, where they had lived since around 1938. It was 1942. Getting cleared to travel and then getting approved to come to the US was a major undertaking, and I get the sense that she felt she needed to hide and blend in ever since. This included, for years, pretending that English was her first language until she felt safe enough to admit otherwise years later. I think the family had to spend most of its assets on bribes. When arriving in the U.S., they faced a one-two punch of anti-German sentiment on the one hand and anti-Semitic attitude on the other.
    I am not, however, going to get drawn in to who has it worse. My family history has left me with a sense of compassion toward anyone displaced by war,persecution, life-threatening economic crises, and genocide. And yes, I am a lawyer. Deal with it, anonymous.