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Abigail Nussbaum @NussbaumAbigail
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Wow. We’re really doing this? OK then.

My grandfather, Herbert Nussbaum (1910-1970) was the son of a prosperous merchant in Dortmund, Germany. In 1937-8 he got into trouble fighting brown-shirts, and his father was advised to get the boy out of Germany.
Herbert and a friend made their way to Holland, presumably because that’s where they could get to. Not sure whether crossing the border was illegal, but working in Holland almost certainly was. But they had little money and no way out of Europe.
They spotted a Jewish name on a factory, and lied their way into the owner’s office by claiming to be his relatives. When they got to see him, they said “we’re Jews and we need work”, and he hired them, again presumably illegally and under false names.
Eventually, my grandfather was able to book passage on a ship to Palestine (not sure why Palestine and not England or the US; again, maybe that’s just what was available). I don’t know if the friend he traveled with came with him, but if he stayed in Holland, odds are he died.
Immigration into Palestine at that point was controlled by the British. They turned my grandfather away and he ended up in Italy. Once again, he worked illegally for a time, then made another try on Palestine. This time, he made it in.
There’s a lot of details in this story I don’t know because my grandfather died years before I was born. My aunt knows some of it, but every time she tells the story there seem to be new wrinkles.
But the important point is: my grandfather lied, cheated, manipulated, and broke multiple laws in his efforts to get out of Europe before WWII. And if he hadn’t done that, he would have died, and I wouldn’t exist.
My grandfather’s parents, meanwhile, tried to obey the law, staying behind in the hopes of getting their property out. They waited too long and were ultimately murdered by the Nazis.
(They did get at least some of the money out, with one of their daughters, who made it to England. For the rest of her life, she lived in a one-room rental, never touched the money, and had barely any contact with her surviving siblings.)
I want to be clear that my grandfather’s story is one of great privilege and tremendous resources, down to the original warning that kept him from being murdered in Germany. My grandmother’s family, who were less well-off and connected, simply all died.
So if you’re trying to pretend that the survival of your relatives in the Holocaust had anything to do with them calmly obeying the law and abiding by immigration rules, I’d like to invite you, on behalf of all my ancestors, the ones who escaped and the ones who died, to fuck off
And if your argument is “well it’s not as bad now as it was then”, you can fuck off twice. People don’t pick up their children and subject them to this kind of hardship and danger when things are going well.
An addendum to this thread, just to point out this utterly bizarre response. In case it wasn't clear, my grandfather was German. At least until the German government stripped the birthright citizenship of all German Jews.
In fact, his father, Moritz Nussbaum, was a decorated WWI veteran. For his service, his government, after taking away his citizenship and property, shipped him off to the "good" concentration camp, Theresienstadt, where he was allowed to die of post-surgical infection.
After Moritz's death, his wife, Jenny Plaut Nussbaum, was transported to Auschwitz and sent to the gas chambers. Of all the deaths of my relatives, it's her lonely end that has haunted me the most.
But the notion that intra-national or intra-ethnic genocides don't happen, or that people fleeing persecution from their own governments and fellow citizens don't count, is simply absurd.
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