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July 04, 2003 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-07-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Hitler On America

New York City
generally unknown sequel to
Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf
will soon be published in
English, according to a
recent article in the New York Times.
Written in 1928, Hitler's Second
Book as it is known, includes revela-
tions about Hitler's global strategy,
including his determination to wage
war against the United States.
Yet the book also reveals that there
was something about the United
States that Hitler liked — America's
then newly adopted, race-based
restrictions on immigration.
"The American nation appears as a
young, racially select people," Hitler
wrote. "By making an immigrant's
ability to set foot on American soil
dependent on specific racial require-
ments on the one hand as well as a
certain level of physical health of the
individual himself, the bleeding of
Europe of its best people has become
regulated in a manner that is almost
bound by law."
Hider was referring to the National
Origins immigration bills of 1921
and-1924, which virtually shut

A

Rafael Medoff, Ph.D., is director of the

David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust
Studies, which focuses on issues related to
America's response to the Holocaust. His e-
mail address is Rafaelmedoff@aol.com

terrorists hell-bent on killing as
many Israelis as possible, every place
where people frequent is a potential
target.

America's doors to immigrants. The
ideas that led to America's immigra-
tion restrictions in the 1920s actually
derived from the same worldview that
formed the basis of Hitler's ideology.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s,
Americans and Europeans alike came
under the sway of anthropologists and
eugenicists on both continents who
contended that Anglo-Saxons were
biologically superior to other peoples.
This race-dominated view of
human society played a key role in

The U.S. turned a
blind eye in Jewry's
most dire hour
of need.

shaping Americans' attitudes toward
immigration in the years following
World War I. It gained prominence at
the same time that Americans' anxiety
about Communism was growing as a
result of the establishment of the
Soviet Union.
The combination of racism, fear of
Communism and general resentment
of foreigners provided the back-
ground of public support for immi-
gration restriction.

them. Some are spiffy, with well-
ironed shirts and vests sporting logos
and crests. The attire of others is
austere and ruffled.
Many are new immigrants from

Hard Work, High Risk

As a result, the security guard busi-
ness is thriving. The country's 300
security companies that provide
guards can barely keep up with the
demand. If the job is virtually the
same at every location, the guards on
duty vary widely.
Standing at entrances like human
scarecrows, some are armed with
automatic weapons while most pack
pistols in holsters or clipped to their
belts. Many wield hand-held metal
detectors; the odd one also has a can
of mace.
Some guards look neat, others
disheveled. Their uniforms differ
according to the firm that employs

Security guard
companies can
barely keep up
with demand.

Russia or Ethiopia. Some are young,
fit and well trained; many are not.
Despite their differences, security
guards all face the same risk and
poor work conditions. Amid reports
of widespread mistreatment of
guards by their employers, the

Tight Restrictions
the United States Consular
Service, Wilbur Carr.
The law passed in 1921,
That report characterized
known as the Johnson
would-be Jewish immigrants
Immigration Act, stipulated
from Poland as "filthy, un-
that the number of immi-
American, and often danger-
grants from any one country
ous in their habits ... lacking
during a given year could not
any conception of patriotism
exceed 3 percent of the num-
DR. RAFAEL or national spirit."
ber of immigrants from that
No wonder Hitler admired
MEDOFF
country who had been living
the spirit behind the move-
in the United States at the
Special
time of the 1910 national
Commentary ment to restrict immigration
to America.
census.
As the Nazi persecution of
In other words, if there
Jews intensified during the middle
were 10,000 individuals of Irish ori-
and late 1930s, the U.S. quota system
gin living in the United States in
functioned precisely as its creators
1910, the number of immigrants per-
had intended: It kept out all but a
mitted from Ireland in any year
handful of Jews. The annual quota for
would be a maximum of 300.
Germany and Austria, for example,
In 1924, the immigration regula-
was 27,370, and for Poland, just
tions were tightened even further: the
6,542.
percentage was reduced from 3 per-
Even those meager quota allotments
cent to 2 percent, and instead of the
were almost always under-filled, as
1910 census, the quota numbers
zealous consular officials implement-
would be based on an earlier census,
ed the bureaucratic method proposed
the one taken in 1890.
by senior State Department official
The reason for tightening the
Breckinridge Long — in his words, to
restrictions was obvious: It would
postpone and postpone and post-
reduce the number of Jews and Italian
pone the granting of the visas."
Americans, since the bulk of Jewish
and Italian immigrants in the United
States had not arrived until after
1890.
Road Blocks
Indeed, the original version of the
Johnson Act had been submitted to
A deliberately designed bureaucratic
Congress with a report by the chief of maze — a series of "paper walls," to
borrow the title of Prof. David S.
Wyman's 1968 book — ensured most
Jewish refugees would remain far
from America's shores.
Therefore, during the period of the
Nazi genocide, from late 1941 until
early 1945, only 10 percent of the
already miniscule quotas from Axis-
Knesset Interior Committee looked
controlled European countries were
into the matter last month.
actually used. That means almost
Committee Chairman Yuri Stern
190,000 quota places were unused —
said that every day, Israelis entrust
almost 190,000 lives that could have
their safety to security guards who
been saved even under the existing
risk their lives for a pittance. He
decried the shameless exploitation of immigration restrictions.
Thus Jews desperately seeking to
those who, like human shields, are
escape Hitler found no haven in the
often the first and last line of
United States. The nation with the
defense against Palestinian suicide
tradition of welcoming "the tired, the
bombers.
poor, the huddled masses yearning to
Alexander Bukin, a representative
breathe free" chose to turn a blind eye
of the Security Guards Association,
in Jewry's most dire hour of need.
told the committee that most com-
More than two decades would pass
panies pay the guards less than the
before the quota system that Hitler so
minimum wage, impose on them an
admired was finally abandoned. The
excessive work schedule and abuse
passage of the Immigration Act of
their basic rights. He said guards
1965 "lifted the shadow of racism
must put in nearly 300 hours a
from American immigration policy,"
month to earn a living.
as Prof. John Higham put it.
Surely, for their vital role and often
Tragically, it came 25 years too late
live-saving acts of courage, security
for the millions of Jews trapped in
guards deserve a whole lot better.
Hitler's inferno. ❑
Surely, our security is worth it. ❑

"

t

.NN

7/ 4

2003

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