ohen Contributing Writer
"Oh, my God! That's where I was.
was there! It was inhumane."
Don Cassa of Southfield was motioning toward the
multiple movie screens in the darkened passage at the
Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills that
were displaying gruesome footage of dead bodies and
the emaciated survivors liberated by the Allies at the
end of World War II.
"They were only skin and bones; I don't know how
they made it. If Americans still don't believe what
happened, they should come out here and see it," he
said to his daughter, Donna, and those within earshot.
It was his first visit to the museum.
Born Abraham Cassa in Telkaif, Iraq, the starting
point for many of Metro Detroit's Chaldean
community, he is now 87%. He is happy to talk about
his Jewish friends and help explain what he saw in
Europe as one of those liberators.
When Cassa was young, his father, Peter, left Iraq
for the United States. The plan was to bring the family
over once he settled in Detroit, but it didn't work out
that way. When he and his mother, Zarifa, arrived
by ship at Ellis Island in New York Harbor in January
1937, he was diagnosed with an eye disease and
refused entry. Then nearly 14, he was held for more
than a year in the infirmary while his mom went to
Don Cassa, in the death camp area
of the Holocaust Memorial Center,