A Holocaust survivor and U.S. military veteran testified against anti-immigrant bills pending in the Michigan House of Representatives, describing a childhood lived in constant fear and comparing Trump’s mass deportation force to the arrests of Jewish people by the Nazis.
Civil rights advocate, Rene Lichtman, 79, noted his testimony fell on the anniversary of the tragic 1939 voyage of the SS St. Louis. Due to anti-Jewish hostility, the ship—carrying nearly 1,000 Jewish refugees—was turned away from Canada, Cuba, and the U.S. While a handful were able to disembark in Cuba, the rest were forced to return to Europe and an untold number died in the Holocaust.
At times holding up old black and white photos of family members, Lichtman warned legislators—and the rest of us—that he now sees “a lot of parallels” in the Trump era:
“I’m a child survivor of the Holocaust,” Lichtman said. “I was about 2 years old when the war began and I went into hiding. My family members were picked up in the streets of Paris in the very same way that ICE people are deputizing local police and picking [undocumented immigrants] up in the streets.”
He said that the French police, “deputized by the Nazis,” kept lists of Jews in Paris, “including Jewish children, including children on my street, who were picked up and went to the gas chambers while I was fortunate to be in hiding.”
“I see a lot of parallels to what is going on in cities like Ann Arbor and Pontiac, where ICE is coming in and with the help of the local police are picking up immigrants,” Lichtman said.