Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Instance of Anti-Semitism

Simon Wiesenthal describes some of his experiences in concentration camps during WWII in his book, The Sunflower. He also relates some of the anti-semitism he endured even before the war in his hometown of Lemberg, Galicia.

When at Technical High School, the radical students had invented “a day without Jews,” “whereby they hoped to reduce the number of Jewish academics, to interfere with their studies and make it impossible for them to take examinations” (24).

These were usually scheduled on examination days when all the students, including the Jews, had to show up in order to continue their education. Several of the non-Jewish students wore ribbons, which read “a day without Jews,” and felt a lot freer to physically express their disgust for Jews.

A literal gauntlet of armed students was often established between the gate and the school’s door.

The school itself was outside of police jurisdiction. Ambulances typically waited along the streets, sure their services would be required. Police also hung around in order to make sure the violence didn’t spread outside of the school.

“Although the Radicals formed a mere twenty per cent of the students, this minority reigned because of the cowardice and laziness of the majority” (24). The same percentages and apathy held true to the faculty as well.

Can you imagine the terror these Jewish students felt? Can you imagine the anguish their parents experienced?

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