An echo from my Father

My Father wrote thus to my mother on 11th April 1946 after he’d been send on board a ship of Jewish refugees then recently arrived in Haifa:

Tuesday:  I told your mother {my grandmother} in a letter that I didn’t like this immigrant catching. I wouldn’t dare say this to the rest of the chaps – they’d think I was getting soft, but I can’t help feeling sorry for some of these illegals. After all, they are only looking for a home where they can live in peace and they are a very pitiful sight when they are taken off the ships. Hollow-cheeked women, terrified children and life-weary men are not quite my mark. I don’t mean that they are ill-treated – those stories are just terrorist propaganda – but their disappointment at being made to go to Cyprus is heart rending…. I would prefer chasing terrorist gunmen.

Dad, for those newish to this blog, spent 1945 and 1946 in what was then Palestine (see the tabs above for his Letters from Palestine) as part of the British Protectorate between the end of WW2 and Partition when modern Israel was created under the auspices of the UN. Desperate Jewry, fleeing the Holocaust and the aftermath of the war took whatever boats they could to try and enter Palestine which the British troops were charged with stopping and sending back either to mainland Europe or to Cyprus.

The similarity with the current refugee crisis is stark. The impact awfully similar. The horrors just as real. Yet a short few weeks after the crisis was the headline we are now served up a daily dose of the latest fear: terrorist infiltration, potential repeats of Paris hidden away amongst the real refugees; the need to bomb cities and towns in Syria to ‘make us safer’ and, no doubt increase the flood of refugees; the spread of the Daesh Caliphate to western Afghanistan; the stronger and more rigorous fencing in Bulgaria and Calais. And still the refugees arrive in camps and across borders.

And then, today, I listened with horror to an American Presidential candidate suggesting internment for Muslims, along similar lines to how the German and Italians in the UK and the Japanese in America were interned during WW2.

Have we not learnt? Do we think this works? How much resentment do we want to cause?

Most other candidates have decried the man. Can we not focus on the people at the heart of this crisis? Can we not hold ourselves to a higher standard than a return to the policies of the 1930s and 40s? We tried it then, as my father’s letters testify, and it didn’t work. Why would it work today? Do we think these people are any less desperate than the immigrants flocking to leave Europe post WW2?

I was reminded, when looking out some pictures for a challenge this week, of a trip I took to South Beach, Miami; one of those conferences that I undertook as a lawyer which have blended in my memory with all other conferences, like a Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s ice cream: a meld of flavours that it is almost impossible to discern one from the other. But this one did leave me with one seared memory: its memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.

 

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Don’t let us need to build this again.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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77 Responses to An echo from my Father

  1. jan says:

    Wow, great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. merrildsmith says:

    Timely and profound. Your father sounds like a good man, and you seem to have inherited that.
    I have been so upset by the news and Trump’s horrible speeches. Yes, let us hope we never have to build another monument like that one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There are more of us with sense and decency in the world than the news and the politicians would allow – keep shining the light!.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. jan says:

    Reblogged this on JT Twissel.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. julitownsend says:

    A song written in the 1955, seems even more important today: Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
    When will we ever learn?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. lucciagray says:

    Wonderful post and inspiring letter. Grave issue which has recurred over the centuries. Complex solution… I’m at a loss for words…

    Like

  7. Well said – you and your Dad

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Charli Mills says:

    When I read your Father’s letter, I was struck by the same thought you then wrote: “The similarity with the current refugee crisis is stark.” Obviously we have much to learn or else keep repeating the mistakes of before. Didn’t Shakespeare say something about our past is our prologue?

    As for the poor excuse of an American politician, he merely demonstrates that wealth can buy neither a heart nor a brain. Sometimes I wonder if he’s simply running (and running his mouth) because he’s an egomaniac who can afford to.

    On a more compassionate and reflective note, you should see if Allegiance the musical is going to London. Look it up; it’s a brilliant play by an American I’m proud to claim soil with, George Takei. It’s based on his family’s internment as Japanese-Americans in WWII and I understand it to be brilliant. Thus literature and the arts can have a more positive impact than some idiot with a had comb-over and hate rhetoric that does not represent all Americans.

    Which leaves me with wondering how powerful your Father’s letters could be in some sort of novel, short stories or biography.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I have something in mind one day, about those letters. Yes, re Trump. It isn’t fair to single him out as the only cretin Nd in an ironic way his vocalising inherently atrocious opinions opens a debate that might not be had. There is a lot of fear around, there always is so allowing people who refuse to let the dark part of the brain take flight to exercise their voice, stirred up by this is important. Today’s news reports Trump saying London police fear going into certain sectors for fear of confronting radicalised locals which caused our mayor Boris Johnson to say the only fear he has of going to certain parts of New York is the fear of confronting Trump. Humour as well as well crafted plays help shine a light. I haven’t head of Takei’s play but will look out for it. Thanks Charli.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on Jane Dougherty Writes and commented:
    Nuff said.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. He won’t get anywhere, don’t worry. And for his info, those Police in Leytonstone the other night looked far from scared to me, and they did not have guns.
    My aunt’s about the same age as your dad and the number of times she says ‘But this has happened before’ and proceeds to draw a parallel. We do learn, though, and decency does win through.
    Really great post, better than any Opinion section in the papers! That memorial is stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ps gonna go back and read your dad’s letters again!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. davidprosser says:

    You seem to have followed in your father’s footsteps really well in your beliefs.
    I agree, let’s not need to build another sculpture like that one.
    Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I would really liked to have met your dad, Geoff. I would have been truly enchanted by the stories of his life. So pleased that you are sharing them with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Well said, Geoff! Learning from the past just doesn’t seem to be on the agenda. Not for the politicians anyway. But I get a sense that there’s an increasing awareness amongst the rest of us. Change won’t come about fast enough for too many poor souls, but I do feel it will come.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sue Vincent says:

    Reblogged this on Daily Echo and commented:
    Just this…

    Like

  16. mikesteeden says:

    An overused word yet ‘epic’ I believe is correct for this piece in terms of compassion and information…I am glad Sue Vincent directed me in this direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. zdunno03 says:

    Very nicely written and very, very timely and appropriate. I reblogged this on my blog and Facebook.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This is most profound blog I read in this early morning on my side, reminded me the work we done here (in Germany) on refugees. My husband and I, had an ambulance transport firm and we do catastrophic emergency project for tsunami, earthquake and in war regions as well. Most of the time, we do transportation and ambulance work between the clinics and hospitals.

    The sorrow one has to watched and witnessed during the work is a heart wrenching thing and truthfully saying, I rather have been in the hospital working on patients who need aids and medications. Of course, the refugees need these too, but they are like the walking dead and alive with emotions, and I have to see how the parents and their children outside the camps or under the rain or snow, without no roof above their heads or proper winter clothes to keep them warm … I carried this agony the whole way and bring this home too …

    At home it worsen because I watched how my children live and they have everything. To see how they came running towards me the moment the front door open, locked their arms around my neck and there are warm proper meals laid nicely on the dining table, the fireplace warm up the whole house and there are hot cocoa in my mug … *sigh*

    But then, I am at the ready to go there to the camps to help them however I can, with my whole heart and soul … I wish many people out there (who are against the refugees) could have use their energies and time helping, rather than wasting part of their everyday life spitting out senseless hates and revenge, or racism issues …

    Liked by 1 person

  19. socialbridge says:

    Such a relief to read such sense. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. My hope is that time will prove that we have indeed learned something, and our values and beliefs are not represented by those political attention seekers of the day. We are so much better than that. Thanks for sharing such a timely letter from 1946.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Helen Jones says:

    Powerful post, Geoff and very timely.

    Like

  22. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Something to reflect on from Geoff Le Pard.. perhaps we all need to remember that most of us come from immigrant families at some point in our history.. Certainly on my Irish grandfather’s side his father came across to join the Royal Navy at the height of the famine. It does however takes great leaders to make it work so that it is the right thing for everyone equally. That is usually where the problem lies. Thanks Geoff.

    Like

  23. Léa says:

    I left America more than eight years ago. My mother moved there after WWII with my half-sister in tow. My father’s family had been there a bit longer. Some stayed in America and some went back to Sweden. There are no regrets to leaving behind the divisiveness, hatred, racism, intolerance, violence… My father served in France in WWII, both grandfathers in WWI. My father and paternal grandfather would be devistated to see what this land they fought for is becoming. The maternal grandfather, I’m afraid would fit right in with the other intolerant people despite the fact that he too was an immigrant.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Great post! What is it that Einstein says, “When you do the same thing over and over and expect the outcome to be different…” Good words…

    Liked by 1 person

  25. This was a powerful piece. Thank you. —– Suzanne Joshi

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Reblogged this on Barrow Blogs: and commented:
    A must read post.

    Liked by 1 person

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