Mr Magid, was my father unscrupulous?
My father did not “flee certain death” when leaving Hungary in 1938. He did not want to be conscripted into the army of what he considered an anti-Semitic regime and left just before the expiry of his passport, which could not be renewed without approval of the military authorities.
In Italy, from where he intended to continue to Palestine or the US, he met many German Jewish refugees, who understandably were given priority by Jewish organisations arranging visas and transport to those countries.
After several months and many unsuccessful attempts at receiving a visa to anywhere, he was granted a temporary visa as an unpaid agricultural labourer in Denmark.
Mr Magid, do you consider my father ”unscrupulous”, as he might have taken the place of somebody else in the “queue”? In early 1943, before the German occupation forces announced the deportation of Jews from Denmark, my father, again without facing “certain death”, paid a people smuggler in the form of a shunter at the Danish Railways, to show him which train to board to flee to Sweden.
So, to paraphrase Mr Magid’s words, (replacing Australia with Sweden): my father was “wealthy enough to pay criminals and head for Sweden against the wishes of the Swedish public”. Mr Magid, without the benefit of hindsight that my father was able to rescue his family and many others with Swedish papers, so they were not among the 70% of Hungarian Jews murdered in 1944, do you consider that act “unscrupulous”?
If so, what would you have advised my father to do?
[Helena is also a member of the AJDS Executive]