Holocaust refugee: We owe it to mankind to allow Syrian refugees into Europe

Leslie Baruch Brent was saved from the horrors of the Holocaust thanks to the Kindertransport, which brought him to Britain; Now he says it's time to react in kind.

September 7, 2015 17:06
2 minute read.
Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees walk along a road in Serbia, August 24, in an increasingly desperate journey to western Europe. (photo credit: MARKO DJURICA / REUTERS)


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With all the questions about how Europe should deal with the Syrian refugee crisis hitting its shores, one Holocaust refugee says that the Syrian refugees should be welcomed in wholeheartedly as he was 77 years ago.

Leslie Baruch Brent, a professor emeritus in immunology, was just a child when his parents sent him to live at a Jewish orphanage in Berlin to escape the unbearable anti-Semitism in the small German town where they lived. After three years at the orphanage and with the situation becoming grim for the Jews of Europe, the director of the orphanage selected Brent, originally named Lothar Baruch, and a few other boys to join the Kindertransport, which sent 10,000 children from around Europe to Britain during World War II.

Now with a desperate situation facing refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria, Brent says Europe has a duty to let in the refugees.
Holocaust refugee: We owe it to mankind to allow Syrian refugees into Britain

"We owe this to mankind to help the unfortunate people who are desperate and whose plight we are to some extent to blame for," he said in reference to the Iraq War, which he claimed lead to the creation of Islamic State.

Brent compared the situation to Britain's treatment of Jewish children during the Second World War, in which Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gave mass visas to children in order for the Kindertransport to be possible. This generosity, he said, was what saved him from joining the fate of his family who stayed in Germany, who he later found out were murdered in the woods of Riga, Latvia by Nazi gunfire in October 1942.

So far, Brent described the British treatment of the refugee situation as "horrendously negative and selfish" and criticized the way Europe as a whole has handled the situation. "Europe has a responsibility to help refugees," he said.

Germany's recent welcoming of Syrian refugees into their country was described by Brent as a shining example of how other countries should handle the situation. The country has an open-door policy regarding refugees. Over the past weekend alone, 20,000 people arrived, with thousands more coming by the day. A number of other countries have followed suit, including France, which announced Monday it would take in 24,000 refugees. Austria has permitted 4,000 refugees to enter its country as well.

An EU plan is hoping to redistribute the 120,000 asylum seekers arriving at the shores of Greece, Italy and Hungary.

Brent noted, however, that each child in the Kindertransport had to pay £50, which was meant to pay for an eventual return trip to their home countries.

In regards to fears that refugees from Syria will add to the problem of Islamic extremism taking hold in Europe, Brent said that it is something that will happen with our without the added refugees.

"Extremists who want to get into Britain or other countries like France or Germany, will get there anyway," he said. "I think 99.9 percent of Syrian refugees are genuine refugees who are trying to escape from the horrendous life in their home countries, whose families have been decimated or left behind."

"They're just desperate people and when you have people like that, you have to help them."

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