My paternal grandfather Mordecai Goldkind (Morris) was a Polish Jewish immigrant from outside Lodz. He came to the US via Ellis Island fleeing the Czar’s Cossacks first working on the New Jersey shipyards and then opening a successful shoe-maker’s shop in ’30s Brooklyn.
My father grew up listening to Hitler’s speeches on the radio as every other Jew living in America at the time did. When he turned 17, he enlisted.
There was no choice in the matter.
My grandmother’s heart broke packing her son away to boot camp but even she knew that there was no choice. The Nazis were coming after us and we had to stop them or die trying.
The war crippled my father.
I know now that he had to kill other men, German men at close hand.
I knew that speaking fluent German he loved the German people and their culture. I know that killing another man killed part of himself.
He told me that he survived by giving up the idea that he would.
The story of what happened after his return includes the story of his son, my life. My father was broken by that war fighting the fascists in Europe so that we would not have to fight them here in America.
There was no choice.
When I was a boy and my grandparents came to visit or we visited them, my grandfather Mordechai would talk about Israel but he and my father would sometimes talk about the Nazis. I remember my grandfather pointing his finger at me in the middle of my silent witness of their conversation:
“Igor, don’t you ever fool yourself into thinking that we beat the Nazis and they all went away. They never go away. They wait for the right time and then they just change their uniforms.”
Was I 6, 7?
I don’t know.
All I recall was the deep bootprint of my father and his father warning me down the generational ladder to be vigilante. To watch for the signs. That the Nazis do not go away. That oppression, power, cruelty and inhumanity does not evaporate. That they linger waiting patiently for the right time to put their new uniforms on.
Now is that time.
I can see the MAGA uniforms.
I can see the detention camps, the forced hysterectomies, the torture by negligence of thousands of children.
I can see the exploitation of a pandemic for deliberate eugenic population control under the mask of ‘herd immunity’.
I can see dissidents and protestors being criminalized and imprisoned for 10 years for defacing a statue.
I see our civil rights being teargassed into the ground.
I can see the violent racism on the streets, the white power fanatic infiltrating lawful protests to vandalize, destroy and cast blame on the citizen protestors.
I can see the police getting more and more aggressive, shooting more and more unarmed citizens, jailing more and more dissidents like in Russia or China.
I can see America’s future as a giant, fat man’s golf shoe stomping on the face of freedom and justice forever.
Can’t you do something?
Vote Biden/Harris 2020
There’s really no choice.