Thursday, September 21, 2006

never forget: another survivor story

miami memorial
in the news this week we have been hearing about sen. george allen, (r-va). at a press conference this past weekend, peggy fox, a reporter for wusa tv, confronted sen. allen with a jewish heritage ARE YOU A JEW HEIR ALLEN...?. i had some very ambivilant feelings towards the senators response, until the story further unfolded. today this story came out. from the washington post:

RICHMOND, Sept. 20 -- Henrietta "Etty" Allen said Wednesday that she concealed her upbringing as a Jew in North Africa from her children, including Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), until a conversation across the dining room table in late August.

She said Allen asked her directly about his Jewish heritage when he was in Los Angeles for a fundraiser. "We sat across the table and he said, 'Mom, there's a rumor that Pop-pop and Mom-mom were Jewish and so were you,' " she recalled.... Allen's mother, who is 83, said she told her son the truth: That she had been raised as a Jew in Tunisia before moving to the United States. She said that she and the senator's father, famed former Redskins coach George Allen, had wanted to protect their children from living with the fear that she had experienced during World War II. Her father, Felix Lumbroso, was imprisoned by the Nazis during the German occupation of Tunis.

"What they put my father through. I always was fearful," Etty Allen said in a telephone interview. "I didn't want my children to have to go through that fear all the time. When I told Georgie, I said, 'Now you don't love me anymore.' He said, 'Mom, I respect you more than ever.' "..."I said, well, I just didn't want anyone to know," she explained. "I had said, 'Please don't tell your brothers and sister and your wife.' The fact this is such an issue justifies my actions, and my behavior."
...And for the past three days, he has been forced to deal publicly with a very private matter.

Allen's Jewish heritage has been a subject of low-level political speculation for years, in part because the former governor and first-term senator often refers to his grandfather's incarceration by the Nazis in political speeches. But Allen has always said Lumbroso was a member of the Free French resistance movement and insisted that he and his mother were raised as Christians.

...Allen's mother said she first began concealing her Jewish roots after meeting her future husband, afraid that she would not be accepted by his parents and fearful that her religion could harm his budding coaching career, which started at Whittier College, a school in Southern California founded by Quakers.
"He didn't want me to tell his mother," she said of the elder George Allen. "At that time, that was a no-no, to marry outside the church." Allen died in 1990.

Leo Mugmon, 92, a longtime friend of Allen's mother who knew her as a Jew in Tunis, recalled her decision to hide her faith when she came to the United States.
"She did not say anything to her mother-in-law or her family," Mugmon said. He added that Etty Allen's father, Felix Lumbroso, traveled from Tunis for the Allen wedding. "Mr. Felix didn't say anything about it. In silence, he sort of condoned it."....

as the granddaughter of survivors, i was raised with this history as a part of my psyche, and it is a difficult history to carry. i cannot for the life of me imagine what it must be like to realize at fifty years old that people you love were treated such as survivors, whether in europe or north africa, and even worse, having to digest this in front of the entire nation and have it be used for political fodder. jeff hess and i discussed the choices allen's mother made over coffee and i realized i was judging, based on my personal history and i had to remind myself that we all handle trauma differently. i realize, all the judgement on how the senator handles this news, which also must be a traumatic experience, well, it isnt just.....

a Song of the day: this train revised- indigo girls


Anonymous said...

I don't think I like that monument. I'm not sure how it makes me feel. Interesting story, however. I hadn't heard this before. (R)

molly said...

its a shocking monument, i will sgreee with that, and i am surprised by the feelings it invokes... i see it as through their suffering they are trying to reach the highest peaks...i mean i dont know

but this story gets more and more complicated, it involves a demosratic opponent that used ti be a republican and used anti-semitism to defeat the other democrat in the primary (this was webb vs. miller if you are interested in more history), and anti-semitism, post traumatic stress, finding out you are not who you thought you were

and all of this for the public to see and somehow, i feel like the shock and misery of the monument speaks to all of this...

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