Holocaust survivor says trauma of parental separation lasts forever
Rosalyn Haber remembers it vividly: Uniformed men lining up women and children and then yanking her mother away from her.
Haber was 13 at the time, a prisoner at the Auschwitz death camp.
“I want to go with my mother! I want to go with my mother!” she remembered crying.
But she knew she’d never see her mother again. The woman had been taken, along with hundreds of others that day, to the gas chambers.
Haber is 87, now but those memories came flooding back for the Holocaust survivor this week.
She agrees that what happened at concentration camps in Nazi Germany is not exactly the same as the Trump administration policy of separating children from parents caught trying to cross the southern border.
But, the trauma of being separated from your family, she says, “never really leaves you.”
“Those memories never fade you know. And they will be left with scars forever and ever.”
Haber’s family was taken in 1944 from modern day Ukraine, then Czechoslovakia, and shipped to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, occupied by Nazi Germany.
The Nazis killed her father immediately and separated her from her six brothers.
She got to spend just two weeks with her mother before Dr. Josef Mengele — the infamous SS doctor who later became known the “Angel of Death” — split them up.
Haber remembers what Mengele said when she pleaded to go with her mother: “Your time will come.”
“That picture, that happening never left my eyes, my mother being taken away from me,” Haber said.
Haber is not the only one who has drawn a comparison between the Trump administration’s child detention facilities and the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.
Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden tweeted a picture of Birkenau, a concentration camp, on Saturday with the caption, “Other governments have separated mothers and children.”
“I was trying to point out we need be careful not to move in that direction,” Hayden told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein made a similar comparison on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes,” saying, “This is the United States of America. It isn’t Nazi Germany, and there’s a difference. And we don’t take children from their parents until now and I think it’s such a sad day.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has dismissed such analogies.
Haber and her six brothers all survived the Holocaust. But the trauma lingers.
“Whenever there is anything in the news about parents, mothers and children like it is now, it just absolutely tears me apart,” she said.
She hopes officials will put a stop to the “zero tolerance” policy, and feels for those who have already been separated from their parents.
“My heart bleeds for these children,” she said. “How will they get over it? I’m 87 now and I still cry.”