HomeBarometer Quotations


“I am not here today because I like the Africans and not because I have any connection to them, but because I know the feeling of being hungry and homeless.”

Shimon S., a Holocaust survivor, in a demonstration for the better treatment of refugees in Tel Aviv, Israel. July 2012

Source in Hebrew

“We, the Jewish people, who suffered from persecution and from the world’s disregard to our fate, arrived to our land as refugees. We must not ignore the suffering and distress of other people.”

Rabbi Lau in a letter to the Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert, May 2007

Source in Hebrew

“I think the greatest tragedy of the Holocaust wasn’t just the loss of six million Jewish lives, lives of my own sisters, father and many other family members. It was that the lessons of the Holocaust weren’t learned. That there have been many genocides since then. I think that’s the real tragedy. The world said ‘never again,’ but instead of that, again and again, we see these atrocities against innocent people. That’s really the sad part.”

Dr. Alfred Munzer, Holocaust survivor, March 2017

Source in English

"I remember running from one place to the other and basically being a refugee myself, so my sympathy really goes with refugees, and I do not wish to confine that sympathy to my people alone. We've been refugees ourselves, because we in the '30s and '40s found all the gates closed in front of us. When you see the scene of what has happened at the train station in Budapest, you can't forget the trains that led the Jews to their deaths, and I think that if there is one thing that we have to learn - or that many of us have learned from the Holocaust - is the sanctity of human life."

Collete Avital, Holocaust survivor and former Israeli politician and diplomat, September 2015

Source in English

“No one takes their child on a flimsy boat to cross the Mediterranean unless they are desperate.”

Mattie J. Bekink, a consultant at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, August 2016

Source in English

"The Republic of Cuba has the right to select the quality of immigrants most suited to the development of the population, its industries and commerce, classifying each immigrant as useful or not useful to our nationality.”

The preamble to Cuban Government Decree No. 2507 from November 17, 1939

Source in English: The Report by the American consul in Havana on European refugees in Cuba. March 17, 1939. State CDF 837.55J/1

"We hear a lot about the asylum seekers and refugees, but we do not listen to them enough. It is more difficult to hate, fear or expel a person if you look into his eyes and listen to his story, even briefly.”

From the description of the Israeli Project “Kolot MiHolot” (Voices from the Holot detention facility), 2015

Source in Hebrew

“Being a refugee is not a choice one makes!”

Signs that were carried during a demonstration in Tel Aviv, June 2012

Source in Hebrew

"Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more."

Pope Francis, from the Vatican, 5 August 2013

Source in English

"If you can't imagine yourself in one of those boats, you have something missing. They are dying for a life worth living. #refugeeswelcome"

J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter

Source in English: J.K. Rowling tweeting on her own as well as retweeting users calling British Prime Minister David Cameron's stance on refugees 'utterly shameful' and linked to a petition for the United Kingdom to accept more asylum seekers, 3:45 PM - 3 Sep 2015

"The key to the problem of immigration must be the contribution which the immigrants can make to the development of the population, to wealth and the cultural life of the countries to which they emigrate.”

Statistical Tables on the Distribution Migration and Natural Increase of the Jews in the World, pp. 1 and 2, 1938

Source in English: Robert Weltsch Collection 1770-1997, LBI NY AR 7185 MF 491 Reels 1-31

“At stake at Evian were both human lives – and the decency and self-respect of the civilized world. If each nation at Evian had agreed on that day to take in 17,000 Jews at once, every Jew in the Reich could have been saved. […] At Evian, they began with high hopes. But they failed the test of civilization. The civilized world hid in a cloak of legalisms.”

Walter Mondale (*1928, Vise-President of the United States 1977-1981), in a speech on the question of boat people at the United Nations Conference on Indochinese Refugees, 21 July 1979

Source in English: Walter Mondale, “Evian and Geneva” in New York Times, 28 July 1979

“When we look at the face of each refugee, but especially those of the children and women, we feel their suffering, and a human being who has a better situation in life has the responsibility to help them. But on the other hand, there are too many at the moment…”

The Dalai Lama, leader of Tibetan Buddhism, in: Agence-France Presse, 31 Mai 2016

“All nations probably, and this country included, could absorb a far greater number of individual refugees than they do now without suffering from economic or political indigestion.”

Newspaper article without author’s name, July 1938

Source in English: “After Évian”, newspaper article in The Manchester Guardian, July 16, 1938, p. 12 (no author is mentioned)

"The most widespread and serious opposition to immigration is based on the argument that the labour (sic!) market is already overstocked and that any addition will merely aggravate the problem of unemployment. The prevalence of unemployment is used as an argument for encouraging emigration and discouraging immigration.”

Council for German Jewry: Memorandum for Submission to Èvian Conference, 1938

Source in English: Robert Weltsch Collection 1770-1997, LBI NY AR 7185 MF 491 Reels 1-31, 1938

„Misfortune is just as stigmatizing as leprosy – for a little while, it causes sympathy, then unpatience and in the end rejection and antipathy. People always tend to claim their own distress to be a virtue, while declaring the others’ distress to be a crime.”

Alfred Polgar, Austrian author, originally named Alfred Polak, son of Hungarian-Slovakian Jews, was then in French Exile, escaping from the Nazis, January 1939

Source in German: Alfred Polgar, newspaper article "Zu einem Gegenwarts-Thema" in Pariser Tageszeitung, January 4, 1939

"Refugees are the very embodiment of ‚human waste‘, with no useful function to play in the land of their arrival and temporary stay, and with neither an intention nor a realistic prospect that they will be assimilated and incorporated into the new social body.”

Zygmunt Bauman, Polish-British sociologist and philosopher, 2007/2008

Source in English: Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Times. Living in an Age of Uncertainty, 2007, p. 41

"No society, no state, can successfully assume the tremendous responsibility of fostering thousands of motherless, embittered, persecuted children of undesirable foreigners and expect to convert these embattled souls into loyal, loving American citizens... If these so-called innocent, helpless children are admitted as refugees into America, I am sure they will become the leaders of revolt and deprive my children of their right to worship God, of free speech, and of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Alice Waters, American anti-immigration activist, in 1939

Source in English: Testimony of Alice Waters, Admission of German Refugee Children. Joint Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Immigration, April 20, 21, 22, and 24, 1939 (Washington, 1939), in: Tara Zahra, "The Lost Children", 2011, p. 69 f.

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