We are joined by 88-year-old Jewish German American Marione Ingram, who describes how her scheduled speaking tour in Hamburg — the city she fled in the Holocaust — was “postponed” this month amid a wider backlash against those speaking out against Israel’s assault on Gaza. Ingram has been protesting for months outside the White House calling for a ceasefire, and characterizes U.S. and German pro-Israel policy as “disturbing” and “frightening.” As a survivor of the Holocaust, Ingram says, “My childhood was spent in the first 10 years much the same way as the children of Gaza. I know exactly what they’re going through. I know exactly how they’re feeling.” She argues “it should be an absolute standstill of all governments that you are told over 10,000 children are being murdered. There is no excuse for that.”
More from this Interview
- Part 1: Palestinian Artist Samia Halaby Slams Indiana University for Canceling Exhibit over Her Support for Gaza
- Part 2: Artist Emily Jacir: Rampant Censorship Is Part of the Genocidal Campaign to Erase Palestinians
- Part 3: Holocaust Survivor Marione Ingram Decries Climate of Censorship After Her Hamburg Talks Are Canceled
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to Marione Ingram. She’s an 88-year-old German American Holocaust survivor who’s been protesting for months outside the White House calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. She was scheduled to speak this month at eight different schools in her native Hamburg, Germany. She was planning to address students receiving awards recognizing their commitment to social justice activism. Then, in December, she was told by an event organizer that her appearances were canceled. The trip was eventually postponed until May.
AMY GOODMAN: Marione Ingram is author of The Hands of War: A Tale of Endurance and Hope from a Survivor of the Holocaust and also the book The Hands of Peace: A Holocaust Survivor’s Fight for Civil Rights in the American South. She’s joining us from Washington, D.C.
Marione, I’m sorry you had to leave the studio because there was an alarm in the building and everyone had to evacuate, but you’re back now. And you have heard the previous guests, two Palestinian American esteemed artists, talking about having been canceled, like you, Samia Halaby by Indiana University, and Emily Jacir was about to give a talk in Berlin. Talk about the reason you were given for going back to Hamburg, Germany, where you’ve gone a number of times to speak to young people, but the reason why your talks were canceled this month.
MARIONE INGRAM: Good morning, Amy. Yes, a bit of excitement, so I missed — I heard Samia’s explanation of her cancellation — I’m really sorry about that — and missed the other, because we were evacuated.
The reasons for my cancellation have been extremely vague, given a climate in Germany right now of a lot of antisemitic events, apparently. And the only concrete explanation I got from someone was that I, as a Holocaust survivor, would be used by the AfD, which is the Alternative for Deutschland, the Alternative for Germany, which is a neo-Nazi and a primarily antisemitic group. But I was told that they would use my picture and my protest sign in a propaganda — I can’t even figure out what kind of propaganda that would be used for, since they are basically Nazis and would be a destruction of —
AMY GOODMAN: The sign you’re talking about is, standing outside the White House, “Survivor says peace not war”?
MARIONE INGRAM: Yes, yes. But on the flip side, it says “Stop genocide in Gaza.” And that has upset the powers that be, politicians who decide what can be said and what cannot be said.
I have been speaking to students for years, and I was also told by several teachers that right now my presence, talking to students, is of the utmost importance, because the schools in Hamburg are so diverse and there are many students who come from countries where there is war, oppression, poverty, and students in really terrible positions of trying to manage what is going on, conflict with each other. And I was told that my presence is so important because I have a rapport with students, and they were looking forward to expressing their thoughts, because they know that in talking to me and with me that they can say everything that is on their minds without being criticized or ostracized.
I find it extremely — I understand Germany’s sensitivity because of their gruesome history. But Germany has also been the only country, maybe other than Rwanda, that has acknowledged its horrific history, and it has taught this history as a “never again” thing. We must face our history so we can learn from it. So it is surprising to me that Germany has chosen to silence me.
But I think the worst part of it is that they are silencing young people who are experiencing — especially in Germany, they are close to the war in Ukraine. They are troubled by what is going on by the war in the Mideast and the horrific slaughter of innocent people. It should be an absolute standstill of all governments when you are told that over 10,000 children are being murdered. There is no excuse for that.
And then to turn around — America and Germany’s support of Israel’s politics is extremely disturbing and, to me, frightening, because any time any government decides to silence the voices of people who oppose government policies, whatever they may be, this reminds me so much of my childhood. My childhood was spent in the first 10 years much the same way as the children of Gaza. I know exactly what they are going through. I know exactly what they are thinking. And this, apparently, has upset the Ministry of Culture, because I have compared the onset —
AMY GOODMAN: We have less than a minute to go.
MARIONE INGRAM: The silencing of the last survivor of all three major events in Hamburg — the firestorm, the worst bombing in the European war, and the Holocaust, where I lost almost all of my family — and the silencing of voices like all of our voices when they are most needed is indicative of something more frightening, because I believe when governments decide to silence voices in opposition to the stance that they are taking, then we have to really question very deeply why are they doing it and for what reason.
AMY GOODMAN: Marione Ingram, we’re going to have to leave it there, but we thank you so much for being with us, 88-year-old Jewish German Holocaust survivor, has been protesting, calling for Biden to support a Gaza ceasefire.