Guarding The Golden Door

1493 Words 6 Pages
As I interpret the stories of my own family’s post-WWII emigration from Germany, to Canada and America between 1952 and 1953, it becomes evident that things have indeed changed historically in regard to immigration policy in the U.S. as well as in Europe. However, one disturbing factor that remains the same is the practice of exclusion and restriction.1 In the case of my grandfather Julius Mathews, a native German born in 1908, exclusion laws prohibited him from entering the U.S. in 1953 based on the fact that he was an officer in the Nazi Party during WWII. During a 2013 interview with my father Joachim Mathews, he stated that my grandfather, “was considered a Nazi because he belonged to the party, so Canada took him… Canada didn’t care, so …show more content…
Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882. New York: Hill and Wang, 2004.
In chapter one of his book, Guarding the Golden Door, Roger Daniels writes, “It marked the moment when the golden doorway of admission to the United States began to narrow and initiated a thirty-nine-year period of successive exclusions of certain kinds of immigrants, 1882-1921, followed by twenty-two years, 1921-43, when statutes and administrative actions set narrowing numerical limits for those immigrants who had not otherwise been excluded.
2 Joachim Mathews, interviews by Edmund Mathews, Lenoir City, TN, June 26, 2013. (selected audio
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Having been attacked on its own soil at Pearl Harbor in 1941, having concluded the World War in 1945, and having witnessed the aftermath of the holocaust, seemed very good reasons for America to add certain restrictions to its borders in reaction to threat. Immigration restrictions put in place just after WWII forced my grandfather and other family members to settle in Sutton, Canada, rather than in the U.S., thus influencing their identity and physically restricting the body from freedom of movement. In other words, my Grandfather’s body could not move in a particular direction, and he was limited by law to movement outside of the United States. As an officer in the Nazi Party many say my grandfather got better than he deserved in comparison to the suffering caused by the Germans during the Holocaust. This may be true, but not actually being in the same situation during the same time period, makes those comments come across as cases of teutophobia and they ignore the concept of blind patriotism and social control through propaganda. The stigma of the holocaust not only marked my grandfather, but also his homeland of two generations, his family, and his family yet to come. Surely, the inhumane extermination of millions of Jewish people is of no comparison to the plight of a single man (my

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