The last time I spoke with Magda a few months ago, our conversation mostly revolved around my new girlfriend, Magda’s hip problems and her passionate displeasure for Bernie Sanders and Toronto weather.
This time, it took about 30 seconds to break through the pleasantries and get to the point.
“You guys really did it, didn’t you?” she told me with a giggle on Thursday.
I called Magda because of the burning question in my head, and few, if any, have felt the pain of totalitarianism and fascism the way she has.
You see, my great aunt Magda, my grandmother’s first cousin, survived Auschwitz as a teenager before fleeing her native Hungary in the late 1950s and eventually settling in Toronto, Canada, where she lives today. Magda has always kept her war experience close to her chest, preferring not to talk about her past with even her own husband while always skillfully dodging my nosy questions. A thick Hungarian accent is one of few tangible links to an unequivocally dark past.
A few months shy of her 88th birthday, Magda’s mind is as sharp as ever, honed by watching the news and reading all sorts of books along with the Toronto Star cover-to-cover on a daily basis.
So, Magda, do current events, and specifically Donald Trump, remind you of Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler?
“Well, come on, let’s not over do it,” Magda said. “But (Europe) didn’t take Hitler seriously enough, and by the time they woke up, it was much too late. But let’s not compare. I don’t think there is an equal comparison.”
“Be very careful,” Magda said. “It’s not funny. It’s really not funny.”
She somewhat downplayed the World War II comparisons, mostly staking her belief in the basic decency of the American people, but her thoughts on Trump and the election are clear.
“I hope most people are upset,” she said. “Shame on you, all of you.”
So, what do you think should people do, maybe something that wasn’t done during Hitler’s rise to power?
“I think (the protests) were great,” Magda said. “But if you’re out protesting Saturday and by Sunday you get sleepy, then, well.”
“I would certainly let my voice be heard that I don’t want the immigrants kicked out. It’s going to take a long while. Organize. You are the young folks, and you (didn’t) do too much for this election.”
While it’s just one person’s opinion, perhaps a gentle reminder of the dark consequences of a worst-case scenario now chronicled in grainy black-and-white videos in an HD world is worth a thought, particularly a day removed from International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
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