No ‘us’ and ‘them’

THE author of the recent letter headlined �Vet everyone� wrote: �Would they let someone, a complete stranger, into their home without knowing whether they carry any diseases, were terrorists, thieves and so forth?�

No one would try to claim that the present worldwide flood of people seeking refuge from the conditions in their own countries does not bring with it a huge problem for all the authorities.

However, I would like to mention that in March 1939, following the Nazi pogrom in 1938, known as Kristallnacht, when Jews were targeted in Germany, my parents sponsored a German Jewess out of her own country, which had become too dangerous for her.

She was 34, came �sight unseen� and lived with us for many months until she found her feet and another job.

As I grew up, I became friends with her at a new level, and was chief mourner at her funeral in the late 1960s.

Her arrival in my family, though it sometimes had its problems, also brought with it an understanding of what persecuted people had to face in finding a new way into life, and I have always been thankful for that insight.

We cannot afford to slice the world into �us and them�. Whatever controls we put into place, we have to remind ourselves that these people have already suffered more than most of us in this lucky country can imagine.

Yes, some will be the sort of people we can do without. But perhaps we are the sort of people they cannot do without: people brought up on compassion and an awareness of the needs of others.

I am proud of my parents for taking that gamble. They saved that woman from the fate of her mother, who died in Auschwitz.