Bernard Marks, 87, will talk about the Holocaust with anyone who will listen.
The world was listening this week after the Auschwitz survivor stood at a Sacramento immigration forum Tuesday and compared the Trump administration’s hardline stance on refugees and undocumented immigrants to Nazi Germany.
“History is not on your side,” Marks told Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, who hosted the forum featuring Thomas Homan,, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Marks came to the United States after spending more than five years in Nazi concentration camps as a child during World War II.
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Versions of his sharp comments at the forum have run in The Washington Post, Huffington Post, New York Daily News, The Times of Israel and The Independent (of London) among other publications, this week.
“It went viral,” Marks said. “People I know in Europe picked it up.”
Speaking at the forum at the Sacramento County Youth Gym, Homan didn’t directly address Marks’ comparison but defended his agency’s activities.
“If you think ICE officers don’t have a heart, you don’t get it,” Homan told the largely hostile crowd. “Do I feel sorry about the plight of some of these people? Yes, but I have a job to do.”
In a followup interview, Marks talked about his comparison of the Trump administration to Nazis.
“I have not compared them 100 percent to the Nazis, but we are on the way,” he said. “What concerns me is we are breaking up families. We are turning justice upside down. We are starting with the Muslims. Who is next?”
On Thursday, Marks was back talking about the injustices suffered by Jews during World War II. His audience members this time were students in back-to-back civics classes at Laguna Creek High School in Elk Grove.
Speaking before a racially diverse class, Marks skipped the political comments and offered a detailed account, with slide show, of his life in Poland, forced transportation to concentration camps and the atrocities there.
Skipping slides here and there, Marks was unable to fit his two-hour talk into the one-hour class. A gruesome slide of charred bodies remained on the screen as bell rang and the students filed out.
The room briefly empty, Marks reset the show and prepared to tell his story again.