Thursday, August 12, 2010

Light & Shadows: Excerpt IX

Arnold stays in Germany for two years after the war, working as an interpreter and serving as a deputy security officer with the U.S. forces in Berlin. He returns to Baltimore in June 1947.

Arnold married Laura Buxbaum on February 21, 1960.

When I returned to Baltimore from Berlin, I didn’t realize at first how profoundly my experiences overseas had changed me. But as I settled back into life in the U.S., my convictions began to take shape. I was aware of my own good fortune and grateful to have had the opportunity to fight for my adopted country. But I had seen enough by the age of twenty-one to be realistic about the world. Although the things I’d experienced didn’t make me pessimistic about human nature or doubtful about my own prospects,
they did make me intolerant of injustice.

My first priority after I got home was to enroll in college and start preparing for a career, so I set up an appointment with the dean of admissions at Johns Hopkins University, where I’d been placed on the waiting list. As I sat across from him at his large desk, I glanced at my folder, which was open in front of him. To my surprise, I saw the word
“Hebrew” boldly stamped on one of the pages. “Do you have a quota system for Jews?” I cried, jumping up from my chair. When my interviewer responded that, yes, Hopkins did limit the number of Jews it admitted, I felt a rage rising within me. I’d never felt a rage like that before, and I can’t say that I’ve ever felt it again. When I’d faced discrimination
and outright persecution in Nazi Germany, I was just a boy and I assumed I couldn’t do much about it. But I was in America now, the land of the free. I had fought for this country, and I deserved better.

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