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James M. Fenwick

Off Limits

(23 September 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 38, 23 September 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the ETOL.

Near Salzburg in Austria is the small town of Lebenau. It lies peacefully amid some of the loveliest country in all Europe. It is a land where a person can gracefully and willingly grow old.

Located at Lebenau during the war was a “delinquent women’s institute.” In the final phases of the galloping disintegration of the nazi empire it was used as a way station for men being sent to Dachau. A friend of mine arrived there a few hours after its liberation.

The camp was filled with tottering skeletons weighing barely sixty pounds. Many, too weak to stand, lay in the filth and stench. There was no joy or sadness. There was hardly comprehension. Only total defeat.


A tattered Frenchman wandered up, smiling slightly.

“Seen the show?”

“No – where?”

“Over there.”

My friend looked. A crowd of the former inmates were milling around. He walked over. In the center of the crowd, lying on the ground, were two SS guards who had fled to the woods on the approach of the Americans. Hunger had driven them out again. The prisoners, men barely able to stand, were primitively beating them to death with bottles, stones, and clubs.

As the guards were writhing in death a Jewish prisoner knelt down beside one of them and sank his teeth into the guard’s neck. He sucked a mouthful of blood and carefully spat it out. Then he methodically continued.

“I’m sucking your blood,” he said, “just as you have sucked the blood of all the Jews of Europe.”

My friend turned around and threw up.


Only those who know nothing of the inferno of Europe will see in that incident anything “abnormal” or “perverse.” With bombs and shells, nationalism, forced labor, anti-Semitism, death, propaganda, Carthaginian ruins, starvation, crematoriums, wandering moral corruption, concentration camps, poverty, and mutilation – with all this capitalism has dragged down human life to new depths of debasement.

On no people did the war press harder than on the Jews. Of 15,000,000 Jews in the world 6,000,000 perished during the war. That epic of heartbreak has yet to be written; then we may understand a little. But there are hundreds of thousands of Jews who have felt on their bodies the tragedy of the past years.

That is why most Jews in Europe, consider that European civilization has ended. There is an almost universal and gnawing desperation to get out. For most, that means Palestine, which beckons like a promised land in a disordered world.

But Palestine remains only a mirage for the masses of the Jews. British imperialism, fearful of the joint action of Arabs and Jews alike against their common oppressor, is striving to prevent the entrance of Jews into Palestine. In doing so they are employing many of Hitler’s weapons against the Jews: concentration camps, deportations, the theory of collective guilt, curfews, courts-martial, and mass searches.


Anyone who has seen the newsreels taken of that bitter Calvary which now ends behind the barbed wire in Cyprus, and is not moved to pity, is a slave. Whoever is moved to pity but does not protest is forging his own chains.

A special obligation lies upon all non-Jews to defend a people who have contributed so much to human culture and who have suffered such desperate horrors for the last thirteen years, caught in the vortex of a sinking capitalism.

The doors of all the countries of the globe should be opened to Jewish immigration, but first and foremost,

Open Palestine to the Jews!

Open the portals of United States!

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