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This Woman's Great-Grandparents Were Killed At Auschwitz After They Were Rejected As Refugees

"I felt that I had to show the human cost of these bureaucratic decisions."

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On Sunday, Juchau tweeted documents showing her great-grandparents' request for asylum during World War II being rejected by the Australian government. The great-grandparents later died at Auschwitz.

After my great grandparents were denied asylum in Aust they were murdered in Auschwitz. @TurnbullMalcolm please spe…

Juchau shared the personal documents after Donald Trump introduced a sweeping executive order suspending America's refugee program for 120 days and blocking immigration from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen.

Juchau, whose grandparents and great-grandparents were refugees, felt compelled to act.

"I woke up on Sunday morning and I saw what was happening," she told BuzzFeed News. "I was appalled, and I felt that I had to show the human cost of these bureaucratic decisions."

Juchau said she wanted to show her children that they always have the power to speak up.


"With a signature you can consign someone to safety or you can abandon them," she said.

Juchau's children were inspired to write letters to the prime minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, urging him to speak out against Trump's immigration law.

"I felt dismayed there wasn't a reaction from our prime minister," she said.


On Monday, Malcolm Turnbull refused to criticise Trump's refugee ban, saying it wasn't his job as prime minister to run commentary on the policies of other countries.

Brook Mitchell / Getty Images

Juchau was astounded with Turnbull's refusal to speak out, and was even more concerned when treasurer and former immigration minister Scott Morrison said Trump's move represented the world "catching up to" Australia's strict immigration laws.

More than 2,000 people retweeted Juchau, who says she received countless heartening responses from others who had their own family refugee experiences.

@MireilleJuchau @TurnbullMalcolm My parents were children in WW2, they escaped Auschwitz sorry for your loss

"I didn't post it for want of sympathy, but I have been astonished by the number of people who responded to that tweet with their own story," she said.

@MireilleJuchau @darrenhayes @TurnbullMalcolm So sorry. My husband had family die in Bergan Belsen.

@MireilleJuchau @mrconnorobrien @TurnbullMalcolm horrible lifechanging decisions couched in faux-sympathetic bureaucratic shit back then too

@MireilleJuchau @Wendy_Bacon Oh a heartbreaking reminder of what happened May their souls never be forgotten

@MireilleJuchau @TurnbullMalcolm Heartbreaking.

"This was only my small contribution to something that I couldn't remain silent about."

Juchau has written a longer essay about her grandparents fleeing Nazi Germany here.

Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Brad Esposito at

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