Monday, May 28, 2007

Al Taubenberger
A nice fellow who probably deserves to be Philadelphia’s mayor
Born in 1954, he was raised in Philly in the years after World War II, and his parents were West German immigrants who narrowly escaped Hitler's reign. Sometimes, neighbors would pull him aside from playing with his friends on Oxford Avenue and harshly ask if his parents were here in the country legally.

"I didn't like it, I don't think anyone else would like it, and I don't think it should happen to anyone," he said.

When he was 21, he found out that his parents' deepest fears had, at one point, come true: Taubenberger and his dad, Alfred Sr., applied for visas for a family trip to Germany. Taubenberger wondered why it took weeks to process Alfred Sr.'s application. He got his answer when a crate-filled FBI dossier arrived, detailing the nearly 18 months (from 1941 to 1942) he was detained in an Army camp along with many other German and Japanese immigrants.

After being moved from base to base across the country without evidence or charges against him, Alfred Sr. was released. At the visa hearing, an officer finished reading though the file and looked at Alfred Sr. "I know it doesn't mean much at this point," Taubenberger recalled him saying. "But I've never seen a case built against somebody for nothing. On behalf of the American government, I would like to apologize."

"I know it's human nature for one person to look at another and wonder, 'Is he a criminal or not?'" Taubenberger said with tears in his eyes. "But I think civil liberties need to be protected as best as possible."

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