Schlepping Through the Alps with Syrian-Palestinian Refugees
…while singing Yiddish folk songs. Hans Breuer, the subject of the 2005 book Schlepping Through the Alps: My Search for Austria’s Jewish Past with Its Last Wandering Shepherd witnessed the growing refugee crisis in Europe. As the son of Jewish parents who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and became homeless refugees, the situation struck close to home. Global News reported that
…he says he decided to act when he saw a news report on the conditions at the government-run refugee camp in Traiskirchen, which is filled to over double its intended capacity… “I was sick of this crime, I asked my wife whether we should do something, and that’s how it began.” … So he decided to head down to the camp last August with food and water for the refugees encamped there. Having seen their living conditions first hand, he says he decided to start assisting them in their journey across Europe – one car load at a time.
In this video, Breuer is seen singing the Yiddish folk song “Oyfn Veg Shteyt a Boym” (“A Tree Stands Off a Road”) by Itsik Mangerhe. Then we see a carload of Syrian-Palestinian refugees singing along with the refrain “Ay Bitty Bitty Boym!“ They seem happy because they are the lucky ones – spared a tragically long march thanks to the selflessness of one Jewish man. You can come to your own conclusions about the significance of this very human moment.