We know that even having learned about the Holocaust as a kid can alter one’s conception of reality, a factor compounded all the more for children of survivors. What we didn’t know is that such lingering trauma might help you get off for tax evasion. Jack Barouh, 65, the former proprietor of a watch company, is due to be sentenced today in Miami federal court for failing to report offshore bank accounts and the income he received from his UBS accounts. His lawyer, citing a memorandum from a doctor, is pleading for Barouh, whose parents escaped the Holocaust in Europe and raised him in Colombia, where they also experienced harassment and discrimination, to be sentenced to home detention rather than jail. His excuse? Barouh was “motivated by fears of possible persecution and sudden loss and by a ‘hide and hoard’ behavior adopted by Holocaust survivors and their children.” The memorandum asserts that “These beliefs cause a person to compulsively and almost obsessively, want to establish a secret nest egg.”
Actually, we completely buy that. Even in a lower-stakes report to the government, the census, the Holocaust looms large for some survivors’ kids. The Nation reports that one such woman who considers being Jewish a racial identity couldn’t bring herself to write it in on the census: “she acknowledged a deep ambivalence about putting that on any official form. She’s the child of Holocaust survivors, and although she said she doesn’t distrust the US government or think that this form—used to patrol against discrimination—bears any resemblance to a yellow star, she admitted that she remains hesitant and torn.”
UBS Tax Evader Cites Holocaust “Survival Behavior” [Reuters]
Not-Black by Default [The Nation]
Hadara Graubart was formerly a writer and editor for Tablet Magazine.