Here's The Question A Nazi Prisoner's Son Never Got To Ask Donald Trump

by John Haltiwanger
John Haltiwanger

Donald Trump took his campaign to Milwaukee on Tuesday, where he criticized recent protests and unrest sparked by the police killing of 23-year-old Sylville K. Smith just three days prior.

During his visit, Trump joined Sean Hannity for a town hall event at Pabst Theater.

A small crowd of protesters gathered outside, unhappy the real estate mogul was visiting the city while it was still reeling from the troubling events.

Some felt Trump was trying to capitalize on and gain publicity from Milwaukee's recent struggles.

Lingering among the crowd was a psychiatrist named Jan C. Van Schaik of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.

He looked upset and approached me after he saw me interviewing one of the protesters.

John Haltiwanger
John Haltiwanger
John Haltiwanger

Schaik told me he'd been approved by Fox News to ask a question during the event, but when he arrived was denied entry. Even though he had a ticket, which he showed me, and his wife was inside, he said he was "stonewalled" by the Secret Service, Fox News and the Trump campaign.

John Haltiwanger

He was told the event was filled to capacity, but he wasn't really buying it. Schaik said,

I think this is a violation of freedom of speech... I explained several times… My wife tried to talk to representatives there, saying that I was approved for a question to ask, no one would listen to her...

Schaik said he believed Trump and Hannity wanted "softball questions," and seemed suspicious this was part of the reason he wasn't allowed in.

With that said, it does appear seats at the event were on a first come, first serve basis.

But it's also quite a shame Schaik wasn't able to ask his question, as it was incredibly powerful and deeply personal.

Schaik, who has lived in Wisconsin for over 35 years, said he was originally from the Netherlands, and his parents had come to America in search of a better life. He explained,

My father was a prisoner in World War II and the original reason he landed in prison was for criticizing Hitler. He was working on a barge in Germany and told somebody at a butcher shop that, 'You don't need Hitler's goddamn liberation.' He was immediately arrested and placed in a work camp for 16 months. Later, after WWII, when the Russians invaded Hungary, my father was concerned about the spread of tyranny once again in Europe. So we applied for a visa to come to the US, thinking it was the land of the free. I can remember seeing the Statue of Liberty coming in. I wanted to live in a country that was free.

He then likened Trump's rhetoric, policy proposals and demeanor to Adolf Hitler. He said,

Trump represents a very serious threat to our freedom. His campaign reminds me a lot of the way Hitler was freely elected in Nazi Germany... His hateful statements go against everything the Constitution stands for… Trump is not a true Republican, he's an autocrat, he's a dictator. He is unstable, and he could put our life at tremendous risk... because he's unhinged. I think he runs the risk of getting us into a dangerous war, and he can limit freedoms in the US.

Schaik then showed me the question he planned on asking Trump, which outlined his family's history and asked how Trump would assure him he would not be living under an authoritarian regime with the real estate mogul as president.

The full question read,

In 1959 I immigrated here to America as a small child with my parents. They were fleeing the threat of a Stalinist regime and the tyranny they had experienced as prisoners in a Nazi Germany civilian work camp. They wanted to live a life of liberty, free of oppression. With the direction of your messages how can I be assured that if you are elected president, we will not be living under an authoritarian regime that threatens our liberties?

Schaik, whose mother was also a Nazi prisoner during WWII (where she met his father), is extremely grateful for the opportunities he's had living in America, and feels strongly they should be afforded to all.

He said he's particularly concerned for some of the groups Trump has targeted throughout the election cycle,

I have had a very good life, I am self-made, I've been very successful. I'm concerned now that other people who want that same success, whether they be from Syria, or Bosnia, or even from France, because [Trump] said any country that has had problems with Islamic terrorism, he doesn't want them to be in. There are good, hardworking people from Mexico living in this country, they are being marginalized. He's marginalizing the disabled. If we keep going down this path, people will face similar fates as under the Nazi regime in Germany.

Schaik said he's not particularly fond of Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, but he doesn't think she poses an "existential threat" to America quite like the Republican presidential nominee does.

The polite and articulate Wisconsinite said his father died about a year and a half ago. I asked him what his dad might say about Trump if he was still alive. He replied,

He would say, 'We don't need another Hitler.'