Tag Archives: concentration camp

Trump tweets anti-Semitic image taken from neo-Nazi message board

[UPDATE] Mic News reported that the anti-Semitic image Trump tweeted of Hillary Clinton was taken from a neo-Nazi message board. According to Mic News, the site said the image appeared on an entry posted around June 22, more than a week before Trump’s team tweeted it yesterday.

The image, which pictured Hillary Clinton’s face against a backdrop of $100 bills next to a Star of David containing the words “most corrupt candidate ever,” was first tweeted by the Trump campaign yesterday morning. Yesterday was also notable in anti-Semitic history due to the death of the world’s most famous living Holocaust survivor.

Marc Lamont Hill, host of BET News and a CNN commentator, called Trump’s tweet “textbook anti-Semitic imagery.” Many other commentators reached the same conclusion.

After critics condemned the image as a “dog-whistle” appeal to anti-Semites and racists, the Trump campaign replaced the Star of David with a circle. That move prompted Jewish-American civil rights activist Michael Skolnik to tweet, “First appease anti-Semitic white supremacists, then pretend it never happened.”

Trump’s tweet went out just hours before the death of Auschwitz concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel was confirmed. The celebrated Jewish author and philosopher was 87.

Wiesel spent his life ensuring the Holocaust would not be forgotten through his writings and teachings. His autobiographical 1960 book Night became one of the 20th century’s most influential literary works. In it, Wiesel described the horrors of life in Nazi death camps and how his experiences led him to doubt God and question his own survival.

Weisel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. The Nobel citation called Wiesel called him “a messenger to mankind.”

“His message is one of peace, atonement and human dignity. His belief that the forces fighting evil in the world can be victorious is a hard-won belief,” the Nobel Committee wrote.

Wiesel’s death will probably bring more attention to Trump’s tweet today and lead to renewed wariness of his perceived bigotry. The presumptive presidential nominee has attracted neo-Nazi groups and Ku Klux Klan followers with his condemnation of Mexicans and Muslims.

After he received the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke earlier this year, Trump declined to repudiate the endorsement, saying that he would need to learn more about Duke first.

“The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes in, we believe in. We want our country to be safe,” the Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan told a Richmond, Virginia, news station in late April.

Neo-Nazis have also expressed their support for Trump. Leaders of that movement have said they plan to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to protect Trump from protesters.

In a podcast last August, Stormfront radio co-host Don Advo expressed his admiration for Trump. He said Trump’s foes are “living on the pieces of silver that they get from their Jewish paymasters so that they can preside over our extermination, our disposition, and our ultimate disappearance from the face of the Earth,” Buzzfeed reported.

Stormfront is a white supremacist, neo-Nazi Internet forum that’s considered the Web’s oldest major racial hate site.


Obama: On the liberation of Dachau 70 years ago

President Barack Obama, on April 29, issued the following statement on the liberation of Dachau 70 years ago.

The president said, “On this day, we remember when American forces liberated Dachau 70 years ago, dismantling the first concentration camp established by the Nazi regime. Dachau is a lesson in the evolution of darkness, how unchecked intolerance and hatred spiral out of control.

“From its sinister inception in 1933, Dachau held political prisoners — opponents of the Third Reich.  It became the prototype for Nazi concentration camps and the training ground for Schutzstaffel (SS) camp guards.  As the seed of Nazi evil grew, the camp swelled with thousands of others across Europe targeted by the Nazis, including Jews, other religious sects, Sinti, Roma, LGBT persons, the disabled, and those deemed asocial. 

“Our hearts are heavy in remembrance of the more than 40,000 individuals from every walk of life who died, and the more than 200,000 who suffered at Dachau.  As we reflect on the anniversary of Dachau’s liberation, we draw inspiration from, and recall with gratitude, the sacrifices of so many Americans – in particular our brave soldiers — to win victory over oppression.  Drawing from the words of Captain Timothy Brennan, who wrote to his wife and child after liberating the camp — You cannot imagine that such things exist in a civilized world’ — we fervently vow that such atrocities will never happen again.  History will not repeat itself.”

Children of Holocaust survivors inherit the role of witness

When David Hershkoviz was a child, he used to wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of his mother screaming in her sleep, knowing that she was reliving the horrors of the Holocaust.

In time, he learned of the traumatic wartime experience that haunted her most — being torn away from her own mother at the Auschwitz concentration camp’s selection line, where at 21 she was forced into work and her mother dispatched to death.

“That separation never left her,” said Hershkoviz, 54, his voice quivering as he choked back tears. “She said, `I think my mother is angry at me because I left her. … My mother never comes to me in my dreams. I haven’t dreamed about her since we parted. How is that possible?'”

When his mother, Mindel, died two years ago, he wanted to carry on her legacy by bearing witness to the Holocaust. He found help in a first-of-its-kind course teaching the children of Holocaust survivors how to ensure their parents’ stories live on.

Hershkoviz is one of 18 graduates of the Shem Olam Institute’s inaugural four-month “second-generation” course, where children of survivors study the history of the horrors their parents endured and how best to pass it on. The program in Israel aims to usher in a new stage of Holocaust commemoration in a post-survivor era.

The German Nazis and their collaborators murdered 6 million Jews during World War II, wiping out a third of world Jewry. Only a few hundred thousand elderly survivors remain, and the day is fast approaching when there will be no one left to provide a coherent first-person account of the ghettos and death camps.

With Israel marking its annual Holocaust remembrance day this week, that has become the central challenge for Holocaust institutes around the world as they rush to collect as many records and belongings as possible before the live testimony of survivors is a thing of the past.

Shem Olam looks to take this trend one step further, by not only recording survivors’ biographies but also the emotional experiences that can be relayed through their children.

“We are here to give a different narrative of the Holocaust. We’ve heard the story of tragedy, we want to give the story of how people coped inside this living hell,” said Avraham Krieger, the institute’s director.

Krieger, himself a child of survivors, said the second generation grew up in homes that were haunted by the past and where the concept of a grandparent was nonexistent.

He believes that in 100 years, when people recall the Holocaust, they will be most interested in how people lived rather than how they died. He says it is his generation’s responsibility to counter the myth of Jews meekly marching to their deaths.

“The story of the Holocaust is how a person copes in such an environment,” he said. “An extreme reality, which has no parallel in modern history, of people who are in the most dire human situation and are still maintaining their humanity, still maintaining something from their values.”

Deborah Dwork, director of the Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, welcomed the initiative, saying it would be very meaningful for future generations to have live contact with people who had personal relationships with survivors. She said there are still some Americans old enough to remember the powerful experience of meeting someone who was the child of a slave.

“That physical presence of a second generation person will lend authenticity to the history and will give it another dimension,” she said, before adding a warning. “I am a historian so what I want to say to them though is, `You inherited the legacy of trauma but it is not your history. … The history your parents lived is their history, not yours.'”

Established in 1996, Shem Olam says it looks to provide an alternative to the more established Holocaust museums by providing the “story behind the story” and getting beyond the victimization to focus on issues of faith and resilience. Krieger said “Shem Olam” derives its name from the same passage in the book of Isaiah that mentions “Yad Vashem” – the name of Israel’s official Holocaust memorial. Yad Vashem is Hebrew for “a memorial and a name,” while Shem Olam roughly translates into “everlasting name.”

Located in a modest three-story building inside a Jewish seminary in this small central Israeli village, it features Holocaust-inspired artwork and artifacts collected from the destruction, such as a charred Torah scroll.

Shem Olam, which receives minimal state funding and mostly exists off contributions, focuses on documenting religious life in the Holocaust. It holds public lectures and arranges delegations to former Jewish communities in Europe. But its flagship project of late has been the second-generation outreach program.

“Today we, as second generation, know which camp my mother and father were in, and how much bread they got is an important story. But it is more important to find out what kind of person they were,” said Krieger, 53. “We never really asked the tough questions of how our parents coped emotionally.”

Besides finding a kinship with others who shared a similar background, Hershkoviz said the course helped him understand his mother better. She died at the age of 90 with 13 great-grandchildren, and though her biography is well chronicled, Hershkoviz is determined to keep her “emotional experience” alive as well.

“The most significant thing I have to pass on from my mom is survival and how she built a new family,” he said. “I feel a responsibility to tell her story. There is no one else to do it.”