I remember being about 9-years-old sitting on the floor of my grandparents living room listening to what life was like in Nazi controlled Hungary in 1944.
After being invaded by Nazi Germany, the Hungarian government’s first task was to round up all of the Jewish families and deport them to Auschwitz. Within six weeks, the entire Hungarian Jewish population was placed on 147 cattle cars and transported to the most infamous death camp in history.
Imagine being 13-years-old, your entire family of six already living in the Munkacs ghetto, when suddenly you are told you have less than 12-hours to pack up your entire life in one suitcase and prepare to be deported. Before getting in train cars that were designed to transport livestock, you were forced to hand over every single dime of money that you had to a special Nazi delegation, which included your former school principal.
At this time the Jews had never heard of Auschwitz. So as they pulled up to the death camp and peered through the wooden beams, they were reassured to see that it looked like a prison work camp. There had been rumors of Jews being taken in mass out into the woods and executed. Therefore, the thought of prison work camp was a semblance of relief. At this point, they had no idea that this was all part of an orchestrated plan of genocide.
I remember hearing one horrifying fact that even Holocaust memorials seem to be incapable stomaching to discuss. It seems unthinkable that any human being could be so wickedly evil that they would kill children. However, the Nazi's primary motivation was to prevent future generations of Jews, so killing the children first made perfect sense. They could force the adults to work. However, the kids served no purpose for the Nazis, so they were marked for death.
The worst part of the entire Nazi system was it was completely built on deception. The Nazis were undoubtedly evil geniuses in regards to the ability to prey on people’s perceptions of what was normal. You thought you had arrived at a prison work camp. However, it actually was a genocidal death camp. I remember hearing how you might be told you were going to take a shower, but in reality, you were being taken to a gas chamber to die. It was all built on the deceptive ability to destroy people’s entire belief in hope and spirit to live.
The Nazis didn’t just want to kill you. They wanted to steal your soul.
I recall the emotional imagery of hearing how rather quickly after getting off of the Nazi trains reality sunk in. Almost instantly families were separated by age and sex. Children ripped from parent’s arms. Many of who would never see each other again. At least not on this earth.
I remember hearing about what it was like to stand near crematorium number four and watch rows of Jews waiting in line at the gate to the crematorium. All of those people would be dead within the hour. In 1944, when Hungarian Jews were sent to Auschwitz the crematorium was running 24 hours a day, constantly incinerating men, women, and children.
Normally it would never be a good thing to be forced into slave labor. However, for anyone who found themselves calling Auschwitz their home, slave labor was the best possible outcome.
Imagine, having no idea where your mother, father, and siblings were. Instead, the only semblance of joy you had, was being allowed to stay together with your younger sister. Both of you had been designated for slave labor.
Imagine what it would be like to consider “hope” to be when the SS suddenly dragged you out of Auschwitz and made you walk to Ravensbruck concentration camp, deep inside central Germany. Exhausted, malnourished, and with no proper clothing, imagine marching along with thousands of other Jews through the German countryside. Consider what it would be like to see people get shot and killed in front of you after they collapsed or sat down due to fatigue. Some people just sat down and accepted death as a means to end to this seemly endless cruelty.
Ultimately, Ravensbruck would turn out not to be any semblance of relief, because as the Russians began to close in on the Nazis, you once again were forced to move and follow the German retreat. Finally, after a year of this constant nightmare, including the imminent threat of death, the German SS abandoned you as the Soviet advancement came roaring in.
Imagine discovering that the saying, “My enemies, enemy, is my friend” doesn’t apply to you as the Soviets were no friend to the Jews either. The SS was gone, however, the Soviets were not liberators, as they quickly passed through and left you all alone to fend for yourself.
At 14-years-old, you and your 12-year-old sister, sick, and starved, had only a tiny shred of youthful innocence left that was now the only thing keeping you alive. Imagine having to find your way to Prague and city that you knew some of your relatives lived in. Upon arriving in Prague you discovered that none of your family could be found and so now you find yourself in Sudetenland. Thankfully, you discover other surviving Jews in Sudetenland, who will now become your new de facto family.
Imagine, in the age before internet or mass communication, it would take some time of searching and asking every refugee you came in contact with before you finally found out that your parents and four other siblings had all been killed in Auschwitz. The only remainder of your entire family was you and your sister. Consider, that six months after finding out the rest of your family had been killed, you would suddenly find yourself truly all alone when your sister died of tuberculous.
Imagine, that thanks to the kindness of strangers you eventually find yourself coming to America. A place you had heard about as being where people could be free. The nation that you had heard was responsible for coming in and finally ending what felt like never-ending physical, emotional and mental torture at the hands of wickedly evil people.
Imagine coming to America filled with a sense of genuine hope. In fact, this was honestly the first time in your life you can ever remember actually feeling real hope. Previously, the entire world you’d known was filled with nothing but utter hopelessness.
Now picture as you finally get settled into your new home, in a land that you will make your own, you discover that even in this nation that prides itself on being built on freedom, there are still people who hate you.
The United States of America, the land of the brave and the home of the free, and yet there still are people who hate you and want you dead, simply because you exist. Simply, because you are a Jew.
As disheartening as the discovery that, hate indeed, has permeates your new home too, one bit of comfort you can enjoy is that you no longer feel alone. Sure, there were other groups that the Nazis targeted. However, 1/3 of the entire world’s Jewish population had been exterminated and by far Jews were the overwhelming target of Hitler’s ethnic genocide.
At least in America, there were equal or in most cases more groups of people who were hated too. African Americans, Immigrants, Catholics, Hispanics, Muslims, and yes Jews; all faced hate and at times violence just because they were alive. So if nothing else, at least in America, you didn’t feel alone in being hated.
I’ll never forget, hearing the emotions that accompanied the retelling those horrific events that had occurred only forty-eight years in the past.
Now, twenty-eight years after I heard what it was like to be Jewish during the reign of Nazi Germany, I see on TV people marching down American streets, on American soil, waving the very flags that represented the evil that terrorized and killed people like me. I have to listen to them chant, “Blood and Soil,” the same key slogan used by the Nazis as committed ethnic genocide.
In the United States of America. A country that one side of my family has not only fought for but has served as commissioned commanding officers in every single conflict in the country’s 271-year history. My family has been willing to sacrifice their blood for American soil, for the belief of the American dream and that freedom was something worth fighting and dying for.
In the United States of America, in 2017 I have to watch people wearing swastika pins and shirts, “Sieg Heil!” People carrying signs that say, “Th Jewish Media is Going Down” – “Jews are Satan’s Children” – “Jews will not replace us.” During the Charlottesville protest two weeks ago I watched a video where a Nazi called a Black Lives Matter counter-protestor a “fucking Jew-Lover.” In another video, he called someone a “kike.”
In light of the fact that I have to hear people celebrating the ideology of a group of loathsome and morally corrupt people who murdered millions of innocent men, women, and children, it isn’t those Neo-Nazis that hurt and upset me the most. Rather, it is actually all of the people who aren’t flying swastika flags or raising their hand yelling “Seig Heil!”
No… the people I find most distressing are all the people who are willing to be complicit and supportive of these card carrying Nazis out there in the streets.
In the nation that my family has fought for; the nation that my family came to for freedom and called their home, it damn sure would be nice if:
When people are waving flags that represent the banner of ethnic genocide and yelling about eliminating Jews, the first thing out of people’s mouth wasn’t the blatantly obvious fact that people have freedom of speech in America.
When a man weaponized his car and ran over twenty-people, killing Heather Heyer, an innocent 32-year-old woman, I don’t want to hear “But what about Antifa!” The man who used his car to kill an innocent woman belonged to a group called, Vanguard America. Vanguard America believes that Jews are to blame for Communism, the pornography industry, and the corruption of mass media. Conversely, Heather Heyer was non-Jewish, white woman. She was out there that day and gave her life in support of Jews like me, African-Americans, immigrants or any other categorical classes of people that these Nazis hate. Heather Heyer was better human than most of you could even dream of being. You cannot even say Nazis are bad, unless someone agrees that what you don’t like is bad first.
When people are marching with torches in hand and chanting “Blood and Soil” or wearing KKK robes, I don’t want to hear about how “liberals are trying to erase Confederate history.” News flash, an important piece of historical fact that needs to be pointed out is that the Ku Klux Klan wasn’t founded until 1866. That was a year after the end of the civil war. The Nazi party wasn’t formed until 1920. Fifty-five years after the war between the states came to an end (in Germany none-the-less). Basically, if this is about the preservation of history, there sure is a lack of historical accuracy by the supporters.
When people are marching down the road openly celebrating genocidal ethnic cleansing, I don’t want to hear about how they’re all being paid by George Soros and a part of some liberal conspiracy agenda to rain chaos down on the world. In fact, even if that was remotely true, that would be all the more reason for some to condemn them. They would represent everything some people hate.
When people are openly calling African Americans the N-word and chanting death to all Jews, I don’t want to hear about how it is Obama, Antifa, the Alt-Left, Hillary Clinton, Establishment Republicans, Russia, or even space Aliens are who is actually at fault.
Ultimately, when Neo-Nazis are marching down American streets, killing American citizens, in the United States of America, I want to know why in the hell is every single person’s response not
“Nazis are not a part of what America represents! I will stand up against them just like our grandfathers did when they fought on foreign soil in World War II.”
I’m not even asking anyone to go to the extent as our past generations and literally fight or commit violence against Nazis. What I’m asking is why the hell is the first thing out of people’s mouth not rebuking Nazism on American soil?!?! Why? Seriously, in 2017… WHY!?!?
Do you need me to tell you first that any group who is radicalized to support left-wing beliefs is bad first? Do you need me to say that any group, including radical leftist, are indeed wrong? Do you need me to say I’m under no delusion that Antifa is basically operating under the same mindset as those Soviets, who defeated the Nazis and SS but still just left the Jews to die?
Do you REALLY have no discernible understanding why myself or others might vigorously condemn Nazis in America before they issued the reminder that ninjas wearing roller derby gear are not really the good guys? Seriously? Is it so polarized that you cannot understand why that might occur?
In case you don’t see why many would consider the very public rise of Nazism to be very concerning, let me tell you exactly why. It is because it wasn’t Antifa, the Democrat Party, Obama, Black Lives Matter, or even the Republican Party and Ronald Reagan that murdered nine million innocent people, six million of which were Jews, 1.5 million of which were children. No… It wasn’t any of those people.
It was people flying the exact same flags, adhering to the exact same disgusting ideology as the Alt-Right, White Supremacist, and Neo-Nazis.
These “Alt-Right” and “White Nationalist” groups represent a celebration and advocacy of some of the most violent and despicable beliefs and people the world has ever known. They should be considered the primary enemy of American freedom and there shouldn’t be any, “but what about…” coming from anyone’s mouth.
So while people keep talking about uniting the country and ending all the polarized angst amongst Americans. How about some people put their money where their mouth' are and show some willingness to support your fellow Americans against people who hate them and wish them dead. How about you put your own political beliefs to the side for a moment and stand up and support us first.
No offense, if you haven’t had your ancestors enslaved, chased down and lynched by the KKK, or rounded up thrown into incinerators and gas chambers; how about just accept you don’t really understand how some people might feel when they have to see men in KKK robes or waving Nazi flags walking down American streets. How about you accept you may not truly understand, but that doesn’t mean you are unwilling to say that will never happen to any of us again.