I don’t often write about my dad. Perhaps because reliving his daily existence was painful. But the rise in anti-semitism we are witnessing today requires answer. My father was a holocaust survivor who lost his entire family in WWII, barely making it out with his life. One reason he likely survived being in a concentration camp, if barely, was because as a Hungarian, he was one of the last to be captured. His suffering in the camps was a tale told to me daily when I was growing up. Always a sturdy, stocky man, after his imprisonment in Mauthausen, my father was a mere eighty-eight pounds. In 1945, too weak to stand, he was reduced to crawling out on all fours at the Liberation.
There was not a day that went by in my childhood that my dad didn’t scream for hours about the cruel human animals who had taken so much from him, from his family, from his people. Though he passed away when I was only nineteen, his tortured cries will always be with me. A brilliant and funny but volatile man, I’ll never know the life our family might have had together if he had not endured the horrors that he did. I blame the Nazis for stealing my father from me.
To now hear callous, attention seeking grotesques such as Nick Fuentes denying the Holocaust ever happened or Kanye West offering praise for Hitler should make the bile rise in everyone’s throat. Hate speech is not free speech. Likewise, the likes of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green equating having to wear a mask for Covid-19 prevention to “Nazis forcing Jews to wear a yellow star” is both ignorant and frightening. None of these privileged people have the first idea what suffering is.
One thing remains true. Those who bully and bray are always cowards. If any of these people had to experience one scintilla of the pain of Holocaust survivors, or any peoples who have likewise been persecuted, these cruel fools would be curled up in the fetal position, begging for mercy.
The passage of time does not lessen the cost of their lack of respect for, or acknowledgment of, history’s devastating tragedies or their baseless hatred of people about whom they know nothing.
Those who are not willing to reject their vile hate speech and prejudices in the strongest terms do more damage than they know, or care to know, apparently. They make it possible for gullible, ignorant people to echo their words or to think that by simply turning away, they commit a lesser sin.
We must all always stay vigilant, remembering that hateful words more often than not mushroom into, even encourage, hateful behavior and violence.
Anita – this piece is so well written! I’m sorry that you were forced to revisit that painful time in order to give voice to this insidious and growing movement that it is indeed, frightening, and horrific.
Thank you, Elisa. Those who lie can never be allowed possession of the field. The more people who speak up to call them out, the better.
Thank you for sharing and I’m so sorry for all your family endured.
The important thing is to never let these monsters have power. People need to realize how much suffering they can inflict on their own people, not only those they “other.” My father was a pre-teen in Germany during WWII, a conflict born from their delusions of superiority. While I’m sure what he endured pales in comparison to your father, he too nearly starved, suffered the trauma of air raids and witnessing mass death, and lost many people in his life. People were forced to join the Nazi party under threat to themselves and their families. The PTSD it caused plagued him the rest of his life and I also wonder what growing up might have been like had this suffering never occurred.
I too repeat “never again.”
I’m so sorry to hear of your Dad’s experiences as well. As you point out, the shadow projections that are responsible for those evil actions bleed back onto everyone.