Today, January the 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is the day that we, as a world, painfully recall the events of the mass Holocaust from approximately 1933 to 1945. It has been 73 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where over 1.1 million people were murdered of the 1.3 million people forcibly sent.
On this day, seven thousand prisoners were set free from the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, the most deadly concentration camp of all. The Holocaust itself took the lives of nearly 6 million Jewish people and over 14 million total Jewish, Soviet, Polish, Serbian, Romani, Yugoslav, homosexual, handicapped, and imprisoned individuals. The United Nations declares today the day of International Holocaust Remembrance to commemorate “victims of the Nazi regime and promote Holocaust education throughout the world,” as well as cease any denial of the horrific acts perpetrated during the Holocaust and prevent further genocide.
Today thousands of families grieve Holocaust victims. None of them imagine the same force of Nazism that murdered millions to be alive at this age.
Unfortunately, however, the neo-Nazism movement has been on the rise these past couple years. Groups of white supremacists who idolize the doctrines and actions of Hitler band together to make up over 100 neo-Nazi groups, to date, in America. With a white nationalist sympathist as president, many such neo-Nazi leaders have risen and expressed appreciation for the president, especially following the march at Charlottesville in August. Andrew Anglin, the founder, and editor of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website is an open supporter of Donald Trump and the resurgence of the brutal, oppressive Nazism ideology.
Anglin has had much to say about the Holocaust. In a 2016 article on an Auschwitz prison guard dying, he mentioned that “the day is coming when we’re going to tear down the hoax [Holocaust] memorial in Berlin and replace it with a statue of Hitler 1,000 feet tall.”
In reference to Donald Trump, Anglin said: “Our Glorious Leader has ascended to God Emperor.” He poured support towards Trump following Trump’s non-condemning comments of Charlottesville that took no firm stance on the clear issue of racism and neo-Nazism relating to the march. Regardless, it is more than evident that neo-Nazi groups take the president’s lack of criticism as permission to continue perpetuating hatred.
For instance, one neo-Nazi commented, in reference to Trump’s neutral-minded words, “he didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.” The lack of accountability neo-Nazis face for their actions only provides them with further entitlement.
Some countries, following the horrific events of World War II, created legal bars against hatred and racially-aggravated violence. In Germany, swastikas have been outlawed since 1945. Hate speech and antisemitism are illegal, and Holocaust denial is criminalized. In America, the Allied country that combated Nazis in World War II, neo-Nazi news sites exist, numerous neo-Nazis march violently and unhindered, and the flags of America and the Nazi regime fly side-by-side with no repercussions.
Many people, particularly those intimately related to the Holocaust or its survivors, are appalled by the new rise in hatred and Nazi-regime-like policies. Holocaust survivor Ben Stern is one such individual; he survived 2 ghettos, 9 concentration camps, and 2 death marches only to see the same hatred resurface on the other side of the world.
After his liberation from Auschwitz, he moved to New York in hopes of finding his freedom. He knew how influential and vital immigrants were to America, and bought into the American Dream of success and new starts. However, in the years following World War II, neo-Nazism had numerous resurgences. The events of this past year particularly disturbed him.
“I am 95-years old. I did not expect to live so long, but neither did I expect that the tail end of my life should become rejuvenated with the hatred that the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists, are offering. It is a tremendous stab in the heart that after all these years, I am exposed to another Nazi attack.” -Ben Stern
We say ‘Never Again’ the Holocaust, but we say nothing to the free-standing neo-Nazi groups, high-flying swastika flags, and openly racist hate speech oppressing the nation. Though today we remember the victims of the Holocaust and promote Holocaust education and future prevention across the globe, we also continue fighting a war that should have ended 73 years ago.
History only repeats itself if we refuse to learn from it.