Saturday , April 10 2021
In New Holocaust Survivor Testimony, Hate Speech Is a Dangerous Seed

In New Holocaust Survivor Testimony, Hate Speech Is a Dangerous Seed

So far, more than 30 videos, each a little over a minute long, have been submitted by Holocaust survivors. The videos will be posted each week on the Claims Conference’s social media platforms.

One of the first is from Abraham H. Foxman, who was born in Eastern Europe in 1940 and was saved from the Holocaust by a Catholic nanny. He immigrated to the United States in 1950, and joined the Anti-Defamation League the day after he passed the bar exam. He retired from the organization in 2015.

In his video for the campaign, he talks about the beginnings of the Holocaust.

“The crematoria, gas chambers in Auschwitz and elsewhere did not begin with bricks, it began with words — evil words, hateful words, anti-Semitic words, words of prejudice,” Mr. Foxman, 81, says. “And they were permitted to proceed to violence because of the absence of words, because of silence.”

Credit…United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

In his testimonial, Mr. Zoltak, 89, described visiting his grandparents in 1935, when he was 4, in the Polish village where they operated a general store. He remembered young Polish people standing in front of the store, “not allowing people to enter, with signs that said ‘Don’t Buy From a Jew.’”

Mr. Zoltak said he didn’t yet know what anti-Semitism was, but that was his first encounter with it.

About seven years later, he and his parents escaped from a “ghetto that was being liquidated.” He recalled how his mother, who sought help from friends and former classmates, would knock on their doors, only to be called “dirty” and turned away.

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