Amid the Rampage at the U.S. Capitol, a Sweatshirt Stirs Troubling Memories


BERLIN — Of all of the upsetting photographs broadcast world wide as a violent mob overran the USA Capitol in Washington, the one which notably distressed Dr. Eva Umlauf, 78, a pediatrician and psychotherapist who survived Auschwitz as a toddler, was of a bearded man sporting a black hoodie emblazoned with “Camp Auschwitz.”

“I couldn’t consider what I used to be seeing,” Dr. Umlauf mentioned. “It actually broke a taboo. I by no means would have believed that was attainable from People.”

That image made its rounds by way of social media and was identified in newspapers from Britain to Germany to Poland for example of who was within the mob that rampaged by way of the Capitol on Wednesday, and what they considered a spot thought-about by many as an emblem of a low level for humanity.

It had explicit resonance as anti-Semitism and far-right nationalism are on the rise worldwide. And for individuals who survived the Nazi demise camp like Dr. Umlauf, there was added ache with the conclusion that later generations could not have discovered the teachings of the Holocaust.

Dr. Umlauf was solely 2 years outdated when Auschwitz was liberated; the quantity the Nazis tattooed on her arm — A-26959 — is seen to at the present time. Her mom additionally survived, they usually returned to their dwelling in Slovakia, the place the daughter attended medical faculty. She moved to Munich within the Nineteen Sixties, when she bought married, and raised three sons there.

One among them married an American girl and moved to the USA, the place he has lived for the previous 30 years, she mentioned.

It wasn’t simply the sweatshirt, she mentioned. Seeing the home windows damaged within the Capitol, the statues defaced and lawmakers’ papers strewn throughout the ground symbolized a deep disregard for the democracy that lengthy served as a beacon in darkish corners of the world. “They trampled on democratic ideas within the coronary heart of democracy,” she mentioned.

be “As Jews, we tried to get our kids to America so they may reside in freedom and security,” she continued. “What occurred in that nation is just one step away from totalitarianism.”

The day earlier than the protects, an incoming member of Congress, Consultant Mary Miller, Republican of Illinois, praised Hitler for his marketing campaign in indoctrinating youth, in a speech earlier than the Capitol as a part of a Mothers for America rally. She issued an apology on Friday, amid requires her resignation.

For a lot of Auschwitz survivors, January is an particularly tough month, bringing again haunting recollections of the demise marches that most of the camp had been compelled on and of the ultimate horrible days earlier than Auschwitz was liberated on Jan. 27, 1945, mentioned Christoph Heubner, government vp of the International Auschwitz Committee, a bunch based by survivors to stop one other Auschwitz. That solely worsened the impression of the photographs.

“These pictures are sickening to these of us who’re survivors,” mentioned Eva Fahidi, who was deported along with her household in 1944 to Auschwitz, the place her mother and father and sister perished. “The concept that somebody would put on such a shirt on their very own physique is horrifying.”

That it was an American made it even worse, she mentioned. Though she has skilled what she described as a “renaissance” of anti-Semitism prior to now twenty years, for her the USA at all times remained an exception.

In any case, she mentioned, it was the People who freed her when the U.S. Military liberated in central Germany the place she had been moved by the Nazis and compelled to work at a munitions manufacturing facility.

“People and freedom, they had been one and the identical,” she mentioned from her dwelling in Budapest. “They had been synonymous.”

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, which preserves the location of the unique focus and extermination camp and educates the general public about its historical past, appears for discussions concerning the camp and the way it’s portrayed in public debate. When officers seen the dialogue concerning the sweatshirt on their social media channels, they weighed in with a hyperlink to a historical past lesson concerning the camp.

The controversy additionally centered consideration on websites that had been promoting the sweatshirts and different gadgets of clothes with anti-Semitic symbols or sayings, prompting individuals to achieve out to them and request they be eliminated, mentioned Pawel Sawicki, a spokesman for the memorial.

“1000’s of individuals additionally opened the web lesson concerning the historical past of Auschwitz we shared,” Mr. Sawicki mentioned. “So there may be hope that the controversial state of affairs can even increase some historic consciousness.”

Not each survivor was shocked by the picture. Marian Turski, who survived Auschwitz and a demise march, mentioned the experiences he had whereas touring within the Deep South in the course of the Civil Rights motion uncovered him to the racism and hatred harbored by some white People.

In 1965, whereas on a fellowship in the USA, he marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in Selma, Ala., and had his automobile burned in Mississippi, as a result of he rode along with a black man.

Whereas within the South, he mentioned, many individuals would ask him whether or not, as a Holocaust survivor, he thought that one thing like what occurred in Germany below the Nazis may ever be attainable in the USA.

“I advised them sure, it will be attainable,” he mentioned from his dwelling in Warsaw. “Nationalism and fascism weren’t solely German. Beneath the suitable situations and circumstances, it may additionally occur right here.”

He additionally advised them that one of the best barrier in opposition to racism and nationalism was the protection of democracy, he mentioned.

On Friday, he expressed hope that after witnessing the occasions of Wednesday, extra People is likely to be impressed to take motion in opposition to makes an attempt to weaken democracy.

“Occupying the capital — possibly this was an excellent lesson for the American individuals,” Mr. Turski mentioned. “Possibly it would strengthen the desire to defend democracy.”





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