“What I want you to take away from my life story is just how important it is to defend your freedom, at all costs. Experience has shown me that if you lose your freedom, you are condemned to fail.” (Leon Schgrin – Holocaust Survivor)
For many individuals of Jewish faith, Anti-Semitism presents a stark reality of cruel injustice that has continued throughout history. Ponder the endless clash of Judaism vs. Christianity concerning the holy presence of God and Jesus Christ. Think of the coldly systematic extermination of over 6,000, 000 Jews in war torn Europe. Or imagine the Nazi induced fears of Anne Frank and her Jewish family hiding in an Amsterdam attic to maintain their daily survival. Some racist conspiracy advocates even deny that the “Holocaust” ever took place. Click on the link below for a more detailed video documentation of Anti Semitism throughout European history.
Clearly, Anti-Semitism presents a serious problem in many countries throughout the world today as well. Witness the anti-Jewish hatred expressed in “right wing” political rallies or examine the ominous statistical trends of such prejudice rendered in the pictures below. Oddly, however, I have rarely seen evidence of such blatant racism in my daily life routine in suburban South Florida. In fact, my friends/acquaintances with solidly Jewish roots excel in religious, business, and educational careers. While I thus conceded my own naïveté on this subject, I deeply desired to gain a more focused perspective about this historically human tragedy by way of my world travels.
My Fall 2018 tourist visits to three history museums in Italy and France thus revealed the incidence of Anti- Semitism more intensely. The resultant blog entry here intends primarily to serve here as an informational tool for my readers to understand the serious nature of this enduring problem. I also hope that social media interest in my blog provides momentum for supporting policies of political action to fight back against this rising scourge of Anti Semitism in the United States today.
Rome Italy – Historical Museum of the Liberation of Rome
Picture an Italian residence standing inconspicuously on a side street leading away from the bustling center of Rome. Transform this house into a secretive Nazi facility of black darkened windows and walled up interrogation rooms designed for systematic torture and ultimate deportation to death for thousands of Jews during World War II. Such heinous crimes of Anti- Semitic inhumanity were exhibited in full display on my recent visit to Rome this past September. Lining the halls along our tour of the facility, I noted the chilling presence of official, Anti – Jewish manifestos, death order records, as well as wall charts branding Jews with inferior yellow star status. Such evidence indicated a ruthless Nazi resolve to complete their Holocaust mission in war-torn Europe at that time.
Turckheim, France (Alsace Lorraine) – Musee Du Memorial des Combats
The quaint medieval town of Turckheim appeared at first glance on our recent visit as a “fairy tale” land of bright flowered cottages, intimate French cafes , and inviting cobblestone passageways. Yet Turckheim lies in the strategically valuable plains of Alsace -Lorraine, a politically contested area historically belonging to both Germany and France. As Allied troops in World War II fought Nazi armies to free Alsace from German occupation, a murderous reign of Jewish arrests and Nazi camp deportations took place from here and in the more populated surrounding cities of Colmar and Strasbourg.
As I descended to a small cellar now functioning as a small museum in the center of town, I learned that this place had functioned as a dismal shelter of refuge for town residents from the surrounding war battleground in 1944-1945. I thus imagined the Nazi Anti Semitism factor surfacing at the time while families lived in fear here without electricity and water here while sleeping on dark and dirty floors to avoid enemy detection. As I photographed a vast collection of Nazi weaponry/pro- Hitler artifacts in prominent display here, I logically reasoned then that such Jewish fears were justified.
Paris , France – The Shoah Memorial/Holocaust Museum
The Marais district of Paris exists today as a bustling center of activity for the Judaism faith. Jewish children busily scurry to Hebrew school. An orthodox rabbi sits quietly on a bench to recite his lines for his latest sermon. A Jewish family informally gathers together at home for “Shabbat” meal at Friday sunset. Such freedoms to learn, worship, and assemble seemed miraculous in view of the human atrocities resulting from Anti- Semitism observed at the Memorial de la Shoah on our most recent visit.
As a relatively recent addition to the Marais district in 2005, the Shoah induced me to feel shock and hope with respect to the Anti- Semitism problem. Along the exterior of the facility, the extensive list of Holocaust names inscribed on the “Wall Of Remembrance” certainly provided overwhelming negative outrage. In the interior galleries, the presence of Nazi storage cabinets containing personal documents/ physical object collections of Holocaust victims as well as adjoining photo collages of Jewish victims equally repulsed me then.
More positively, I now realized that the egregious evils of Anti-Semitism so graphically exposed at the Shoah provided a valuable educational tool to inspire new generations to change such prejudicial thinking. For new leaders would be discovered at ongoing workshops, debates, and conferences… offered at this museum to instill new optimism that these historic evils of Anti-Semitism would never again be repeated.