Home News Amid the Rampage on the U.S. Capitol, a Sweatshirt Stirs Troubling Recollections

Amid the Rampage on the U.S. Capitol, a Sweatshirt Stirs Troubling Recollections


BERLIN — Of all of the upsetting pictures broadcast world wide as a violent mob overran america 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 imagine what I used to be seeing,” Dr. Umlauf stated. “It actually broke a taboo. I by no means would have believed that was potential from Individuals.”

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

It had specific resonance as anti-Semitism and far-right nationalism are on the rise worldwide. And for individuals who survived the Nazi dying camp like Dr. Umlauf, there was added ache with the belief that later generations could not have realized 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 Umlauf was solely 2 years outdated when Auschwitz was liberated; the quantity the Nazis tattooed on her arm — A-26959 — is seen to today. Her mom additionally survived, and so they returned to their residence in Slovakia, the place the daughter attended medical college. She moved to Munich within the Sixties, when she acquired married, and raised three sons there.

Certainly one of them married an American lady and moved to america, the place he has lived for the previous 30 years, she stated.

It wasn’t simply the sweatshirt, she stated. 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 rules within the coronary heart of democracy,” she stated.

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

The day earlier than the protests, 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 troublesome month, bringing again haunting recollections of the dying marches that most of the camp have been compelled on and of the ultimate horrible days earlier than Auschwitz was liberated on Jan. 27, 1945, stated Christoph Heubner, govt vp of the International Auschwitz Committee, a bunch based by survivors to stop one other Auschwitz. That solely worsened the affect of the photographs.

“These photographs are sickening to these of us who’re survivors,” stated Eva Fahidi, who was deported together with her household in 1944 to Auschwitz, the place her dad and mom 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 stated. Though she has skilled what she described as a “renaissance” of anti-Semitism prior to now 20 years, for her america all the time remained an exception.

In spite of everything, she stated, it was the Individuals 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.

“Individuals and freedom, they have been one and the identical,” she stated from her residence in Budapest. “They have been synonymous.”

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, which preserves the positioning of the unique focus and extermination camp and educates the general public about its historical past, appears to be like for discussions concerning the camp and the way it’s portrayed in public debate. When officers observed 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 talk additionally targeted consideration on websites that have been promoting the sweatshirts and different objects of clothes with anti-Semitic symbols or sayings, prompting folks to achieve out to them and request they be eliminated, stated 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 stated. “So there may be hope that the controversial state of affairs will even elevate some historic consciousness.”

Not each survivor was shocked by the picture. Marian Turski, who survived Auschwitz and a dying march, stated the experiences he had whereas touring within the Deep South through the Civil Rights motion uncovered him to the racism and hatred harbored by some white Individuals.

In 1965, whereas on a fellowship in america, 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 stated, 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 potential in america.

“I advised them sure, it will be potential,” he stated from his residence in Warsaw. “Nationalism and fascism weren’t completely German. Underneath the correct situations and circumstances, it may additionally occur right here.”

He additionally advised them that the most effective barrier towards racism and nationalism was the protection of democracy, he stated.

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

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