United States Holocaust Museum Condemns Attacks on Jews and Other Minorities

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) has issued a statement condemning a National Policy Institute conference in Washington, where white supremacist leader Richard Spencer led the crowd in a rousing chorus of hate, complete with “enthusiastic” Hitler salutes.

And no wonder: this was the sort of thing Trump’s supporters eat up: Spencer “implied that the media was protecting Jewish interests and said, ‘One wonders if these people are people at all?’ He said that America belongs to white people.”

This is Trump’s message, a white man’s call to arms issued to rallies full of white people all across America. Look at the photo above, a 1943 Nazi propaganda poster provoking hatred of Jews and ask yourself: has anything changed?

Here is the USHMM’s statement in full:

MUSEUM CONDEMNS HATEFUL RHETORIC AT WHITE NATIONALIST CONFERENCE; CALLS ON THE NATION TO CONFRONT HATE SPEECH
 
WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is deeply alarmed at the hateful rhetoric at a conference of white nationalists held on November 19 at the Ronald Reagan Building just blocks from the Museum.
 
According to press reports, Richard Spencer, the leader of the National Policy Institute – a white nationalist think tank – that sponsored the conference, made several direct and indirect references to Jews and other minorities, often alluding to Nazism. He spoke in German to quote Nazi propaganda and refer to the mainstream media. He implied that the media was protecting Jewish interests and said, “One wonders if these people are people at all?” He said that America belongs to white people. His statement that white people face a choice of “conquer or die” closely echoes Adolf Hitler’s view of Jews and that history is a racial struggle for survival.
 
The targeting of Jews was central to Nazi racist ideology. The Germans attempted to kill every Jewish man, woman and child they could find. Nazi racism extended to other groups. By the end of World War II, the Germans and their collaborators had murdered six million Jews and millions of other innocent civilians, many of whom were targeted for racial reasons.
 
The Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words. The Museum calls on all American citizens, our religious and civic leaders, and the leadership of all branches of the government to confront racist thinking and divisive hateful speech.
 
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a living memorial to the Holocaust, inspires citizens and leaders to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by donors nationwide. Learn more at ushmm.org.

As the USHMM states, “the Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words.” And those words were not imposed from above but embraced from below. As British historian Richard Evans has observed (The Third Reich in History and Memory, 2015),

“Over the past decade and a half, Nazi Germany has come to appear to growing numbers of historians as a political system that rested not on police terror and coercion but on popular approval and consent.”

When you see a CNN panel debating whether or not Trump should admit Jews are people, you know we’re in trouble.

Make no mistake. This is where it begins. To enthusiastic cheers and arms raised in the Hitlergruß, or Hitler salute (literally, ‘Hitler greeting’). And by the way, Hitler too ran against corruption, and yet presenting Germany with a regime full of corruption. Like Nazi populism, another template for Donald Trump.

Photo: He is to blame for the war! The Nazis sought to provoke hatred of Germany’s Jews by transforming the popular perception of them from ordinary neighbor into internal enemy guilty of warmongering and betraying Germany from within. Mjölnir [Hans Schweitzer], artist; 1943.–Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC.