Holocaust survivors horrified by hatred on display at Capitol riot

On the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, the hatred and bigotry that led to the murder of 6 million Jews are ever-present.

"If this happens in America, what will happen elsewhere? I'm very depressed as a result of what is going on," said Sally Frishberg, 86, who was just 5 years old when the Nazis invaded her rural village in Poland. She and her family survived by hiding in the cramped attic of a Good Samaritan. Other relatives did not.

"We returned to our home, we were the only survivors, there are no other survivors in my community," Frishberg said.

Three weeks ago, like millions of others, she watched in horror as protestors raided the U.S. Capitol, wearing shirts that said "Camp Auschwitz" and "6MWE," an acronym for "6 million wasn't enough," and it made her feel very sad.

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"The world is filled with hatred," she said. Even worse, she feels, few people took notice.

"If we close our eyes because it doesn't impact on us, know others will suffer and we will too," she said.

Sami Steigmann was just a year and a half old when the Nazis invaded his Romanian town and transported his family to a Ukrainian labor camp.

"They did medical experiments on me," he said. "The side effects I'm feeling the rest of my life."

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Steigmann was also saddened to see the images of white supremacists flaunting hatred of Jews earlier this month. But he wasn't surprised.

"We are in a very difficult period of time, the COVID-19 virus, however, there is a much more dangerous virus and that is the virus of bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred," he said.

Just two days after the insurgence at the Capitol, hate showed up on the doorstep of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan.

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"A Confederate flag was tied to our door in the middle of night. We found out the people who did it were Proud Boys," said Jack Kliger, president and CEO of the museum. "And what was interesting was they chose to fly not a Nazi flag, but a Confederate flag, one that symbolically represented a uniquely American form of hate and division."

Holocaust education is the goal at the museum — one shared by Sally and Sami who frequently share their survival stories. And Kliger said that brings hope.

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"That's the one thing I hear from survivors is it was hope that made them survive," Kliger said. "And I think if they could have hope, then we can have hope to make the world a better place."

Indeed, my grandfather Otto Delikat credits his survival at Auschwitz and other camps to hope and luck. To combat the latest wave of anti-Semitism, survivors say we need hope and action.

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