On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am very concerned when I see presidential candidates fanning the flames of animosity. In the ’30s in Germany, Jews were the target, but the dangerous rhetoric of today is focused on Muslims and particularly Syrian refugees. Like the anti-Semitic tirades of decades ago, many of the same ingredients are present in the speeches of candidates who hold surprisingly high levels of support from the American people.
It is an all too familiar recipe: Strip away individuality and wrap everyone in the group into an amorphous and frightening entity. Speak about what they will take from us and add in a strong nationalist sentiment that allows people to justify their hatred as patriotic allegiance. It was this lethal combination that sent my family to Auschwitz, my father to the gas chamber, and me, a boy of 16, to a slave labor camp where I was forced to build railroads on starvation rations. The SS guards were able to do this to us because they lost sight of our humanity and of our individuality.