Nazis raus! — or Nazis, out! — was the scrawled graffiti on a building I read driving into Vienna two summers ago. The message was a sharp contrast to the city’s genteel atmosphere. The directive was clear: In the birthplace of Nazism, hate ideology was unwelcome.
That night, I turned on the TV to a vision of young men carrying torches, their faces contorted with rage while chanting anti-Semitic slogans. It was coverage of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. It wasn’t the first time Nazi sympathies flourished in America, of course. In 1939, six months before Adolf Hitler invaded Poland, pro-Nazi sympathizers gathered in Madison Square Garden in a so-called pro-American rally where police attacked protesters.
Europe is battling its own rise of anti-Semitism. The German government’s commissioner on anti-Semitism has warned Jewish men against wearing yarmulkes in public after a rise in attacks against Jews. The United Kingdom’s national human rights institution is investigating anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.
And, the depressing list goes on. This week, The New York Times reported that while NYC is getting safer, there’s a 64 percent increase in the number hate crimes reported from a year ago — 60 percent of those being anti-Semitic attacks. Then again, the newspaper’s international edition recently published an editorial cartoon with caricatures reminiscent of 1930s Nazi propaganda.
On Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth II met with President Donald Trump at an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when Allies invaded Normandy, effectively quelling Hitler’s war machine. The longest-reigning British monarch in history said, “The wartime generation, my generation, is resilient.”
New Yorkers embody a collective resiliency that we wear as a badge of pride. And that helps us stand up to what we know is wrong. Or at least, I hope it does.
As a lifelong New Yorker and a child of Holocaust survivors, I urge you to educate yourselves, your friends and your family to the dangers of unchecked anti-Semitism. I urge you to speak up and speak out, because it doesn’t start with a concentration camp. It starts with the normalization of hate.
And to anyone who thinks anti-Semitism has a place in NYC, I say this: Nazis raus!
Rachel Weingarten is a Brooklyn- based writer and co-founder of the RWR Network, a national nonprofit that creates Holocaust education materials.