Photo Credit: Jih@d
The photograph that got three neo-Nazis booted from the French Army.

“Why do you insist on living in the past? People need to get over the Holocaust and stop being victims.” These are just two of many comments I have frequently heard as I have written and spoken of the Holocaust. My goal in doing so is not to promote victim mentality or dwell on just one part of our world’s recent history. Instead, I do everything within my power to keep this history alive to prevent it from happening again. If writing and speaking of an event that happened so many years ago can raise awareness of the danger of current attitudes and actions, then I will never stop being vocal.

Many feel that such heinous crimes could never happen again in today’s civilized society, but we must remember that Germany was also civilized in the 1930s and 40s. Additionally, recent headlines show that the same attitudes and actions exist and are escalating now as existed at the time of the Holocaust. Here are just ten of the ways that history is beginning to repeat itself.

  1. Jews asked to register or be deported

This past April in the city of Donetsk in the Ukraine, Jewish citizens over aged sixteen and older were asked to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities to register a list of the property they own and pay a registration fee. The demand came at the hands of a militant group that has taken over the city in support of Russia. Delivered in the form of leaflets as Jews exited their synagogue, the written notice also stated that they needed to register their religion, and threatened confiscation of their property and deportation if they did not comply.

The Pro-Russian militant leader, Denis Pushilin, insisted that despite the leaflet’s distribution under the name of his organization, he was not connected to the action. Local Rabbi Shmuel Kaminezki was quick to assure the Jewish community that they did not have to comply, and they have not. The legitimacy of the leaflets has been questioned from the beginning, and has been treated by the Jews as not real. However, the frightening part is that anyone can imitate the actions of the Nazis during World War II when the Ukrainian Jews did in fact have to register, and most were deported to camps and/or murdered at Babi Yar by the Einsatzgruppen as a result. This clear attempt to terrify current Jewish residents clearly shows that the acts of history can be repeated.

2. Nazi-type candidates elected into office

One would think that following the Holocaust, voters would avoid Nazi-reminiscent candidates at all costs. Even those originally supportive of the Nazis in WWII, seemed to pay a heavy price for their support in the long run. Yet, in Dortmund, Germany, Siegfried Borchardt, also known as SS-Siggi, ran on an anti-immigration “Germany for Germans” agenda (an agenda of the far-right) and won a seat on the city council in May, despite the shock and upset of many of the residents. Additionally, the Neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany, or N.P.D now holds a seat in the European Parliament and in two German state Parliaments. This particular political party follows the Nazi ideology of National Socialism. Furthermore, the main spokesman of the Golden Dawn party of Greece has a Swastika tattoo. Described as openly neo-Nazi, they won almost 10% of the vote. They used the slogan “So we can rid this land of filth” when they campaigned in 2012, and they have put their slogans on mosques and synagogues, but they claim they are not Neo-Nazi, and now they hold three seats in Parliament. Frighteningly, these are just a few of many far-right groups that are against immigration and in favor of “purifying” their countries much as Hitler wanted to do in Europe by promoting his ideas of a pure Aryan society.

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Debbie Callahan is a 9th and 10th grade English teacher and college adjunct instructor of Writing. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Language/Literature, a Master’s Degree in Education, and is in A.B.D. status for a Doctorate in Teacher Leadership. Recently, she has returned to her true passion of freelance writing and editing, while writing two books of her own on education reform and a memoir of a Holocaust survivor.