Holocaust education could help combat rise in anti-semitism, expert says

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GLENCOE, Ill. — In the same year the world marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camps, violent acts of anti-semitism are on the rise.

Dr. Robert Williams of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. believes a decrease in remembrance of the Holocaust at home and around the world is partially to blame for a rise in anti-semitism.

“Domestically we need to do more to ensure adequate education,” Dr. Williams said.

That education would include events like those of 75 years ago, when Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp on January 27. With that, much of the world began to see the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews on a mass scale. More labor and termination camps would be discovered as the Allies marched toward Berlin.

Even as we remember this history all these years later, attacks against Jews are on the rise across the world and here in the U.S.

Accordion to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 1,879 attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions in the U.S. in 2018, the most recent year with complete data available. That’s the third highest year since 1970. And in recent years, acts of anti-semitic terrorism have targeted Jewish communities in New York and Pennsylvania as well.

In addition to attacks, there have been organized efforts of distortion and denial. A recent poll in France showed that 57 percent of adults in France did not know that 6 million Jews died in concentration camps and elsewhere during and in leading up to World War II.

Williams was in Chicago to visit with the children of Holocaust survivors. He said more should be done in schools to teach children about the Holocaust, to ensure that history is never forgotten.

Thursday night the group gathered to reflect on the past and how to combat the rise of Anti-Semitism.

Williams spoke to the group as they met in a home on the North Shore.

Their parents lived through the Nazi atrocities.
Renee Silberman’s parents escaped the terror of the times in Eastern Europe.

“We have this group because we can support each other,” Silberman said.

She said she shares her story to kids in the area whenever she can.
“It’s words that turn in to the action,” she said. “Children of survivors were very aware of the dangers that could happen.”

Williams will be meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican in a couple of weeks.

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