In the wake of last week’s horrific violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, I, like most Americans, found myself asking, “How could this happen here?” Our country is not immune to domestic terrorism, certainly. From the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing to the 2015 murders of nine African Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina, church, we’ve seen more than our share of violence against our citizens perpetrated by our own countrymen. But this time was different. This time we saw hundreds of men armed with torches and clubs invade a U.S. city carrying a Nazi flag.
It’s been nearly 80 years since America sent millions of soldiers to Europe to stop the Nazi threat. About 300,000 of those men and millions upon millions of civilians died. Today, I have been asking myself how can we honor their sacrifice in the context of what happened this week. My answer is to share photos of art made by survivors of the Holocaust. I hope they will serve as a reminder to each of us that we cannot ever allow Nazi ideology to go unchallenged, here or anywhere else on earth.
Of course, these are only a few of the many, many paintings and drawings made by Holocaust survivors to document the horror and suffering wrought by the Nazi regime. Yet I hope they are sufficient to remind us that 80 years is not long ago at all. If it could happen then, it can happen now. We must remain vigilant, and fight hatred and bigotry with the most powerful weapons we have at our disposal — mutual respect, compassion and love.