Chills went through my body when I saw the pictures coming out of Charlottesville, Va. I saw the marchers with their torches. The Nazis. Here they are again.
I was reminded of how the Nazis came into my Polish city and burned our books, how they came in and torched Jewish homes and businesses. I was 13. Children like me could not go back to school. We were divided from our neighbors. So many people perished because a lot of good people did nothing.
I knew that neo-Nazis were here in America, but I was not aware after all these years, of just how many people are affiliated with them. I saw David Duke who so many years ago ran for public office. We must prevent people like him from ever representing us in government. We cannot allow this to happen.
Indeed, I am standing firm against the violence in Charlottesville and those who spoke out in support of the perpetrators of that violence. We must place the blame where it belongs. If the neo-Nazis would not have walked, this violence would never have happened.
We have a problem here.
I have no respect for neo-Nazis. I don’t hate them, but I don’t love them. Truly, I would like to change them. I would like to talk to them. I would ask them, “How do you justify the Holocaust? How do you justify children being torn away from their mothers, thrown into open trucks and watching as their mothers were shot as they were being taken away? How do you justify that I was torn from my school and thrown into a room with other teenagers, never to see my parents again? How do you justify that?”
I would ask them, “What are you fighting for?”
We, as Jewish people, lost six million innocent men, women and children for no other reason than that we were Jews. We can never allow this to happen again to anybody else — no matter their religion, race or nationality. We are the defenders of those who cannot help themselves. The Jewish people must be the spokespeople for the world — speaking out against hate and division.
Can what happened during the Holocaust happen again here?
I have concern, but I don’t believe the people of the United States of America will allow this to happen here. I feel in my heart that most people are kind and good and they will stand up for justice. They will never allow what happened in Germany to happen here.
I look at the rallies and all the people who are coming from everywhere to speak up — no matter what their religion, skin color or nationality. I’m encouraged that high-ranking military members stood up against the violence in Charlottesville.
We must be vigilant. Six million perished because of people like David Duke. We must make sure this will never happen again.
Paula Marks-Bolton is a Holocaust survivor who speaks at least twice a week at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills. She recently celebrated her 91st birthday.