Never Forget Because It Never Left: Antisemitism Abroad


With  the events that happened in Charlottesville in August, the question on the rising antisemitism in America has been on the minds of most Jewish citizens. With white supremacists screaming “The Jews will not replace us,” as well as other antisemitic phrases,  there is an overall feeling that is starting to be reflective of Nazi Germany. To our neighbors across the ocean, many people view antisemitism as something of the past. However, antisemitism did not start or end in World War II.
The history of antisemitism in Europe dates back hundreds of years. From the Black Plague being blamed on the Jewish population, to Martin Luther’s “On the Jews and Their Lies,” to modern day antisemitism conducted by neo-Nazi groups around the world, the hatred of the Jewish population is still present. Adding to this the existence of Israel and Zionism, which is the self-determination of the Jewish people in the Jewish homeland, antisemitism in the world continues to spread fear into the Jewish community.
While in Europe, the antisemitism I faced wasn’t someone yelling antisemitic slurs or other obscenities. No, it wasn’t seemingly personal, but any type of antisemitism is automatically made personal for any Jewish person. I didn’t see or face any antisemitism during my time in Denmark. This is mainly to Denmark’s fight against the extermination of the Jewish Dane community during Nazi occupation. The Danish resistance movement, along with assistance from Danish citizens not a part of the movement, evacuated 7,220 of the 7,800 population and over 99% of the Jewish Danes survived the Holocaust. I felt safe in Denmark, even though there was only one synagogue in Copenhagen.
Germany, however, was a different story. I was able to go to Hamburg, Germany with one of my friends for two days and within the 48 hours of being there, I saw signs promoting neo-Nazi groups. Germany has tough laws against Nazi symbolism. These laws prohibit distributing Nazi paraphernalia and having them in public. This includes flags, insignias, uniforms, and slogans.
I saw the signs for only a split second on the metro, but it was enough for me to feel unsafe. It was jarring for me to see Nazi paraphernalia, to be faced with symbols of those who would want me dead. If I was able to see it for a split second, how many thousands of people had seen it? How many people had seen it and agreed with its meaning?
I was taught from a young age to “never forget” the atrocities of the Holocaust and I never have. I can’t think of one Jewish person that has forgotten the stories we have been told. We learn about the basic facts of the Holocaust in public schools, yet we aren’t taught the ever-lasting impact it had on the future generations of the Jewish community.
The amount of times I have been told to “get over” the Holocaust because it didn’t happen to me personally is too much. The horrors of the Holocaust are forever etched in my DNA and will exist in the DNA and lives of the generations after me. Antisemitism isn’t gone; it didn’t start with the Holocaust, and the Allied powers freeing the Jewish people from concentration camps did not end antisemitism. I face it everyday; I fear it every time I step outside my dorm room. Going to Germany taught me a morbid, but important lesson; no matter where I go, someone will think I am inferior because I am Jewish. But as the generations above me, I will rise above these people and survive, as survival is the story of the Jews.

Danielle Brundage is a senior with an English Literature major and creative writing minor. She has spent several months traveling around Scandinavia and is interested in the mythology and folklore or the world.

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