Abe Foxman was one year old when the Nazis ordered his parents to attend a Jewish convention in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1941.
Her nanny, who is a Catholic, told them to leave the baby with her, expecting them to return a few weeks later.
His stay with Foxman lasted for years, until his parents returned. She moved to the United States in 1950 at the age of 10 – but her young experience never left her.
“I am a survivor, an example of where good words can lead,” said Foxman, 80. “My nanny risked her life for four years to protect and hide me, and gave me a fake ID.”
Abe Foxman and his young mother in Lithuania.
Foxman, a former director of the Anti-Defamation League, is one of the top survivors to join the new campaign, #ItStartedWithWords, which focuses on the origins of the Holocaust.
The campaign is led by the New York City-based Non-Profit Claims Conference, which works to protect the compensation of survivors from the German government. It is sponsored by the United Nations museums and the Holocaust worldwide, and was launched on the day of the Holocaust commemoration of the Jewish community on Thursday.
And a new awareness campaign comes as surveys show an increase in anti-Semitism worldwide, as well as a lack of awareness among adults under the age of 40 about the Holocaust.
The Claims Conference surveyed 1,000 adults and said that it was the first 50-year-old genocide survey between the millennium and Generation Z. . More than half did not see the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, and 11 percent believe that the Jews were responsible for the Holocaust.
“Globally, hate, demonism, degrading treatment, and we are now seeing Asian Americans,” said Greg Schneider, vice president of the Claims Conference.
“People don’t wake up one day and say I want to kill more people today, but it’s a process in which people are eventually dehumanized. That starts with words and ideas, ”he added.
A study published last month by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found that hate crime against Asians had risen by about 150 percent by 2020.
In a video produced by the Claims Conference, a former German community leader recalled that when he was 4 years old, he was not allowed one day to play with other children across the street at his home in Munich.
“The manager of the apartment came out and scolded me,” Jewish children are not allowed to play with our children, “said Charlotte Knobloch, 88,.” I didn’t even know what Jews were. “
The search for the campaign came from survivors, the youngest of whom is now 70 years old and is concerned that the Holocaust has now been forgotten.
“There is political inclusion, lack of truth, falsehoods, no consensus on civilization, no one listens to each other. All the rules were broken with respect and tolerance, ”said Foxman. “Sadly, 75 years after the genocide, this is a time to remind people what words can do.”