Story at a glance

  • Recording video messages relaying their personal survival stories from the Holocaust, survivors have launched the #ItStartedWithWords campaign.
  • Six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.
  • Acts of anti-Semitism have been on the rise in recent years.

Anti-Semitic incidents hit an all-time high between 2015 and 2019, with a further rise in anti-Semitism amid the pandemic. Now, Holocaust survivors are fighting back through a social media campaign.

Recording video messages relaying their personal survival stories from the Holocaust, survivors have launched the #ItStartedWithWords campaign.

The project aims to educate people about how the Holocaust began: with a horrifying and deceptive campaign by the Nazis to dehumanize Jews.


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Years before the Nazis established the death camps where Jews and other minorities were ushered to their deaths, there were leaflets, books and propaganda campaigns.

Charlotte Knobloch, born in Munich in 1932, detailed how one day, her neighbors stopped allowing their children to play with her or other Jews.

“I was 4 years old,” Knobloch said. “I didn’t even know what Jews were.”

Six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

#ItStartedWithWords was launched by New York’s Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and has the backing of numerous other organizations, including the United Nations.

An Israeli study recently found that while there have been less violent attacks on Jews amid the pandemic, seemingly a product of quarantines, much of it has turned to vitriol spewed online.

The United States, among other countries, has had numerous instances of anti-Semitism in recent years. 

In 2018, there was a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, which left seven dead and six injured, not including the gunman.

During the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol, a man was pictured wearing a sweatshirt that read, “Camp Auschwitz: Work Brings Freedom.”

“There aren’t too many of us going out and speaking anymore, we’re few in numbers but our voices are heard,” Sidney Zoltak, an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor from Poland, told The Associated Press. 

“We are not there to tell them stories that we read or that we heard — we are telling facts, we are telling what happened to us and to our neighbors and to our communities. And I think that this is the strongest possible way.”


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Published on Apr 08, 2021