Donald Trump may be a new Hitler. Take it from someone who knows – Anne Frank’s stepsister, Eva Schloss. Anne Frank’s diary of her life spent in hiding from Nazi forces during World War II has become required reading for many high school students. She died in Bergen-Belsen, one of Hitler’s death camps, in February of 1945 – 71 years ago this month – only weeks before the camp was liberated, a victim of Hitler’s campaign to exterminate Jews. What makes her stepsister Schloss, now 86, compare Trump to Hitler?
For one thing, Trump has proposed that Muslims wear special identifying badges… In Nazi Germany, Jews were forced to wear six-pointed stars just like this. Trump urges registering Muslims in special databases so they can be easily monitored – Hitler required Jews to register with the Reich for the same purpose. In addition, Trump has suggested mass deportation of Muslims and refugees from the conflict in Syria – In Nazi Germany, Jews were rounded up and sent to death camps. Trump enjoys the support of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, often retweeting their ideas on his Twitter account so they get greater circulation. His supporters also often encourage their children to sing propaganda songs, eerily echoing the Hitler Youth and other fascist regimes.
These attempts to isolate, classify, and dehumanize Muslims and Syrian refugees are indicative of some of the danger signals of genocide. “We were treated as if we had come from the moon,” Schloss said of her experiences during World War II. Yet Jews had been assimilated into the culture and were also European. “I was shocked that I wasn’t accepted like an ordinary person.” She believes Syrian refugees have an even harder time of it because they come from a very different culture. Speaking on International Holocaust Memorial day recently, she urged all countries to open their doors to Syrian refugees. “Fewer people would have died in the Holocaust if the world had accepted more Jewish refugees,” she said. “This is not just a European problem, it’s a global problem.”
And Trump isn’t the only presidential candidate bent on dehumanizing Syrian refugees. Ben Carson recently referred to the refugees as “rabid dogs.” The parallels between Trump and Hitler are chilling. Hitler was considered a crackpot by many Germans and Europeans, yet in the bleak time after World War I and the Great Depression, he rose to power partly on the basis of his vilification of one segment of the population and his encouragement of hatred.
“If Donald Trump become the next president of the U.S. it would be a complete disaster,” Schloss said. “I think he is acting like another Hitler by inciting racism.” Trump’s words may not lead to acts of genocide if he is elected. They may simply be a way of stirring up interest and standing out from the crowd. But the danger is there, and Americans would be well-served to be concerned.