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Auschwitz Survivor Schloss Warns South Dakotans of Right-Wing Surge

Augustana hosted Auschwitz survivor Eva Schloss to speak Tuesday night. Schloss was in the death camp with Anne Frank, and after the war, Eva’s mother married Anne’s father. Now 90 years old, Schloss tours the world warning us not to act like Nazis:

“Germany was supposedly one of the most educated and cultured countries in Europe that people would follow such a bad man. and go along with 6 million Jews.” To this day, at age 90, Eva Schloss can not comprehend how Adolph Hitler rose to power, kept that power and used it to convince an entire society that racial scapegoating and violence were acceptable. “That makes me very very sad.”

…Eva feels one of the responsibilities of surviving Auschwitz is to speak as much as she can about what happened nearly eight decades ago. “We have to be careful that it doesn’t happen again.”

And for those who voice skepticism that a regime could put into place another holocaust in modern times, Eva tells me if it happened once it can happen again. “In Europe and America the right wing parties are getting more powerful so we really have to be alert and watch out that it doesn’t go too far.”

…She says she is hopeful that the younger generations will grab the mantle of leadership in a way that promotes diversity and inclusion for all in society [“Holocaust Survivor in Sioux Falls Worried About History Repeating Itself,” KSFY, 2019.10.28].

You heard her, young people. History is in your hands. Don’t get distracted. Get involved, get registered, and don’t let Nazis win the 2020 election.

Related Viewing: Here’s Schloss’s 2017 short address at St. James Church in London in April 2017:

And here’s a longer talk and Q&A at the Oxford Union in 2018:


  1. Audrey 2019-10-31 14:02

    We already have a holocaust here. It’s legal, too. It’s called abortion. 40,000,000 and counting. Holocaust: destruction or slaughter on a mass scale.

  2. Debbo 2019-10-31 15:56

    Eva Schloss is as great a hero as any military veteran because, at 90 yo, she is also fighting to save this country.

    Ms. Schloss knows things 99% of Americans don’t know and we’d be wise to believe her. It can happen here. There are Americans who would like the USA to be more like Nazi Germany. I heard an old man in Northfield say, “I think the Nazis had it about right.” 🙄 He was serious.

    These ignorant, frightened and cruel people exist in every state. The threat they pose to this great nation must be taken seriously.

    Even more seriously, some of our politicians foment white supremacy and other tenets of Nazism. Of course there is Rancid Racist, but there are others in the GOP in Congress who threaten civil war if their evil plans are thwarted and fight to enable Rancid Racist’s Hitlerish goals.

    I urge South Dakotans and Americans everywhere to take to heart the words and lived experiences of wise people like Ms. Eva Schloss. She knows more than anyone in Congress or the statehouse about the dangers we are facing.

    Thank you for your service, Ms. Schloss. ❤

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-31 20:20

    Ignorant, frightened, cruel people have it wrong, flat wrong. They pose a serious threat, as they did in Nazi Germany, and more people young and old need to stand alongside Eva Schloss, tell those Nazi-enablers how wrong they are, and demand they hand over their keys and let civilized people drive the country.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-31 20:31

    This post is not about women’s reproductive rights. Women’s exercise of their rights and personal bodily autonomy is no Holocaust. Opinions about abortion do not change the existential threat posed to democracy by the right-wing extremism which Schloss barely survived and sees resurging now among Americans easily distracted by false absolutes.

  5. Debbo 2019-10-31 20:31

    Audrey, are you okay with Nazis taking over the USA?

  6. David Newquist 2019-11-01 04:29

    We Cold War G.I.s stationed in Germany were given frequent presentations by people like Eva Schloss who witnessed the subsumption of Germany by the Nazis. The purpose was to make us aware of those social tendencies that make a holocaust possible. During the time I was in Germany, the political concern was, as in Eva’s time, a growing attraction of the young people to communism. It obscured a lingering nationalism which resented anything non-German, including the Americans there guarding against the Soviet threat.

    Eva’s story of Austrians suddenly turning against her and her family once the Nazis came marching in is a familiar tale. Anti-semitism was a festering attitude that Hitler tapped into. He didn’t create it; he manipulated it. The idea of a super race was something that pervaded much of the Teutonic culture and was transmitted over lecterns and pulpits and through neighborhoods. The gas ovens of Auschwitz were built with words and a mortar of malice and hatred. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer noted, the seemingly benign pulpit could be their source and means for generating the malice targeted against those groups designated to receive it. Trump uses the same technique as he maligns Mexicans and Democrats and brings politics down to the level of juvenile name-calling, malevolent lies, and abuse. Those who tolerate Trump are the same kind of people who forbid Eva to be friends with their children and who beat up her brother once Hitler gave them the courage to do so. Trumpists like Louie Gohmert and that baseball umpire are waiting for the excuse to open fire on the rest of us with their AR-15s. The Trump rallies shout “Lock Her Up,” which denotes the Trumpist dream of concentration and death camps.

    Eva knows the drill. One can only hope people actually listen to her story.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-11-01 06:42

    Good point, David. The Nazis used fear of Communism exactly the way Trumpists now use fear of “socialism”, even though Republicans themselves embrace all sorts of socialism (like the federal subsidies—wealth transfers from other states—that make South Dakota viable), and even though we face no threat from anything like Stalin’s USSR. Schloss rightly warns of the irrational fear right-wingers use to impose their thuggery and genocide upon us.

  8. happy camper 2019-11-01 10:53

    For sure there are some hysterical voices on the right, but we are a middle right country that doesn’t want Socialism in a strident form. That’s a completely legitimate conversation to hold without being demonized, but Cory is so right the public often forgets everything in our country that is Socialist that we embrace and take for granted. You almost have to pull some politics out of it because a Conservative probably wouldn’t forget that, but a wealthy Republican (or Democrat) lapping up the goodies just says yum yum give me more.

  9. Debbo 2019-11-01 14:05

    I’d like to read that Dr. Newquist, but there’s a paywall. Would you summarize it for us?

  10. David Newquist 2019-11-01 15:09


    Rep. Rooney whose district is around Miami thought the diplomats testifying before Congress were professionals whose word should be carefully listened to. He said as much. Republican party activists assailed him with charges of betraying the country, betraying the president, and all manner of odious defects. Rep. Rooney decided not to run for office again. Trump’s supporters refuse to examine Trump’s business record or to hear about his failures of character. The article points out the fanaticism of his base, who will force out anyone who listens to the charges against Trump.

  11. Debbo 2019-11-01 15:19

    Thanks. Yes, that kind of blind fanaticism is frustrating and scary when they are rageful. I’ve seen it too.

  12. happy camper 2019-11-01 17:01

    I would like to throw in something I read about Working Class Authoritarianism. After the posting from last week I read about them as an explanation for the Trumpists. Or lets say part of their core. I’m sympathetic to Blue Collar, but there can be an authoritarian streak there. It’s kind of a part of South Dakota historical makeup, don’t you think? Remember how Porter got pushed out of town. Wouldn’t that make a lasting effect, and it made me wonder if Deb met a lot of these types when she was younger, especially within the church. Although I’m a bit younger I know I was exposed to them. A very top down mentality which can come from left or right. Some of the literature went on to discuss this in both Germany and Italy very much affected by economics. From link: This desire for authoritarian leaders in American history has been seen before. Huey Long, a Louisiana governor in the 1930s, is a good example of how an authoritarian figure can rise to power. People will turn to an authoritarian figure when they feel over powered, as it was demonstrated in Louisiana.

  13. Debbo 2019-11-01 17:47

    HC, what link are you quoting?

  14. Debbo 2019-11-01 20:51

    Thanks HC. The 2nd link was especially valuable. I was not surprised to learn that fear is the overriding emotion for authoritarians, but the extent of that fear was greater than I expected.

    It would be very interesting to know what the authors are saying about the GOP now, 3 years on from the date of publication. I don’t think they expected the GOP to so fully surrender the party’s standing to embrace Dear Leader. I don’t think they expected the base perfidity of Moscow Mitch, Dear Leader’s chief enabler.

  15. Debbo 2019-11-01 21:03

    I almost forgot your question, HC. “it made me wonder if Deb met a lot of these types when she was younger, especially within the church.”

    The first thing that occurred to me is that several in every congregation wanted me to be the authority and deliver decrees so they didn’t have to deal with things. They were frustrated to discover that isn’t my M.O.

    I had people upset because they wanted “fire and brimstone” preaching, the kind that accuses, blames and shames. More frustration for them.

    There were occasions in a couple of churches where men didn’t care to have a woman in the position of authority.

    Last, in bible groups, older folks especially wanted me to flat tell them the answers so they could try to obey. They didn’t want to wrestle with working it out themselves. Ambiguities were frightening and they didn’t want to hear about that in the bible. They wanted black and white.

    Yep, there were authoritarians. It was perhaps more surprising that there were about an equal number of nonauthoritarians.

    I left the ministry near retirement age due to a since resolved health issue, not authoritarians. It was a great gig, awesome experiences.

    Does that answer your question, HC?

  16. Debbo 2019-11-01 21:06

    What makes one authoritarian or non? I think this is one psychology has yet to answer.

  17. Porter Lansing 2019-11-01 21:50

    Two people come to mind. Don the Con Trump and Neal Tapio. Trump’s father was a racist Nazi sympathizer and Tapio’s father was a cult church preacher.
    ~ In human psychological development, the formation of the authoritarian personality occurs within the first years of a child’s life, strongly influenced and shaped by the parents’ personalities and the organizational structure of the child’s family; thus, parent-child relations that are “hierarchical, authoritarian, and exploitative” can result in a child developing an authoritarian personality. Authoritarian-personality characteristics are fostered by parents who have a psychological need for domination, and who harshly threaten their child to compel obedience to conventional behaviors. Moreover, such domineering parents also are preoccupied with social status, a concern they communicate by having the child follow rigid, external rules. In consequence of such domination, the child suffers emotionally from the suppression of his or her feelings of aggression and resentment towards the domineering parents, whom the child reverently idealizes, but does not criticize.

  18. happy camper 2019-11-02 10:50

    These researchers think that Authoritarianism: “not actual dictators, but rather a psychological profile of individual voters that is characterized by a desire for order and a fear of outsiders. People who score high in authoritarianism, when they feel threatened, look for strong leaders who promise to take whatever action necessary to protect them from outsiders and prevent the changes they fear” best explains Trump. Questions about child-rearing to identify Authoritarianism have an amazing parallel to those who love Trump more than any other factor. The 6 minute video in the following link is illuminating. Thanks for sharing Deb those are things I’m not exposed.

  19. Debbo 2019-11-02 14:19

    This topic fascinates me. I always want to know two things:
    1. Why people are a certain way.
    2. Why everyone is not that way.

    I think science has done a pretty good job of answering #1. It’s not absolutely, definitively perfect, but pretty good. The links we’ve read, the comments from Porter are established and tested science.

    So, #2. Within one family, all raised by the same controlling, domineering parents, some children will echo those traits, but others will not. Why? And for those that do, can they be changed? The latter applies especially to our larger voting public.

    Regarding changing authoritarians to a less fearful outlook, perhaps a better way to look at it is creating an opportunity for movement toward a less fear based way of living. Fear based is a crappy way to live, shortens life spans, creates several health issues, diminishes quality of life, etc.

    Psychologists use a method called “exposures.” Expose the individual to a small amount of the fear inducing thing for a small amount of time. Increase both gradually as tolerated.

    How do we do that for authoritarians? They’re afraid of immigrants. Talk about earlier fear of immigrants, perhaps in some detail, especially the fearful things that were said about them. The real fears. Tell stories. Story telling is always most effective.

    These are my thoughts/ramblings.

  20. Debbo 2019-11-02 14:55

    Here’s a link to a comic that’s appropriate to our discussion:

  21. Porter Lansing 2019-11-02 15:15

    Are authoritarians afraid of immigrants or do they just hate immigrants or some of each?

  22. Debbo 2019-11-02 15:53

    My understanding of the science is that it’s fear of loss. Hence, “They’ll take your jobs!” [Spoken at a very high volume in a deep and thundering voice.]

  23. Porter Lansing 2019-11-02 16:06

    I see that written, too but about others.
    As in, “They’re going to take jobs from people” “What kind of self esteem issues do you have?”, I wonder. And, what kind of job do you have? Milking cows and shoveling manure for $200 a week?
    The facts get ignored. New Americans give more to our economy than they get. Period!!

  24. happy camper 2019-11-03 08:46

    It is fascinating, and if we accept the support of Trump is a reaction to fear, then we should ask how to soothe those fears as a strategy to lessen support for him, and well as simply caring about fellow citizens.

    Imagine trying to help someone wanting to leave an abusive spouse. They sit down for a conversation, explain how afraid they are of him or her, but the therapist’s reaction is: You’re so stupid. You’re so ignorant. You’re deplorable. Would that be helpful?

    I think it’s time, from this further understanding, to stop name-calling of Trump supporters. Are they all bad people? The researcher, Stenner explains they are acting differently for possibly the first time in their lives to perceived threats (real or exaggerated).

    Ridicule only pushes these authoritarian people into the arms of Trump or whoever else takes his place. She went on to explain in other articles and interviews how important it is for a political message, and she is from the left, to be inclusive. That in multiculturalism, for example, the message should always be how people are similar, not that we must embrace differences, because there are a core set of similar beliefs that she notes is truly necessary for it to be unifying.

    It’s hard to feel kindness toward a group of people who embrace Trump, but perhaps if you understand their motives it would help, and also to keep reminding yourself ridiculing them only further solidifies his base. Maybe you can’t make them Democratic voters, but it’s a win if they stay home or vote for a more moderate candidate like Mitt Romney who was mentioned in the other post.

  25. Porter Lansing 2019-11-03 08:57

    HC … Are you saying that the jerks who ridiculed President Obama – Obummer, Somali Terrorist, half breed, and the same who chanted “Lock Her Up!” deserve our sympathy? Payback’s are a bitch and these cretins aren’t getting a pass after what they did to the President we elected. Especially after Mitch McConnell stole our Supreme Court Justice.
    The best I’ll offer these political extremists is silence. And, not very often.

  26. happy camper 2019-11-03 09:21

    You don’t know those are the exact same people Porter. But yes, fearful people who are acting irrationally deserve empathy, and if it helps to motivate yourself, doing so is to get rid of Trump. Fearful people can act very strangely. Very few are going to admit, to anyone, including themselves, that they are afraid. Remember that a lot of people live on the edge financially and have almost no sense of security. Try to understand them. Jonathan Haidt gave a good talk at the American Psychological Association including his take on Authoritarianism and Stenner’s work: “What Is Happening to Our Country? How Psychology Can Respond to Political Polarization, Incivility and Intolerance.” 55 minutes

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