Society – Frankfurt am Main – “It began with words”: Campaign against hate speech – Society

Frankfurt / New York (dpa) – With a campaign against hate speech, the Claims Conference, which advocates the enforcement of claims by Holocaust survivors, is remembering that hate propaganda in National Socialist Germany preceded the mass murder of European Jews. On the Holocaust Remembrance Day of YomHaSchoah, which falls on April 8 this year, the digital campaign “It started with words” is intended to make it clear that the Holocaust did not come out of nowhere.

While January 27 is internationally celebrated as a day of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism, “YomHaSchoah” is the day in Israel to commemorate the six million European Jews murdered by the National Socialists.

“You don’t wake up one morning and decide to take part in a mass murder,” said Greg Schneider, vice president of the Claims Conference, in a statement. “Hate speech, propaganda, anti-Semitism and racism were the roots that culminated in genocide.”

Eva Szepesi, who lives in Frankfurt, is among the contemporary witnesses from all over the world who report on their experiences in video statements. “The Shoah did not begin with Auschwitz,” said Szepesi, who was deported to the German extermination camp Auschwitz at the age of twelve. Her parents and younger brother were murdered there. “It started for me when I was eight years old. I couldn’t understand why my best friends were shouting bad words to me.”

“More than ever before, words of hatred are spreading unchecked and often unchallenged through the echo rooms of social media,” emphasized Rüdiger Mahlo, the Claims Conference representative in Germany. “We must never underestimate the power of words and must be aware of their consequences.”

“The recent past has shown that the path from word to deed is getting shorter and shorter,” noted the Frankfurt rabbi Avichai Apel. “The cancer of anti-Semitism has been growing particularly badly since the outbreak of the corona pandemic and is increasingly poisoning coexistence in our society.” Hate posts in social media are “particularly bad fire accelerators that have made life more dangerous for Jews in this country”.

The “digital swamp of hatred” must be dried up, demanded Apel, who is also a member of the board of the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference in Germany. “This includes consistent prosecution that also holds the operators of such platforms accountable, the courageous use of appropriate technologies such as artificial intelligence to track down the originators of such hateful messages, the obligation to use real names on the Internet, but also prevention through educational work in schools.”

The Frankfurt magistrate has meanwhile adopted the working definition for anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in order to be able to act more effectively against its forms of. “Anti-Semitism is unfortunately increasingly daring to move from the back rooms of our society back to the center of our society, where precisely that center runs the risk of watching the social boundaries shift through dangerous habituation to more or less subtle forms of anti-Semitic stereotypes,” explained the mayor of Frankfurt, Uwe Becker, who is also the Hessian anti-Semitism officer.

It does not take even worse attacks to find that we no longer have to talk about how to defend against the beginnings, but rather how to counter the spreading anti-Semitism more decisively. Anti-Semitism is not always easily recognizable: “Today, the variety and diversity of anti-Semitism ranges from right-wing extremist mob to intellectually packaged anti-Zionism, which takes the detour via so-called criticism of Israel and yet arrives at anti-Semitism, to culturally imported hatred of Jews.”

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210408-99-121996 / 3

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