Holocaust survivor on protests: 'it has to be stopped at the beginning'

Florida Holocaust museum releases statement
Posted at 5:23 PM, Aug 17, 2017

Just before she turned 18, Rene Hammond, was sent by cattle car to Auschwitz where she would be separated from her parents before they were sent to the gas chambers and killed. 

"I remember it," she said.

Hammond recalls the story of being sent to a camp in Germany where she would have to march -- there she would meet a German man who helped her, her sister and four other girls hide in Poland until the end of World War II.

At 91-years-old, her sister is still alive too.

This picture is the only image Hammond has of her family after the Holocaust. 

Hammond is one of 250 Holocaust survivors in a six-county area of the Tampa Bay area that's part of the Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services.

They have a Holocaust Survivor program that helps provide aide and support to those in need. 

Hammond sat with ABC Action News on Thursday talking about the current events, "it starts out small," she uttered in reference to people marching in the streets with torches while chanting 'Jews will not replace us.'

The images of intolerance is something she thought she would never see again in her lifetime. 

"It has to be stopped at the beginning," she said, "we can't let it go on."

Hammond wants people to know in Germany Nazi symbols are banned, but here in America it's free speech. 

"It's really important people stand up to it, don't look the other way and let it go," said Hammond. 

On Thursday, The Florida Holocaust Museum released a statement on the relevancy of teaching about the Holocaust in 2017:

I've been asked over the last few days to talk about the new face of American white supremacy. While no expert in contemporary Nazism, I do not see a new face. The neo-Nazis of today marched through the University of Virginia campus, thrusting lit torches into the air while screaming racist invectives. Who could witness that scene and not immediately be transported to scenes of lynchings, pogroms and auto-de-fes of the past?

People throughout the centuries try to justify their own hatred and bigotry by exploiting the fears and prejudices of their contemporary societies, using the tools they had at their disposal to try to make hate palatable to the general public. The "new face" of fascism in America is no different. While they may refer to their narrative as competing or "alternative", it is not new. It is the same narrative of hate, coated now in 21st century clothing.

At The Florida Holocaust Museum, we use the lessons of the Holocaust to help identify the ominous echoes of history. We believe that the best way to combat prejudice and bigotry is to educate about the terrible consequences of unchecked hatred. 

The Museum says they have partnered with Eckerd College to present Frank Meeink, author of Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead. 

The forum will be September 7 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.