An 89-year-old survivor of the Holocaust said in a recent video statement that the rise of the far-right in Austria, the U.S. and other countries around the world reminds her of what she witnessed growing up in Austria as the Nazi Party came into power.
According to Vox.com, the woman asked to be known only as “Gertrude.” Her story was posted to Facebook by Austrian Green Party candidate for president Alexander Van der Bellen, who made it part of his campaign.
“This is probably going to be my last election,” Gertrude said to the camera. “It’s not the first time something like this has happened…I am afraid of that.”
Van der Bellen is running for president against Freedom Party (FPO) candidate Norbert Hofer, an anti-Muslim extremist and far-right demagogue whose rise, Gertrude says, reminds her of 20th century European fascism.
“The people stood and watched while the Jews had to clean the streets. The Viennese people were standing, men and women, watching and laughing,” she said. “They [the FPO] try to bring that out of the people again.”
FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache has said that Austria will face a civil war if the country continues to admit migrants from the Middle East and other politically unstable parts of the world.
“I experienced a civil war when I was 7, and I’ve never forgotten it” Gertrude said. “I saw my first dead person then. Unfortunately it was not the last one.”
In 1934, Austria was torn by a vicious civil war that resulted in the Nazis’ rise to power.
Gertrude urged young people to get out and vote and fight the rising tide of fascist extremism.
“I don’t have much time left. But the young ones still have their whole life ahead of them,” she said.
At the end of the video, a notice flashes across the screen that says, “Gertrude was 16 years old when she, her parents, and her two younger brothers were deported to Auschwitz. Her whole family was killed.”
Van der Bellen and Hofer face a run-off election in December after nearly a year of wrangling with the Austrian courts over balloting irregularities.
View the full post and watch Gertrude’s statement, embedded below: