“I couldn’t say that Trump is a fascist because you’ve got to know what fascism is,” said Stephen B. Jacobs, a 79-year-old holocaust survivor. Jacobs refused to call the President a fascist because he doesn’t have “the mental power to even understand it.”
Jacobs, now an architect located in New York, was born the year Nazi Germany invaded Poland, 1939. His earliest memories are of his time working in a labor camp in Buchenwald.
“In my case, you didn’t eat in Buchenwald unless you worked. So I was given an identity card that said I was 16 years old,” Jacobs told Newsweek. “I was five.”
In his profile, Jacobs recounted his story surviving the holocaust at such a young age and his current fear for the modern political culture. “Things just go from bad to worse every day,” he said. “There’s a real problem growing.”
Jacobs warns that contemporary America is beginning to resemble the fall of the Weimar Republic. He compares it to 1929 or 1930s Germany, just a few years short of Hitler’s election to chancellor.
Both 1920s Germany and modern day America have been defined by intense economic and class disparities, which laid fertile ground for a brash populist to tilt the existing political axis.
“Things that couldn’t be said five years ago, four years ago, three years ago — couldn’t be said in public—are now normal discourse,” Jacobs said. “We thought our country had changed … we elected a black president in the United States! Look how far we’ve come!’ We haven’t.”
Jacobs claims to have been familiar with Trump long before his eventual run for the presidency. He said as an architect in New York he often encountered the then real estate developer and was often left unimpressed feeling like Trump was, “out for himself.”
Jacobs gave a brief piece of advice to the American public saying: “Fascism could have been won in Spain. It could’ve been stopped. But appeasement of fascism is what led to everything.”
In the age of Trump, Jacobs warns that his excesses must be pointed out and condemned. Failing to do so will let history turn a familiar corner.
Thursday the 12th is Holocaust remembrance day 2018 and will be internationally recognized as a day for reflecting on the horrors of the recent past and working to ensure that it will never happen again.
In 2002, Jacobs completed construction of a Holocaust memorial located in his former Buchenwald camp.