WASHINGTON – Last weekend’s “Unite the Right 2” rally brought white nationalists to Washington. Chants of “Go home, Nazis!” from protesters greeted them.
Two weeks earlier, Donald Trump Jr. drew comparisons between the Nazi agenda of the 1930s and the Democratic National Committee’s current platform.
In a time of political divisiveness, both sides of the aisle are quick to label the other as Nazis. But is the flippant usage of the term doing history an injustice?
“Nazis killed 6 million Jews,” said Israeli actor Lior Raz, a member of the cast of “Operation Finale,” the upcoming film from director Chris Weitz about tracking down and bringing to justice the infamous German SS officer Adolf Eichmann. “When you call someone who is a hater a Nazi … you shouldn’t do that,” said Raz, who portrays Israeli intelligence agency director Isser Harel. “You can call him racist, you can call him ignorant, you can call him fool, but Nazi – it’s totally different.”
A special screening of “Operation Finale,” which stars Sir Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac, was held at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington on Wednesday. Given the film’s plot and the venue in which the screening was held, the red carpet turned serious as actors discussed Nazism’s past and present-day ties.
While one should be careful to generalize any political party’s current actions as Nazism, it’s still important to remain vigilant, according to Isaac, who in the film depicts Peter Malkin, the man who caught Eichmann.
“It’s very easy to think of the Nazis as these monsters that happened to come out of some abyss somewhere, and now those monsters are gone,” he said. “But the truth is these were just people that had families – that loved their wife, loved their kids – and also happened to orchestrate one of the worst atrocities of mankind.”
According to Kingsley, who depicts Eichmann in the film, the only ones who have the right to speak to who and what constitutes Nazism these days are those who experienced it in its truest form: Holocaust survivors.
“They lived through a Europe that we have no conception of,” said Kingsley, who has spent hours with survivors while conducting research for the various Holocaust-focused roles he has taken on throughout his career. “You ask them to draw comparisons (to today’s political climate), and I think you’ll have a very interesting answer.”