This woman who escaped Nazis is fighting them again

This past weekend, white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, marching with torches and displaying blatant symbols and clear messages of Nazism. Clashes with counterprotesters turned violent, and one person, Heather Heyer, was killed when one white nationalist rammed his car into a group of counterprotesters, injuring many and triggering waves of shock and grief nationwide.

In response to these horrific events, vigils and protests have been held across the country to show support for those injured and killed in Charlottesville, and to take a stand against white supremacy. At one such protest in New York, an 89-year-old woman showed up carrying a sign that stopped people in their tracks.

“I escaped the Nazis once,” the sign said in defiant capital letters. “You will not defeat me now.”

The woman holding up the sign is Marianne Rubin, and her story is truly amazing. As a child in Nazi Germany, Rubin, whose family is Jewish, saw Nazi soldiers storm into her home. “I knew something bad was happening,” Rubin told Huffington Post. “They marched in and they pushed me down. Then they pushed my father down, and I saw him lying there.”

When the soldiers moved on to an upstairs apartment, Rubin locked the front door. Her father wasn’t seriously hurt, and the family was able to escape Germany, ultimately settling in the United States. But not all of Rubin’s family was so lucky. Her grandmother was captured by the Nazis while trying to help other family members escape, and died in the Terezin concentration camp.

And now, three-quarters of a century after the war, and an ocean away from the country where Nazis first threatened her life, Rubin was shocked to find herself protesting a deadly uprising of Nazism and white supremacy.

charlottesville photo
Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla

Rubin told the Huffington Post that attending the protest was just as surreal as it sounds. “Afterward I kept thinking, why does this have to be done?”

While Nazi groups in the United States are rarely as brazen as they were in Charlottesville, the truth is that hate groups and neo-Nazi movements have existed in America for generations. Thanks to Rubin and everyone else who showed up to denounce white supremacy, who made it clear that while such hate exists, it is not welcome here and will not be tolerated.

charlottesville photo
Getty Images | Stephen Maturen

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