A sign posted in front of the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio bearing two phrases often used by President Donald Trump was removed after it was taken as a statement of denial of the genocide.
The yard sign, which the San Antonio Express-News reported featured the phrases, “Fake News” and “#MAGA,” had an arrow pointing to the marquee of the museum. “MAGA” stands for “Make America Great Again,” which Trump used as his presidential campaign slogan.
Groundskeepers discovered the sign around 7 a.m. CST on Tuesday, although the fog partially obscured vision of it. It was promptly addressed and removed on Tuesday morning.
Museum Director Ellen Ollervideze told Newsweek that while people who have studied the history of the Holocaust saw the sign as a clear denial of what happened, not everyone saw the connection.
“The officer that was exploring and investigating really didn’t see a connection between the ‘Fake News’ sign and the intention behind such a sign,” Ollervideze said. “That makes me even more determined to teach this history and explain how many people out there deny this history.”
She educated the officer on the significance of the phrase and explained that there’s a lack of knowledge about the undercurrents of anti-Semitism and dog whistles of Holocaust denial. It makes her want to “passionately pursue” education in schools and the general public.
While the sign was one of hatred, Ollervideze said it was brought to light because of the Muslim Children Education and Civic Center’s quick condemnation of it, proving the Jewish community also has incredible support and friends. The center was the first to put out a press release, and it rejected the sign’s placement as an “insulting, demeaning and dehumanizing incident.”
A man in the Muslim community was first to post a picture of the sign on social media, calling it out for being anti-Semitic. Ollervideze, who teaches young kids, told Newsweek his actions embody what she tries to impart on kids: “When you see something that’s wrong, do something about it.”
The Jewish Federation in San Antonio board chair Harry Levy told the Star-Telegram that it was an act of vandalism targeting the Jewish community. He added that the “cowardly act” is “doubly harmful” because it “laughs at the memory of all the millions of Jews who died in the Holocaust.” Newsweek reached out to the Jewish Federation in San Antonio but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Along with the sign being harmful to the memories of the 6 million Jews who were lost, Levy explained that it hurts the “precious few” who survived after witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust first hand. On behalf of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio, he condemned all acts of vandalism against the Jewish community and urged people to counter the ignorance with education.
“The ignorance expressed by the perpetrators can only be countered by shining the light of truth upon our shared history,” Levy said.
It’s still unclear who erected the sign, but Ronit Sherwin, CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio, said the message it was meant to send was undoubtedly a statement of Holocaust denial.
The police department was called to the scene for a “threat” around 7:45 a.m. CST on Tuesday morning, as reported by the San Antonio Express-News.
The Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio opened to the public in 2000. The museum currently hosts thousands of student visitors each year. When students come to visit, they’re given a docent-led tour that explains the history of the time period of the Holocaust. They also view a movie or participate in a meaningful activity, as well as hear a Holocaust survivor’s testimony.
Visitors of all ages are able to tour the museum at no cost. It is broken up into three primary exhibits. The first begins with the Nazi rise to power and examples of propaganda, and traces of the incremental steps that led to the genocide. The museum’s two other exhibits focus on America’s response and involvement and conclude with a contemplative area to memorialize those who perished.
This article has been updated to include the response from Museum Director Ellen Ollervideze.