Holocaust survivor Fritzie Fritzshall, Cardinal Blase Cupich share hate speech concerns

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Holocaust survivor Fritzie Fritzshall and her close friend Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich gathered at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie Thursday to share a message about hate and prejudice.

April marks both genocide and Holocaust remembrance, and both Fritzshall and Cardinal Cupich said they want people to learn from the past as we take in all we've experienced over this past year and think about where we're going.

Nearly, two years ago, Fritzshall shared her personal story at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where as a teenager she survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camp during World War II. Now, she's determined to speak out regarding where we are in this time of racial, religious and political self-evaluation.

"Are we getting any closer to where we should be?" Alan Krashesky asked.

"No, I think we're further away," she answered.

Fritzshall points to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, where one man wore a shirt proclaiming "Camp Auschwitz" as pictured in his federal criminal complaint.

"That made my stomach turn," Fritzshall said. "Why do they have to still wear t-shirts about hatred and stuff like that? That's what the Nazis did. That's exactly what they did."

"It was obscene! Obscene!" said Cardinal Cupich. "That kind of action should be totally condemned. It's really repugnant."

They emphasized people must fight back about other forms of language and labelling as well.

This week, in court documents, federal prosecutors alleged that Chicago Alderman Ed Burke was heard using anti-Semitic language while being secretly recorded.

"You don't think other people have heard it? You don't think it's going to be repeated? It will, and this is how it starts, hatred like that," said Fritzshall.

"Anytime there is speech that treats people as 'other,' we begin to go down a difficult and dangerous road," Cardinal Cupich said.

Ald. Burke did not respond to ABC7 requests for comment.

These two friends -- the Roman Catholic Cardinal and the Jewish survivor of the Holocaust -- believe that there is hope rising in the voices of young people in the streets who against injustice based on the color of one's skin or beliefs. That kind of potential change begins at home.

"We've all been guilty about saying things about other people in our home and we think our children don't hear us. They hear us," Fritzshall said.

"Words matter and we have to make sure that we tell young people when they hear hate speech and speech that derides other people, that they have to be willing to speak up and stop it.," said Cardinal Cupich.
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