Troubled Memory: Anne Levy, the Holocaust, and David Duke's Louisiana

Troubled Memory: Anne Levy, the Holocaust, and David Duke's Louisiana

Troubled Memory: Anne Levy, the Holocaust, and David Duke's Louisiana

Troubled Memory: Anne Levy, the Holocaust, and David Duke's Louisiana

Synopsis

This powerful work tells the story of Anne Skorecki Levy, the Holocaust survivor who transformed the horrors of her childhood into a passionate mission to defeat the political menace of reputed neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. The first book to connect the prewar and wartime experiences of Jewish survivors to the lives they subsequently made for themselves in the United States, Troubled Memory is also a dramatic testament to how the experiences of survivors as new Americans spurred their willingness to bear witness.

Perhaps the only family to survive the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto as a group, the Skoreckis evaded deportation to Treblinka, by posing as Aryans and ultimately made their way to New Orleans, where they became part of a vibrant Jewish community. Lawrence Powell traces the family's dramatic odyssey and explores the events that eventually triggered Anne Skorecki Levy's brave decision to honor the suffering of the past by confronting the recurring specter of racist hatred. Breaking decades of silence, she played a direct role in the unmasking and defeat of Duke during his 1991 campaign for the governorship of Louisiana.

Excerpt

During the Great Depression, Governor Huey Long hired some of the best stone carvers and sculptors around to chisel Louisiana imagery into the state capitol. Looming 450 feet above the Mississippi levee in Baton Rouge, the art deco skyscraper fairly drips with historical references. Massive statues of patriots and pioneers guard the portal to the Great Memorial Hall. Inside dozens of historical scenes fill bronze panels on the monumental doors leading to the House and Senate chambers. High up on the walls a frieze depicts Louisiana in war and peace, including a bas-relief of the Kingfish going over plans with the capitol’s architects. The most popular visitor’s site—a plaque located just off the main hall, behind the elevators—was never part of the original design. Bolted into the Levanto marble wall near three large bullet holes, it marks the spot where Huey and his assassin were gunned down in September 1935.

Traveling exhibits are routinely placed in the Great Memorial Hall, but the forty Holocaust posters ringing the rotunda in early June 1989 set the stage for an improbable clash over the politics of memory. David Duke, the Nazi sympathizer and former Klansman, had just been elected as a Republican to the lower house, and the staff of then governor Charles “Buddy” Roemer thought it was important to remind Louisianians that the destruction of European Jewry was not a matter for debate. For years Duke’s mail-order business had been selling such tracts as The Myth of Six Million, along with an audio recording of himself discussing the “so-called holocaust.” “This stuff’s so sloppy … the whole thing comes down like a house of cards because it’s just bullshit,” Duke told an interviewer in 1985, and he went on to characterize the Third Reich’s most notorious killing center as an Elysian experience: “You know, they had a soccer field at Auschwitz. They had an orchestra at Auschwitz, and the band was for the prisoner’s enjoyment—pleasure.” As well known as Duke’s views . . .

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