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Beck’s Lowest Blow?

In tarnishing Soros’s Shoah experience, Beck tarnishes the Shoah

Rachel Shukert
November 15, 2010
Glenn Beck.(
Glenn Beck.(

Glenn Beck’s spectacularly paranoid “documentary” that characterizes George Soros as an omniscient, Sauron-esque immortal who jet-sets around the world toppling governments and destabilizing currencies for profit has made its way beyond the ravening hordes of the Angry Elderly and into the mainstream media, where some very smart people are parsing whether Beck’s characterization of an elderly Jew with a foreign accent as an all-powerful warmonger with rapacious tentacles squeezing the life out of the helpless globe is anti-Semitic on purpose (after all, Beck has been such a friend to Israel). Somewhere, Joseph Goebbels is instructing his attorneys to prepare an intellectual property lawsuit.

I’m willing to believe that Beck is too stupid to fully understand the accusations he has leveled at Soros. But there is a far more disturbing (and less examined) claim embedded in Beck’s film, which has much farther-reaching and damaging repercussions for Jews than the easily refutable international conspiracy mumbo-jumbo seconded by the intelligence ministry of Iran. It is Beck’s characterization of Soros, a Holocaust survivor, as a Nazi collaborator who actively aided in sending Jews to the death camps. As a 13-year-old.

Because that is what Soros was in March 1944, when the Germans invaded his native Budapest: Thirteen. A child marked for death by a superpower, young Soros, along with scores of other Jewish children, was instructed to deliver deportation notices to other Jews. As Soros himself has explained, in a narrative most people find moving, not damning: “I was told to go to the Jewish Council. And there I was given these small slips of paper … and this list of names. I took this piece of paper to my father. He instantly recognized it. … He said, ‘You deliver the slips of paper and tell the people that if they report they will be deported.’”

After his father made the agonizing decision to split up his family in the hopes of a better chance of its partial survival, Soros was given forged documents and sent to live in hiding with a Hungarian official charged with confiscating property from the country homes of deported Jews. This man occasionally brought the young Soros along, rather than leave him alone in a war-torn city that the retreated Germans were beginning to blow up. This official, who confiscated Jewish property yet also, at incredible personal risk, saved the life of a Jewish boy, is a human contradiction that Beck’s idiot Manicheanism is ill-equipped to handle.

The experience of the Holocaust was death. Jews that lived lived at someone else’s fatal expense. You had a hiding place because someone else didn’t. You received an extra potato because someone else starved. Such was the unique cruelty of the Shoah. But Beck’s condemnation of a barely teenage boy’s route to survival (whatever you think of the grown man’s politics) amounts to an indictment of every Jew who managed to survive. So Glenn Beck is judging every Jewish child who hid with a Polish family and was taught to spout anti-Semitic canards; every Jewish man that mistakenly thought working as a Sonderkommando might buy him his life; every Jewish mother that smothered her screaming infant so that the other six people hiding under the floorboards might not be discovered. He is echoing the most pernicious claims of the more genteel Holocaust deniers that the Shoah was the outcome of some internecine conflict between two evenly matched peoples with similarly legitimate grievances.

I don’t know Glenn Beck’s life. I may have read Mein Kampf three times, but I haven’t yet been able to make myself crack open The Christmas Sweater. Maybe he’s had a hard time; he certainly seems to feel more sorry for himself than any Holocaust survivor I’ve ever known. But if his public displays of hysteria regarding Nazis and who is or isn’t one are anything to go by, it seems like, to Glenn Beck, the most legitimate victim of the Holocaust is Glenn Beck.

Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.