By ALAN SMASON
The personal fear and journey of a nascent documentary filmmaker from her ancestral home in Europe to the relative safety of the United States is revealed in “Never Again Is Now,” which went into wide release in late October.
Ever since she grew up as a child of Holocaust survivors in Amsterdam, Evelyn Markus knew of the danger of anti-Semitism. Growing up in what she described as “the most liberal city in Europe,” Markus could trace back her family’s ties for more than 400 years, but her mother and father were mostly mute about what they endured during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands.
While she did hear an occasional story from her mother, Markus eventually learned more fully of her parents’ struggle and how lucky they were, comparatively, through video interviews they granted to researchers in their senior years and through scrapbooks they left behind after their deaths.
Her father, who was a soldier fought against the Nazis before the occupation, eventually went into hiding in the country with his only brother, aided by sympathetic members of the resistance. Her mother’s family was interned by the Nazis, but they all miraculously survived on a death train, rescued by a group of American soldiers in the closing days of the European campaign.
Markus grew up and became a respected psychologist and Ph.D. She found a partner, Rosa Neegers, whose family was not as lucky as her own. Unlike Markus, Negers’ family suffered significant loss during the Holocaust.
Being Jewish and living as a same-sex couple, Markus and Seegers were hypersensitive to changes in their environment, which was both anti-Semitic and homophobic.
What makes the documentary so unsettling is “As second generation Holocaust survivors, we sensed a familiar evil,” Markus stated.
Markus maintained her work as a consultant to the Dutch parliament for more than two decades and co-founded the non-profit Network on Antisemitism (NOA), a think tank that advised the government on how to deal with a rising tide of anti-Semitism. In addition, she was a consultant to the Anne Frank House, specifically dealing with anti-Semitism within immigrant youth in The Netherlands.
Eventually, the anti-Semitic threat became more than the couple could take. A prominent outspoken Jewish journalist was targeted for assassination in a successful stabbing attack and, even more frightening, their home was painted with a pink Magen David. They no longer felt safe and immigrated to the U.S. and California, where they live now.
Markus was not alone. Hundreds of Jews have fled Europe from havens like Amsterdam and across France and Belgium, areas which were impinged by radical Islam elements.
“We understand racism, white supremacism and neo-Nazism,” Markus continued. “But what we don’t understand is how young people get sucked into white supremacism with video games and through the Internet.
She pointed to recent white supremacist attacks live-streamed from Christchurch, New Zealand against a mosque that killed 51 and at a synagogue in Halle, Germany on Yom Kippur that killed two.
“They film their attack and they stage it as a video game,” she noted. “That’s something new and also that they communicate comfortably with each other around the globe with the Internet.”
Markus also expressed alarm at how white supremacists and neo-Nazis are supporting each other through the Internet. The attack in Halle was reportedly financed by an anonymous donation, she noted.
Markus also describes in the film how she journeyed to Louisville, Kentucky for the final gathering of the 30th Army Division members who had rescued her family members. The lone member of the group, Frank Towers, had become the voice of the reunion and had invited Holocaust survivors and their offspring to join with the soldiers for the last time. Towers died on July 4, 2016 at the age of 96. (The CCJN covered a similar story.)
“Never Again Is Now” is a moving account of the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and specifically told from the personal viewpoint of Markus and Seegers with supporting film and video evidence to indicate the dangers of white supremacy and radical Islam.
The documentary is available now through Amazon Prime and in general release.