A woman who survived captivity in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II reportedly stopped by a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Chicago, Illinois on Saturday. The woman was identified as 100-year-old Joyce Wagner, who showed off the tattoo she was branded with at Auschwitz. She went viral this weekend for her inspiring encounter with modern-day civil rights activists.
Chicago activist Noah Toly shared a photo of Wagner and her tattoo on Saturday, explaining that she had sought out the protesters to connect with them. She voiced her support for the Black Lives Matter movement and reportedly condemned violent police. "They're all sons of b—es," Wagner said, according to Toly. "You should see what they did to my brother." Toly seemed to agree with other Twitter users who identified the woman in his picture as Wagner and shared other stories of her advocacy.
Standing for the protest at the corner of Roosevelt and Washington, and this Auschwitz survivor drove by to show her support for Black Lives. She wanted me to see the number tattooed on her arm. “There all sons of bitches”, she said. “You should see what they did to my brother.” pic.twitter.com/fvGD430a4Y— Noah Toly (@noahtoly) June 6, 2020
"It was an unexpected and amazing moment. I doubt I'll ever forget it," Toly wrote. "She really wanted the photo taken, too. I got the impression that she wished she could be standing and holding a sign, herself."
According to CBS Chicago, Toly an active member of the community in and around the city, looking for ways to share her story and remind people of the dangers of fascism and bigotry. Last year, the outlet reported on Wagner's appearance at Glenbard West High School, where she attended a performance of The Diary of Anne Frank by the school's theater program.
Wagner is the sole survivor of a family of 11 people. She wrote about her experience in a memoir titled A Promise Kept to Bear Witness. Wagner spent two years confined in Auschwitz, and she emerged with a strong moral compass, determined not to let these atrocities happen again.
"The Holocaust occurred because individuals, organizations, and governments allowed prejudice, hatred, and even mass murder to occur. Young people, you can create a new way forward," she told CBS Chicago. "You can be the change-makers who create a world of unity, respect and tolerance... Love is always stronger than hate."
Wagner's message did not sit well with everyone on social media, however. Many critics responded with shock and horror that she would compare police in the United States today to Nazi soldiers in World War II. She is not the only one to do so, however. Just this week, police in Buffalo, New York defended two colleagues suspended for brutality by saying that they were "just following orders." Many people on Twitter were quick to point out that this was the infamous defense Nazis used at the Nuremberg Trials.