Seventy-eight years ago, a wave of violence tore through Germany and Western Europe. Emboldened by the assassination of a Nazi German diplomat, Adolf Hitler’s paramilitary troops armed themselves with sledgehammers and axes, ransacking thousands of synagogues and Jewish-owned shops.
That midnight pogrom is now known as “The Night of Broken Glass.” Kristallnacht.
And on its anniversary, symbols of the Nazi party saw new light in South Philly as the nation elected its 45th president.
Donald Trump’s name, swastikas and “Sieg Heil,” the German Nazi Party’s victory salute, were seen spray-painted on the glass windows of Meglio Furs at Broad and Wharton streets. The shop closed more than a decade ago, but the busy street corner it occupies attracted dozens of people who had seen a photo of the graffiti circulating online.
Grace Palladino even brought her cleaning supplies, determined to scrub away the message.
“To feel comfortable doing this means that you think that you have some sort of entitlement or sayso to this neighborhood,” Palladino, a South Philly resident said.
“This s— happens in South Philly, whoever the f— this is, they’re gonna get their teeth knocked out,” she added.
Palladino blamed the hateful graffiti on Trump, the “monster that’s now our president.”
Another young woman, Amy Schiowitz, struggled to hold back tears.
“This is a f–ing hate crime,” she said, adding that she expects City Hall to respond. “This is not the type of city we want to live in.”
Palladino arrived at the corner around 12:45 p.m., shortly after city crews had power-washed the black spray paint away. But her sponges and cleaning chemicals didn’t go to waste.
Another block south, at Broad and Reed, Palladino and a group she was walking with discovered another piece of Nazi symbolism: A swastika spray painted over “Trump” on a utility box outside a car wash.
“I’m not allowing this in our city,” Dalice Shilshtut said, her arm growing sore from scrubbing with the purple dish sponge. “So if it requires vigilantism, so be it.”
When officers arrived on the scene, they said this was their third vandalism call that day. After responding to Meglio Furs, officers headed to Sixth and Carpenter streets, where they observed three cars and a home’s exterior spray painted with “Trump Rules” and “Trump Rules Black Bitch.”
Lt. Nashid Akil showed Metro several photos on his cellphone of the vandalism, and said police gathered “good [surveillance] footage” from the scene.
Police said they were unsure if the acts around the city were related, or committed by the same person or group of people.
Though the Republican President-elect denounced endorsements from many racist and radical groups, they still support him.
Last weekend, members of the National Socialist Movement, the nation’s largest neo-Nazi group, rallied in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at the state capitol. Party leaders said Trump’s campaign brought white supremacism into the “mainstream.”
“Some of the things that [Trump] is saying are issues we have been tackling for years now,” NSM commander Jeff Schoep said.
The Anti-Defamation League of Philadelphia issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying that the acts of vandalism coinciding with the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht “adds another layer to this already sickening act.”
“While we view this as an isolated incident, we cannot allow this behavior to become routine,” Regional Director Nancy Baron-Baer said. “Everyone has a role to play in combating bigotry – we must advocate, educate and investigate until hate is no longer welcome in our society.”