Holocaust Memorial at the California Legion of Honor in San Francisco (Photo/Library of Congress-Carol M. Highsmith)
Holocaust Memorial at the California Legion of Honor in San Francisco (Photo/Library of Congress-Carol M. Highsmith)

Homes near S.F. Holocaust memorial receive anti-Semitic mailings

Residents living on San Francisco’s 34th Avenue recently received anti-Semitic hate mail directed at homes located on the same Richmond District street as a Holocaust memorial in nearby Lincoln Park.

Alex Zhuk received one of the mailings, postmarked May 22. Sent from the “Barnes Review,” the letter espoused virulent Holocaust denialism paired with conspiracy theories about Jews, and enclosed a reading list recommending titles such as “The Hoax of the Twentieth Century” and “Treblinka: Extermination Camp or Transit Camp?”

“It is hoped that you will all buy some of these books in this list and that you will realize that the Holocaust is a complete lie,” the letter said.

Zhuk, a refugee from the former Soviet Union who had known anti-Semitism in his homeland, said he had experienced anti-Jewish hatred only once in his roughly 25 years in the United States.

“Technically it’s free speech,” he said of the mailing. “But I wanted to alert the community about it.”

He described the full-page single-spaced letter, which was signed “Barnes Review,” as “creepy” and “sad.”

The Barnes Review is an extremist publication, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Founded by Willis Carto in 1994, it’s run by the so-called Foundation for Economic Liberty, which the SPLC calls both a ”money making enterprise” and “one of the most virulent anti-Semitic organizations around.”

The letter bore a Washington, D.C., post office box and said it was disseminated to “every address on 34th Avenue.” Zhuk said that a number of neighbors discussed the mailing on nextdoor.com, a neighborhood information sharing site.

It was also evidently sent to “every address” on Grove Drive in Los Angeles, where the L.A. Museum of the Holocaust is located, according to the letter.

The Lincoln Park Holocaust memorial was installed in a grove of trees outside the Legion of Honor museum in 1984. It depicts a man standing behind a barbed wire fence, flanked by corpses. It was created by sculptor George Segal and is maintained by the San Francisco Arts Commission.

The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, which hosts the sculpture, responded in a statement.

“These hateful mailings prove the necessity of hosting pieces like the Holocaust Memorial in our public spaces,” wrote Tamara Barak Aparton, a department spokesperson. “The Holocaust Memorial inspires empathy in thousands of our visitors each year and reminds us to be vigilant against the rising tide of anti-Semitism.”

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Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is a J. staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.