History

Slow Burn Episode 3: The Holocaust Survivor Who Confronted David Duke

David Duke shakes hands with supporters who are surround him. A "David Duke U.S. Senate" sign can be seen farther back.
David Duke campaigns in 1990, one year after the confrontation. Philip Gould/Corbis via Getty Images

On June 6, 1989, Anne Levy got on a chartered bus to the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge. Levy was a 53-year-old New Orleans grandmother, and she owned and operated an antique store with her husband. She’d started to open up, very tentatively, about what she’d lived through during the Holocaust, when her family survived the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto.

Levy was getting on that bus to go to an exhibit showing the history of the Holocaust in photographs. She wasn’t expecting to get involved in any kind of conflict that day. But then Levy saw someone she didn’t expect to see.

“I noticed David Duke coming in,” Levy said. “And I couldn’t imagine what he was doing there.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, had brought its exhibit to Baton Rouge because of David Duke. Duke had just been elected to the state House, and he had a history of calling the Holocaust a hoax. The images on display at the state Capitol refuted his core beliefs. They showed, very starkly, what exactly Holocaust deniers were denying.

Levy had been following Duke’s rise to power with increasing horror. She wasn’t sure why he’d come to the Louisiana Capitol—maybe he wanted to prove he couldn’t be intimidated by a bunch of Jews. Whatever the reason, she wanted to keep an eye on him. Their confrontation that day would make headlines. Listen to her recount the moment.

"He had the same mannerism as Hitler’s henchmen."

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