ABOUT THE PROJECT
In recent years hatred has dominated headlines and national conversation unlike anything seen for decades – a chilling wake up call for those that had convinced themselves such days were behind us.
With hate crimes and hate group activity in ascendancy, and an alarming vitriolic shift in public discourse around issues of race and nationalism, the question so many seem to be asking is “how did we get here, and how do we turn back the tide?”
Tony McAleer has spent over a decade helping others to understand the dynamics of hate. He should know: in the 1980s, he was deeply involved in the neo-Nazi White Aryan Resistance, anti-immigrant activism, Holocaust denial and street violence. In the 1990s, he attracted increasing notoriety through a series of publicity stunts and by running a white supremacist phone line.
His pathway back was a long, lonely and difficult one – an experience that led to him and a small group of other formers to create the organization Life After Hate in order to help others exit hate groups with more support and greater success.
Throughout, Tony has sought ways to deepen his commitment to his work against racism, anti-Semitism, and white nationalism. Most recently, in order to develop a more profound connection to those he used to denounce, and to continue to reconcile and atone for his past actions – he decided it was finally time to visit Auschwitz.
Poland stands as a sobering reminder of the unspeakable crimes against humanity that hate can lead to, when left unchallenged. Not merely in the unfathomable atrocities and deprivation of the camps of Auschwitz, or the cold and mechanized extermination of Birkenau, but as felt acutely in the very fabric of Poland’s cities themselves. Most conspicuous is the utter absence of Jews in both Warsaw and Krakow – prior to WWII, along with Budapest, cities with the highest population of Jews in Europe. With this in mind, Tony felt it imperative to explore beyond the camps as part of his journey, and bear witness to the void. While Krakow still contains solemn remnants of Jewish culture and architecture, Warsaw, in stark contrast, stands as testament to the successful eradication of an entire people - the inevitable outcome of the racist philosophy he once espoused. With Poland, there exists no more powerfully poignant & cinematic ground for these all-important conversations about hatred and hate group activity to take place, questions to be asked, and stories to be told and examined.
As an anti-hate activist, Tony McAleer has demonstrated, time and time again, the transformative and healing power of his personal story – a story he’s brought to synagogues, classrooms, community town hall gatherings, law enforcement, houses of worship and prisons across the country. As he can attest, these stories that have certainly changed hearts, minds, and lives – as will this one.
Auschwitz and Birkenau serve as a stark monument to remind us – hate is not benign, it is not merely unkind words or gestures – when left unchecked it can lead to monstrous and inhumane acts of cruelty and violence. If a hardened neo-Nazi can find his way back from hate, then what lessons can a journey like his hold for the rest of us? What does that road back look like, and are there meaningful interventions that can prevent the road to hate from being taken, altogether? Most importantly, how can we employ these stories to help turn the tide in racism and hatred across the globe?
We believe no more crucial conversation exists in regards to our collective future - and personally insure that the horrors of the holocaust are never again repeated.