Long-debunked lie that George Soros was a Nazi collaborator resurfaces thanks to Dinesh D’Souza

Long-debunked lie that George Soros was a Nazi collaborator resurfaces thanks to Dinesh D’Souza

››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

Discredited conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza has revived the long-running and debunked claim that billionaire philanthropist George Soros collaborated with the Nazis as a child. The false claim comes as D’Souza has been trying to promote his latest book, which links Democrats to fascism and pushes the Soros lie. The smear, which has been invoked by other right-wing media figures in the past, has been repeatedly condemned by journalists. Nevertheless, other conservative media and GOP officials have run with D’Souza’s recycled and false charge.


Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Discredited author Dinesh D’Souza accuses George Soros of working with the Nazis

Dinesh D’Souza: George Soros was a “collection boy for Hitler” and is like Josef Mengele of Auschwitz. Author Dinesh D’Souza, speaking with C-SPAN at a FreedomFest event in July, claimed that his new book The Big Lie shows that billionaire philanthropist George Soros “was a kind of collection boy for Hitler” and that Soros admitted as much during an old interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes. D’Souza also claimed there was an “eerie parallel” between Soros and Josef Mengele, a physician at Auschwitz who selected victims for the gas chambers and performed deadly experiments on prisoners, because, D’Souza said, both defended their crimes by saying that if they hadn’t done them, someone else would have. Since the C-SPAN interview (and besides in his book), D’Souza has pushed the claim on Twitter, in The Daily Caller, and in an interview with far-right troll Stefan Molyneux. From C-SPAN’s coverage of FreedomFest on July 20, which aired on August 20:

PETER SLEN (HOST): In The Big Lie you also have a chapter on George Soros.

DINESH D’SOUZA: Yes. It’s not a chapter on Soros, but it’s a -- it’s a section on Soros because Soros claims to be the great anti-fascist. In fact, Soros funds a lot of the Antifa, anti-fascist parties. And what I do is I say, OK, well here’s some -- Soros will talk about, for example, the fact that he's inspired by libertarianism, by Karl Popper and the Open Society. In reality, as you look into Soros' past, his sort of secret history, if you will, you realize that Soros, along with a mentor of his, was a kind of collection boy for Hitler. This is seems harsh to say, but it’s true. It was discussed by Steve Kroft in an interview with Soros in which Kroft asked Soros --

SLEN: For 60 Minutes.

D’SOUZA: For 60 Minutes. He says, “You would go around confiscating the property of the Jews and turning it over to the Nazis, right? And how can you feel good about that?” And Soros goes, “I don't feel bad about that at all.” He goes, “Let's remember that if I didn't do it, somebody would do it,” right? Now this gets me thinking because, because I remember a very powerful scene. This actually involves Josef Mengele, the sort of killer of Auschwitz, the crazed doctor of Auschwitz. Mengele escaped after the war and went to Argentina, and one of his sons tracked him down and confronted his father and said, “Dad, how could you do the things you did in Auschwitz?” And guess what Mengele said? Mengele said, “If I didn’t do them, somebody else would have.” In other words, “Here were these captive people and I, as a scientist, simply saw the opportunity to make them into research specimens, so don't blame me because the bad stuff would have gone on anyway.” So here is an eerie parallel between what I would call the “Mengele defense” and George Soros, out of his own mouth, not as a young man. I don't blame anybody for what they did at the age of 15, but as a mature George Soros now reflecting upon his past, there's lots of dark secrets there. [C-SPAN, The Big Lie, 8/20/17; Twitter, 8/2/17, 8/14/17, 8/22/17, 8/24/17; The Daily Caller, 7/31/17; YouTube, 8/16/17; Media Matters, 4/26/17]

D’Souza has a history of making racist comments and pushing false claims and fringe conspiracy theories. D’Souza has repeatedly pushed false claims and conspiracy theories including that one of the main organizers of the white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, VA, was some kind of liberal double agent, that the Clintons were behind the death of a former Haitian government official, that former President Barack Obama is “anti-American” and "embraced a Third World ideology,” and that Hitler took three "very destructive, genocidal ideas from the Democratic Party” -- a claim he made recently, while promoting his new book. He also shared a fake photo of Obama with Soros, and he has a history of racism, writing about Obama on Twitter, “YOU CAN TAKE THE BOY OUT OF THE GHETTO,” comparing Obama’s father to Ebola, and writing that African-Americans are “better off as a consequence” of slavery. [Media Matters, 8/18/17, 7/18/17, 9/28/12, 2/18/15, 10/6/14, 7/9/14; Snopes, 8/25/17; Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/1/17]

D’Souza’s smear is an old right-wing lie that has been previously debunked

Soros did not admit to being a Nazi collaborator in a 60 Minutes interview. During his interview with 60 Minutes, Soros said yes specifically in response to Steve Kroft noting that “you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson … went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews,” not that he confiscated property himself. As Snopes noted, “Perhaps because of the way the 60 Minutes interview … was edited, or perhaps because Soros was blindsided by Steve Kroft’s accusatory line of questions, or both, his responses were contradictory and confusing. … Soros went on to clarify that he hadn’t actually participated in any confiscations.” Soros said, “I was only a spectator. I had no role in taking away that property, so I had no sense of guilt.” [Media Matters, 2/5/07, 11/10/10; Snopes, 11/28/16]

Soros biographer: Soros did not collaborate with the Nazis as a teenager. According to Michael Kaufman, the author of the biography Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire, Soros “collaborated with no one” during the Holocaust and was simply adopting a secret identity to protect himself while living with a Hungarian government official who was forced to confiscate property from a Jewish aristocrat. From Kaufman’s book:

While he was living with Baumbach as Sandor Kiss, an event occurred that more than a half a century later would become the basis of charges that George Soros, the international financier and billionaire, had somehow collaborated with the Nazi occupiers of his homeland and had exploited his fellow Jews. The issue was raised in a bizarre television profile and interview of Soros aired on the CBS television program 60 Minutes in December of 1998. In the segment, Steve Kroft, the interviewer, noted with prosecutorial gusto that George's father had "bribed a government official to swear that you were his godson," and added that this survival strategy "carried a heavy price tag." For, he continued, "as hundreds of thousands of Jews were being shipped off to the Nazi death camps, a thirteen-year-old George Soros accompanied his phony godfather on his rounds, confiscating property from the Jews." Visibly dumbfounded by the line of questioning, Soros could only manage to say that he had no role in the seizure of property and was merely a spectator. To underscore Kroft's point, film footage showed masses of Hungarian Jews being led away at gunpoint.

This is what actually happened. Shortly after George went to live with Baumbach, the man was assigned to take inventory on the vast estate of Mor Kornfeld, an extremely wealthy aristocrat of Jewish origin. The Kornfeld family had the wealth, wisdom, and connections to be able to leave some of its belongings behind in exchange for permission to make their way to Lisbon. Baumbach was ordered to go to the Kornfeld estate and inventory the artworks, furnishings, and other property. Rather than leave his "godson" behind in Budapest for three days, he took the boy with him. As Baumbach itemized the material, George walked around the grounds and spent time with Kornfeld's staff. It was his first visit to such a mansion, and the first time he rode a horse. He collaborated with no one and he paid attention to what he understood to be his primary responsibility: making sure that no one doubted that he was Sandor Kiss. Among his practical concerns was to make sure that no one saw him pee. [Media Matters, 12/8/10]

Glenn Beck pushed the smear in 2010, and journalists roundly condemned him

Then-Fox News host Glenn Beck in November 2010 falsely claimed Soros took “property from the Jews as a teenager.” Glenn Beck in November 2010 falsely claimed that Soros “had to go over and take the lands from the people, his Jewish friends and neighbors,” and that he admitted as such in the 60 Minutes interview. From his Fox News show:

GLENN BECK (HOST): But when he had to go over and take the lands from the people, his Jewish friends and neighbors who were being sent to the gas chambers, I can't imagine what that would do to a teenager, or anybody, an adult. Well, what did it do to George Soros? In an interview with Steve Kroft, Soros was asked if he felt guilt at all about taking the property from the Jews as a teenager. He responded, no. [Media Matters, 11/10/10]

New Yorker: Beck’s Nazi smear of Soros is “blood variety” “libel.” The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg condemned Beck for using a 1995 New Yorker article to criticize Soros, adding that his claim about Soros and the Nazis was “no ordinary libel—it’s more akin to the blood variety.” From the November 29, 2010, article:

Call us oversensitive, but when our efforts are shanghaied like a nineteenth-century sailor and forced to work as a deckhand aboard a ship of lies, we can’t help getting our hackles up. You don’t have to be a professional semiotician to see that the Glenn Beck promo is intended to leave the impression that George Soros, the hedge-fund investor and funder of anti-totalitarian and liberal causes, is an anti-Semite; that he was somehow complicit in the Holocaust; and that he is an enemy of Israel. These are lies—lies told by innuendo, but lies all the same.

[...]

The ugliest single sentence Beck uttered that week came on his radio program, which supplements his TV show. “Here’s a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps,” he said, referring to Soros, age thirteen. That’s no ordinary libel—it’s more akin to the blood variety. It was Beck’s ruminations on the Jewish Question that exhausted the patience of some conservatives, but that is a relatively minor aspect of his malicious crusade against Soros. [The New Yorker, 11/29/10]

Former ABC News reporter Kari Marton: “Beck's smearing of George Soros echoes the anti-Semitic attacks of the Hungarian far right.” Former ABC News reporter Kati Marton wrote a piece in The Daily Beast about Beck’s attacks on Soros. The piece’s subhed said the “smearing ... echoes the anti-Semitic attacks of the Hungarian far right and is a perverse twisting of his experience with the Nazis.” Marton wrote that Soros “acted as a messenger of the Budapest Jewish Council” and was “sent to alert Jews to report to various collection points around the city” but that he “urged defiance” instead. From the November 13, 2010, article:

I, however, find it impossible not to speak up when I hear the likes of Beck from the comfort of his armchair charge Soros with anti-Semitism. Beck paints Soros as a Nazi tool for having had the supreme nerve to survive Europe’s most violent Holocaust: the one that swept through Hungary under SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann during the summer and fall of 1944. Eichmann’s was a well-oiled machine by then, and he had to make quick work of Europe’s last remaining intact Jewish community. Even the most deluded Nazis knew the war was over, their cause lost. But Eichmann was determined to finish the job in Hungary. Only the most resourceful and the luckiest survived.

It is well known that the 14-year-old George Soros acted as a messenger of the Budapest Jewish Council, a group of aged and terrified elders who thought if they kept the city’s Jews calm, and followed the Gestapo’s every command, they might survive. Sent to alert Jews to report to various collection points around the city, the young Soros, prompted by his canny father, urged defiance instead. “There was one man I shall not forget,” Soros recalled, “I told him what my father had said. And he answered, ‘Tell your father that I am a law-abiding citizen, that I have always been a law-abiding citizen and that I am not going to start breaking the law now.'" We know how few of those law-abiding citizens survived Eichmann’s barbaric campaign to make Hungary Judenrein. The fact is that only by assuming false identities, through bribery and deception, could people survive that Kafkaesque nightmare. Andy Grove, the legendary founder of Intel, another young Budapest Jew, survived thus, as did my own parents. Raoul Wallenberg, the great Swedish humanitarian, performed his miracles in Budapest partly by forging passports and bribing Nazis. [The Daily Beast, 11/3/10]

The Nation’s Jonathan Schell: Beck’s Nazi attack on Soros was “especially vile” and constitutes “libel.” The Nation’s late correspondent Jonathan Schell wrote that Beck’s Nazi “libel” of Soros was “especially vile,” noting that Soros “never took any lands or anything else from Holocaust victims or anyone else.” From the December 2, 2010, article:

In a novel and especially vile (and also false) twist, Beck, while heaping the classic anti-Semitic slurs on Soros, insinuates that Soros, a Holocaust survivor, is himself anti-Semitic. Beck, who denies that he is an anti-Semite, accuses Soros of having had to “go over and take the lands from the people, his Jewish friends and neighbors, who were being sent to the gas chambers” when he was a boy in Hungary during World War II. (In reality, as Michael Kaufman reveals in his book Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire, Soros’s Christian protector was ordered to inventory the estate of a Jewish aristocrat who had escaped Hungary. He brought Soros, 13 at the time, with him. Soros wandered the estate and rode a horse. He never took any lands or anything else from Holocaust victims or anyone else.) In a perverse way, the libel is a perfect complement to the history of anti-Semitism: now the Jew is found to be guilty of, on top of all of history’s other evils, his own people’s persecution. [The Nation, 12/2/10]

The debunked smear has been around since at least 2006 and has been pushed by others besides Beck

Right-wing authors David Horowitz and Richard Poe claimed in 2006 that Soros survived the Holocaust by “assimilating to Nazism.” In a 2006 book, right-wing authors David Horowitz and Richard Poe claimed that Soros was a Nazi "collaborator in fascist Hungary" and "survived [the Holocaust] by assimilating to Nazism" as a 14-year-old boy. [Media Matters, 8/2/06]

Right-wing radio host Lee Rodgers in February 2007: Soros “apparently very cheerfully and willingly went to work for the Nazis.” Radio station KSFO was forced to apologize in February 2007 after conservative radio host Lee Rodgers claimed that Soros “apparently very cheerfully and willingly went to work for the Nazis," which another co-host claimed Soros did to “further his own career." [Media Matters, 2/27/07]

Ann Coulter in March 2009: Democrats have "a Nazi collaborator, literally -- international financier George Soros -- funding their phony grass-roots organizations." Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter claimed that Democrats “have a Nazi collaborator, literally, international financier George Soros funding their phony grass-roots organizations.” From the March 2, 2009, edition of Fox News’ Glenn Beck:

ANN COULTER: And the other thing I wanted to say about what you were saying -- this obsession with is Russia our leader? Is Russia our leader? I finally figured out why that bugs me so much. Power -- right-wing and conservative power has always bubbled up from the bottom. You -- Rush Limbaugh came out of a very strong legal family. He goes on radio. He gets fired. He gets fired. He gets fired. Free Republic. Just some guy out in California. Joe the Plumber -- it's always been bottom up.

GLENN BECK (HOST): Sure.

COULTER: Not with the Democrats. Oh, no. They have a Nazi collaborator, literally, international financier George Soros funding their phony grass-roots organizations. So they look at Rush and say, "Who’s funding you?" Well, Rush Limbaugh’s funding Rush Limbaugh. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 3/2/09; Media Matters, 9/20/10]

Human Events: Soros is “also a Nazi collaborator.” An online piece from the conservative Human Events claimed Soros was “a Nazi collaborator” who “helped cart off the possessions of Hungarian Jews after they were sent to concentration camps.” From the March 10, 2009, article:

Soros is a behind-the-scenes despot. He is an evil man who has used his wealth to further all the causes the Democrat Party holds dear.

He was also a Nazi collaborator. In his autobiography, entitled "Soros on Soros," he blithely describes how as a teenager he helped cart off the possessions of Hungarian Jews after they were sent to concentration camps. Soros wrote that this never bothered him, even though his father was Jewish and he grew up in a Jewish home. He says he has no regrets for his actions. "Somebody would have done it," he wrote. [Human Events, 3/10/09]

Investor's Business Daily: Soros is a "former Nazi sympathizer." A March 11, 2009, Investor's Business Daily editorial accused Soros of being a “former Nazi sympathizer.” From the editorial:

If, as White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel says, Rush Limbaugh "is the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party," it is only fair to ask: Who is his Democratic counterpart?

Our nominee is George Soros, the Hungarian billionaire and former Nazi sympathizer who helped fund MoveOn.org, the radical group that smeared Gen. David Petraeus with its "General Betray Us" ad last fall.

Through his Open Society Initiative and personal contributions Soros has funded many liberal causes and many Democratic candidates with the intent of undermining democracy and capitalism. His ultimate goal is to create a global socialist collective where we hand over our money and/or freedom and sing "Kumbaya."

For our part, we'll take Rush over Soros. [Media Matters, 9/20/10]

Coulter: Soros "did well under the Nazis." Coulter claimed that Soros “collaborated with the Nazis in Hungary, as he admitted.” From the March 26, 2009, edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

ANN COULTER: I don't think George Soros' name should come out without pointing out that this is not the first crisis he's done well in. He collaborated with the Nazis in Hungary, as he admitted, so he did well under -- under the Nazis. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/26/09; Media Matters, 9/20/10]

Founder of right-wing outlet The Rebel in Toronto Sun column: Soros "collaborated with the Nazis" to survive the Holocaust. Ezra Levant, now the head of Canadian right-wing outlet Rebel Media, wrote in a September 5, 2010, Toronto Sun column that Soros “collaborated with the Nazis” and “turned on other Jews to spare himself.” The Sun was subsequently forced to issue a retraction and apology. From the column:

When the Nazis took total control of Hungary in 1944, the Holocaust followed. In two months, 440,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to death camps.

To survive, George, then a teenager, collaborated with the Nazis.

First he worked for the Judenrat. That was the Jewish council set up by the Nazis to do their dirty work for them. Instead of the Nazis rounding up Jews every day for the trains, they delegated that murderous task to Jews who were willing to do it to survive another day at the expense of their neighbours.

Theodore hatched a better plan for his son. He bribed a non-Jewish official at the agriculture ministry to let George live with him. George helped the official confiscate property from Jews.

By collaborating with the Nazis, George survived the Holocaust. He turned on other Jews to spare himself. [Media Matters, 9/20/10; BuzzFeed, 5/29/17]

WND columnist: Soros has a "pro-Nazi past.” A WorldNetDaily (WND) columnist on December 7, 2010, wrote that Soros has a "pro-Nazi past," and falsely claimed that Glenn Beck had been criticized by "liberal Jewish leaders" for merely "quoting from the Soros interview." [WND, 12/7/10]

Infowars’ Alex Jones: “Soros Helped Nazis During WWII.” Infowars’ Alex Jones published a January 2012 video titled “Soros Helped Nazis During WWII: Infowars Nightly News” that claimed Soros in the 60 Minutes interview said that “he would go around to the different Jewish homes helping catalogue their property and land, which the Nazis then took.” Infowars has also published videos in recent years with the titles, “Insane Nazi Collaborator Soros Calls Trump Hitler,” “Soros: The Nazi Collaborator Who Sold Out Jews To Survive,” and, “George Soros: Freak Nazi Collaborator.” [YouTube, 1/25/12; YouTube, accessed 9/1/17]

Other right-wing media figures and Republican officials and candidates pushed the debunked smear thanks to D’Souza

Nevada Republican congressional candidate Annette Teijeiro:

[Twitter, 7/31/17]

Reddit’s “r/he_Donald” forum: “Could Soros have gained his wealth by being a Hitler collection boy???????” Users on Reddit’s “r/he_Donald” forum said D’Souza’s claim means Soros should “have a completely non-special place in hell, next to commonplace murderers, rapists and whatnot” in addition to other attacks, with one user wondering, “Could Soros have gained his wealth by being a Hitler collection boy???????”

[Reddit, 8/1/17]

In response to D’Souza’s claim, far-right troll Jack Posobiec tweeted and subsequently revised, “George Soros - Hitler's Favorite Jew.”

[Twitter, 8/1/17, 8/2/17; Media Matters, 5/11/17]

Right-wing radio host Tim Jones:​

[Twitter, 8/2/17]

Frequent Fox News guest Harlan Hill:

[Twitter, 8/2/17]

Former California GOP head Shawn Steel:

[Twitter, 8/22/17, 8/24/17, 8/25/17]

WND columnist and frequent Fox guest Erik Rush:

[Twitter, 8/24/17]

Fake news purveyor American Today: “Dinesh D’Souza Goes After Soros And EXPOSES Him.” Fake news purveyor American Today wrote, “In a viral twitter video, conservative author Dinesh D’Souza EXPOSES the secret Nazi past of George Soros.” [American Today, 8/25/17, 4/17/17; Snopes, 4/17/17]

Fake news purveyor TruthFeed: “WOW! Dinesh D’Souza Goes After Soros and EXPOSES Him!” Fake news purveyor TruthFeed wrote that D’Souza “EXPOSE[D] the secret Nazi past of George Soros,” and urged people to “watch and share so it is EXPOSED how truly sinister this sugar daddy to the radical left is.” [TruthFeed, 8/25/17; Media Matters, 12/14/16]

Breitbart’s Curt Schilling:

[Twitter, 8/26/17]

Former Wash. Times columnist and GOP congressional candidate Milton Wolf:

[Twitter, 8/26/17]

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