International Holocaust Memorial Day

Prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau during liberation, in January 1945

I’m a day late with this posting (due to some domestic crises) for which my apologies.

As in previous years, and as you can see from my previous post, the level of antisemitism that we find around the world gives the Jewish people cause for concern.

Elder of Ziyon writes about Holocaust Day shenanigans in Europe

Here is the entire statement put out by the EU’s Catherine Ashton on the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day:

Today the international community remembers the victims of the Holocaust. We honour every one of those brutally murdered in the darkest period of European history. We also want to pay a special tribute to all those who acted with courage and sacrifice to protect their fellow citizens against persecution.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, we must keep alive the memory of this tragedy. It is an occasion to remind us all of the need to continue fighting prejudice and racism in our own time. We must remain vigilant against the dangers of hate speech and redouble our commitment to prevent any form of intolerance. The respect of human rights and diversity lies at the heart of what the European Union stands for.

Can anyone find the word that Ashton manages to avoid using?

Oh, yeah – the victims.

There’s plenty more at the link if you have the stomach for it.

Deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon in the Algemeiner teaches us the three lessons we must learn from Auschwitz:

Lesson number one: Reject the lies told to us, especially the ones that fly in the face of reality and aim to annihilate rather than rescue us.

[…]

Lesson number two: Those tracks could readily have been wrecked in but one fleeting, focused air attack by Allied forces. Leaders of the caliber of Churchill and FDR were privy to those begged requests, yet no such bombing run ever occurred, not once. The genocide was not stopped for one day, not for one hour. And the lesson is clear, we cannot live without self-reliance.

[…]

Lesson number three is: We dare not forget. We must also remember the precious lives wantonly, cruelly ended in this place and others like it through the unholy trio of Nazi madness, Western indifference, and Jewish weakness.

A thoughtful yet shocking article by Haviv Rettig Gur in the Times of Israel explains in horrifying technical detail the that you don’t need fanatics to kill 6 million people, as he describes the cold physical mechanics of the mass murder that took place in Auschwitz and other camps, and how normative, educated people enabled the Holocaust for no particular ideological reason. He comments:

So to say that Auschwitz is a warning against racism, or even against the dangers of desensitization and dehumanization under totalitarian regimes, is to miss the stark reality of the actual experience. At Auschwitz is buried our certainty in a shared humanity, in the undeniable, intrinsic value of the human being. These remain lofty ideals, to be sure, but they are no longer axioms premised on the human condition itself. Any limits to human cruelty, if they exist at all, lie beyond the most rabid viciousness ever conceived in the human imagination.

Read the whole article. There is so much more there.

Real Jerusalem Streets at Israellycool has an interesting photo essay for Holocaust Memorial Day.

To conclude, here are two diametrically opposed videos. The first is at CiFWatch – the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Warning: the pictures are EXTREMELY graphic, but the commentary is very moving.

And the second – our reasons to be hopeful and grateful to G-d for the establishment of the State of Israel:

As in previous years I direct you to my family history pages to read some personal accounts of the Holocaust years and how they impacted my family.

!עם ישראל חי – Am Yisrael Chai! The People of Israel live!

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15 Responses to International Holocaust Memorial Day

  1. Ben says:

    Powerful video. I was recently reading a WWII American paratrooper’s memoir in which he described the concentration camps he saw as they were liberated. I could hardly process in my mind the things I was reading… the fact that human beings can act as horribly as the Nazis did must not be forgotten. I am so thankful that Israel is strong!
    -Ben

  2. PeteCA says:

    thanks Anne. I will be sure to read your personal history pages.
    Pete, USA

  3. Thank you for sharing. My grandfather on mother’s side was an executive on Malyshevsky factory that made T-34s. My childhood bff’s grandfather was one of the designers.
    Never forget.

  4. Dafna Yee says:

    Thank you for sharing, Anne. I was very moved.

  5. Anne Diamond says:

    I watched on the BBCannel 4 an interest doc on the one of the camps where music played a part of how the camp had many talented inmates. My eyes never stopped crying from the begining to the end.
    Even now the world had not listened, we still have wars in far places where children and women are
    are treated in the most terrible way childsoldiers. They want nothing only for their children grow up not to be the middle of a war that is not going anywhere.
    There are too many usless wars I don’t think there has ever been a world with out wars in my life time yet.

    This is what we need to strive for..
    Anne Diamond UK

    • anneinpt says:

      I think the camp you talk of was Theresienstadt, though I could be mistaken.

      Indeed it is dreadful that wars have not stopped, and the phenomenon of child soldiers is heart-breaking and terrifying. How can we ever hope to have a world without war if the next generation are educated, or brainwashed or simply coerced into hating the other side and fighting to the death?

      That is also the essence of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. Their children are taught to hate us.

  6. peteca1 says:

    ” The genocide was not stopped for one day, not for one hour. And the lesson is clear, we cannot live without self-reliance.”
    Absolutely true for Jews and Israel. I don’t blame you in the tiniest bit for feeling that way. The Allies in WW2 didnt so much as lift a finger to prevent the atrocities in the concentration camps. And there is evidence (or at least suspicion) they had classified reports telling them that bad things were going on.

    What’s WORSE – the greater lesson is that the world NEVER stops genocide. Look at Pol Pot in Cambodia, look at Rwanda. It happens repetitively, and no-one ever lifts a finger. Ever. Later on, all kinds of “would-be humanitarians” arrive and declare a great injustice was done. They conduct extensive trials and hold some perpetratos guilty. But where were they when hundreds of thousands (or millions) of people were dying? It’s a sad commentary about the human existence.

    Pete, USA

  7. Brian Goldfarb says:

    I posted the Gur article that Anne links to above, on Simply Jews (it will be there in a day or two) “without comment”. If you read it, you will know why it needs no comment. Which is not to detract from Anne’s article.

    All Ashkenazi Jews lost family members, people we will never know, and their children and grandchildren we will never visit and celebrate with, argue with, get broigos with, fall out with, make up with…because the Nazis and their willing executioners killed them.

    My cousin in Australia, whose mother is (and, I think, late father was) a survivor, and is the keeper of the family genealogical map, says that, on my father’s side, the family home village had several hundred Jews before the invasion of Poland. After the War, a handful. And I’m sure the same thing happened to my mother’s family, in Lithuania. And the story is repeatable all across Eastern Europe. See, for example, the start of episode 5 of Simon Schama’s “The Story of the Jews” (on dvd), where he goes back to his mother’s home village in Lithuania and finds a survivor, who survived because he was conscripted into the Red Army, unlike the other 95% of the place’s jewish inhabitants.

    And we felt very uncomfortable during our day trip (from Helsinki) to Tallinn, which (proudly!?) declared itself the first state to be “Judenfrei” in 1940.

    And the BDS mob wonder why we get…exercised (to be polite) when the Shoah is denied, or vicious comparisons are drawn between that and the treatment by Israelis of the Palestinians, and so forth. Trouble is, the leaders, the knowledgeable ones, know that they are talking rubbish. See, for example, some of the comments below the CiF item from Belsen.

    I really do have to restrain myself when responding to these people.

    Sorry for the rant.

    • anneinpt says:

      No need to apologize for any rant Brian. It’s entirely justified (and much too polite to be called a rant!).

      The reality of the enormous loss from the Holocaust becomes clear when you look at the next generations and who is missing from them, as you point out: “their children and grandchildren we will never visit and celebrate with”

      That insight was brought home to us when we had the 70th yahrzeit memorial for my mother’s 3 brothers (see my family history pages for the report). We were about 100 people at the memorial, all direct descendants of my grandparents and their 5 daughters. We did a quick calculation based on those numbers and figured out that our family would have been almost double in size had those 3 boys not been murdered.

      Then multiply that 6-million fold and the numbers are … well … astronomical.

      Your words about BDS are spot-on.

  8. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Apologies. I am also reminded of Stephen Fry (the British actor and writer). He did “Who Do You Think You Are?”, the BBC genealogical programme. His family on his mother’s side had been Hungarian Jews, who came to the UK in the 1930s to run a sugar beet factory. Thus, halachically, Fry is Jewish (as he so acknowledges). He goes to Hungary to trace his mother’s family. He winds up in a records office, with a distant cousin, looking at the records: “died in Auschwitz, died in Auschwitz…” Finally, almost in tears, he mutters, loud enough for the mike to pick up and clearly not rehearsed, “fucking bastards”.

    Nothing more to be said.

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