Wednesday at sundown through Thursday at sundown was Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day, on the Jewish calendar. This year’s theme was “Until the Very Last Jew: Eighty Years Since the Onset of Mass Annihilation.” Because of COVID, most ceremonies this year had to be held online. I wanted to share some of this year’s observance with you, along with a couple of excellent articles on its importance.
In a time of rising anti-Semitism, a Holocaust denial movement, and too many people who have been miseducated about history and take Nazism so lightly that they use any occasion to compare their political opponents to Hitler, it is more important than ever to remind the world of the genuine horrors of the Holocaust and the approximately six million Jews who were persecuted, tortured and murdered. If you have ever visited the grounds of the former concentration camps, or spent time visiting with Holocaust survivors, as I have many times, you will never forget. But many people haven’t done that, so Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day is vital to keep the memories alive, not only to honor the victims and heroes but to make sure nothing like it ever happens again, and not just to the Jewish people but to any scapegoated group.
Here are some links that I very much hope you will explore:
To start with, here’s a video of the opening ceremonies from Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel. It includes a speech by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin:
The museum also has a page of information and photos about this and previous Holocaust Remembrance Days. It includes links to the text of some of this year’s major speeches, profiles of Holocaust survivors, and much more:
And if you visit their home page, you’ll find a treasure trove of information and resources related to the Holocaust: https://www.yadvashem.org.
As a strong rebuttal to those who claim the Holocaust didn’t really happen, read this excellent piece by blogger Jeff Dunetz. It details the history of the liberation of the death camps; the actual descriptions of what they found written by Generals Eisenhower, Patten and Bradley; and the story of what Eisenhower, with remarkable foresight about humanity’s ability to ignore reality, ordered be done to make sure the horrors were documented for posterity so they could never be denied or forgotten.
One unsettling detail: Dunetz links to graphic newsreel footage of the horrors, but even though he posted it himself on YouTube, the site won’t let him embed it because “it has been identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.” I would be worried about anyone who didn’t find it offensive, but that’s no reason to censor it.
The social media sites in their self-assumed roles as censors are now doing what the news media did after 9/11: censoring footage of the attack because it was too disturbing. Result: we now have a generation of young Americans who don’t remember 9/11 and think it’s just paranoia or racism for us to care about secure borders and keeping radical states like Iran from getting nuclear weapons. As George Santayana warned, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”