Heroes in Holocaust Honored
As the world honors the heroes and victims of Holocaust, U.S. Permanent Representative to UN Ambassador Samantha Power today shared how she was struck by the statement of one of the survivors of the Holocaust that says, “It is not the question of where was God in the Holocaust, but where was man during the mass atrocities of millions of Jews?”
In her remarks in New York City at the UN Holocaust Memorial Ceremony on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, Ambassador Power stressed the need to be not just bystanders of the surging extremism and anti-Semitism facing the world today.
“Are we playing the role of the upstanders? Are we opening the doors of our homes and our nations to people when they need it most?” – Ambassador Power
She even posed the question if people of today are standing up against anti-Semitism, as it surges in various quarters around the world.
Remembering the Heroes of the Holocaust
Ambassador Power also highlighted in her remarks that the event in New York must not only focus on the victims of the Holocaust but also the world must also reflect on the lives that were saved by individuals who refused to be bystanders.
Nicholas Winston who passed away last July at the age of 106 – was one of those individuals.
According to Ambassador Power, Mr. Winston helped 669 children, most of them Jews, escape from Czechoslovakia in the run up to the Second World War.
Mr. Winston helped children escape death by bribing officials, forging documents, arranging transport through hostile territory. And, he even persuaded families to take in foster children – anything to get kids out.
In addition, members of the resistance did not stand by either, helping Jews like 10-year-old Haim Roet evade deportation to the camps.
Haim and his three older brothers were smuggled out of Amsterdam’s Jewish ghetto. In 1943, Haim was brought to the home of Anton and Aleida Deesker who took care of him and hid him for the rest of the war.
“Think, for just one moment, about the quiet courage and humanity embodied in that simple act – in that simple reflex.” – Ambassador Power
Mr. Roet also become a good example of a good samaritan these days. He is now in his eighties who continues to dedicate himself to serving his nation of Israel, particularly its marginalized communities.
“He continues to ensure that no one forgets that unto every victim there is a name, there is a history, there is a story, there is a set of aspirations unrealized.” – Ambassador Power
Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds perished. In particular, over one million Jewish children were killed in the Holocaust, as were approximately two million Jewish women and three million Jewish men.
Jews and others frequently use the term Shoah, Hebrew for “catastrophe,” to refer to the Holocaust. After the start of World War II, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler created forced-labor and death camps throughout Europe to execute the “final solution of the Jewish question.”
The Nazis persecuted other groups they deemed racially ‘inferior,’ including Gypsies, the physically and mentally disabled, gays and lesbians, Soviet prisoners of war, Poles, communists and numerous minority groups. The Nazi regime initially constructed forced-labor camps to imprison Jews, but as early as 1941 built extermination camps designed solely for the quick and efficient mass murder of Jews and others.