The Holocaust started with words. It ended up with six million Jews murdered for being Jews. We are left to carry on remembrance.
Never before had a world power – Germany – deranged by anti-Semitism, made the eradication of an entire people its central objective and gone to such exhaustive extremes to achieve it. That is what makes the Holocaust so grotesquely, terrifyingly unique! The unexampled virulence of anti-Semitism, a hatred older than and different from any other hatred in human history, is at the heart of what the Holocaust is all about – that, and the role of the Jews as the canary in the coal mine of civilization.
The Holocaust took place because the local European populations allowed insidious persecution to take root. The vast majority of the population stood by silently – at best, afraid to speak out; at worst, indifferent.
A Survivor Remembers
Bystanders enabled the Holocaust. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel on bystanders:
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
We must never stop asking some disturbing questions about those who were never tried for their complicity in the world’s worst genocide. It would have been impossible to carry out the mass murder of so many people without the complicity of so many governments, groups, and individuals. Perhaps there were too many guilty parties to put them all on trial, but it is not too late to hold the guilty morally accountable for what they did and failed to do.
Never Again, Over and Over
The scales of justice remain out of balance. Perhaps this helps to explain why, since the world pledged “never again,” more than 6 million people have been murdered in preventable genocides – in Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur and other places.
Despite enduring forced slave labor and concentration camps with minimal food, sleep and under cruel treatment, my parents managed to survive. Others did not!
So for me, it goes without saying that “Never Again” is an ineradicable moral imperative. I always have taken and will take the Holocaust personally, but the world will not. Eventually, everything is forgotten, even the worst atrocity and crime in history. A murderer eventually gets out of jail for “good behavior” too.
Remembrance, Never Forget
As a child of Holocaust survivors, I do not want to forget. I will never forget and will not let others forget either.