International Holocaust Memorial Day

Star of DavidToday was a bit different. Before leaving for church this morning I had to put on a Star of David on my arm. This was to remember the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust. This is addition to the 2 million Gypsies (Roma and Sinti), 15,000 homosexual people and millions of others by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. We as a people can not forget what happened between 1933 and 1945.

Today we mark this event on the 68th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp by Soviet Troops in 1945. What they found there shocked the world.

Would it be great to think the shock of discovering what happened there meant that it never happened again?

But it has.

It has happened too often in Human History where a particular group are singled out. Of course singling out is just the beginning.

First they get demonised.

They get blamed for the ills of society.

Then their rights are restricted.

This all leads them to be thought of as less then human.

Then it is easier to kill them.

Today it is important to remember the words of the German Pastor Martin Niemöller

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out —

because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out —

because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out —

because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —

because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me —

and there was no one left to speak out for me

Back to this morning. Wearing that Star of David, which I am still wearing as I write this, it made everything that was normal feel special. It made me thankful that I live in a time and place where that sort of injustice is unlikely to happen now.

What was even more special was standing there and saying the Kaddish. The Hebrew pray of Mourning. Its hard to explain how touching it is.

el de houseI thought back to my visit to Dachau as a student. The first Concentration Camp opened by the Nazi’s shortly after coming to power in 1933. It was a place that you could not feel at ease there. Walking into the chamber was a humbling experience.

I thought back to my visits to EL-DE House, the Gestapo Headquarters in Cologne which highlighted all the victims of the Holocaust. Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, the disabled, the mentally ill.

It is hard not to visit these places and not question. How did we let this happen?

While today the Holocaust and its victims during World War II, we must remember the sad truth that we let it happen again. We must remember also the victims of the genocides we failed to prevent since then.

  • Cambodia: 1.7 million people
  • Rwanda: 500,000 to 1 million people
  • Bosnia: 25,609-38,700 people
  • Darfur: 400,000 people.

One of the reasons we should always remember the Holocaust and the evils committed, is not for the sake of remembering evil, but in the hope we can prevent in the future. That we can learn to be tolerant of others. Reach out to others in our communities. See the similarities between us as well as the differences.

It is essential that this day is remembered.

I end this post with The Kaddish, and I urge you to say this with your family and friends before the end of the day.

Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity. Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.


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  2 comments for “International Holocaust Memorial Day

  1. February 1, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    This was beautiful. And difficult. Thank you.

  2. mm
    February 1, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Thank you Aoife, it was quite hard to write this. I had to read from the Hebrew bible while wearing a yellow star, that was something that feeling could not be replicated.

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