Holocaust Denial Is Pure Evil?

As unfathomable as the Holocaust was to those who entered the death camps at the end of WWII, it is all the more unthinkable even to contemplate the idea that the Holocaust never happened. Of all people, General Eisenhower understood that very well when he visited a death camp with General Patton after the war. When he spoke to members of Congress who had just visited Buchenwald in 1945, he said, “You saw only one camp yesterday. There are many others. Your responsibilities, I believe, extend into a great field, and informing the people at home of things like these atrocities is one of them… Nothing is covered up. We have nothing to conceal. The barbarous treatment these people received in the German concentration camps is almost unbelievable. I want you to see for yourself and be spokesmen for the United States.”

Furthermore, in a letter to General Marshall, also in 1945, he also wrote, “While I was touring the camp, I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape.  I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick.  In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter.  He said he would get sick if he did so.  I made the visit deliberately in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops the tendency to charge these allegations merely to “propaganda.”

General Eisenhower somehow understood that the human race is such that if the Holocaust could be erased, minimized or denied, people would find ways to do it. He was very concerned about preserving the memory of such carnage for future generations. In spite of his efforts and that of others, Holocaust denial is a real thing in 2023.

Of all the people who spent years hunting Nazis post-WWII, Simon Wiesenthal understood that bringing those criminals to justice was critical but not enough. In his book The Sunflower, he said, “Discovering witnesses is just as important as catching criminals.”

Wiesenthal was so right! Especially as we move forward into the 21st century and both criminals and surviving victims are in their mid-90s. Soon, very soon, first-hand accounts of the horrors of the Holocaust will be a thing of the past, and the historical revisionists will be one step closer to making the Jewish catastrophe completely disappear from the annals of history.

So was Elie Wiesel in Night, the memoir of his time in Auschwitz, “For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time,”

One of the most known Holocaust deniers is David Irving, who has written several books on the Third Reich and who has described the Holocaust as “limited,” “experimental,” “not systematic,” and “an invention of the allies.” He was exposed in a book by Jewish historian and antisemitism expert Deborah Lipstadt. In Denying the Holocaust, Lipstadt called Irving a Holocaust denier. This led to Irving suing her and Penguin Books. Irving was found by the judge to be an antisemite, a racist and a falsifier of the historical record. He lost, but unfortunately, that was just one battle against Holocaust denial that was a victory, but certainly not the war.

Why are people not trying to deny American slavery or the Russian Gulag? I am not in any way suggesting that we should deny these two other human tragedies or any others, but I am wondering why such focus is on the Jewish tragedy.

To be honest, I am not wondering why such focus is on trying to erase the Holocaust from history. Satan will invest all his efforts in trying to ridicule, minimize, ostracize and even demonize Jewish existence. He would be thrilled if he could convince some that the Holocaust never happened or was grossly exaggerated by the Allies or Jewish people to justify pushing for the creation of a Jewish state.

One way to fight Holocaust denial is through education:  at home, at school, through movies and even in churches and mosques. Some have said that people talk too much about the Holocaust, but a survey taken two years ago shows otherwise.

Please do not tell me that we are speaking too much about the Holocaust after you consider the result of that survey. As first-hand accounts are becoming a rarity, the memory of the Holocaust is in our hands. Our generation is now responsible for continuing the fight for the preservation of historical truth and for the respect of the memory of the six million.

Holocaust Denial is pure evil, it is an insult to the victims and the survivors. When we see it, read it or even hear it, if we remain silent, we become the new bystanders of the 21st century.         Bystanders at such a critical crossroads in human history as at any other time are becoming co-perpetrators.

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” (Elie Wiesel).

The Silenced Six Million Are Crying Out!

When someone cannot defend themselves, they count on others to come to the rescue, and when it comes to the Holocaust, the others are you and me. As it turns out, the silenced six million are counting on us never to be forgotten. International Holocaust Remembrance Day It is different from Yom HaShoah (Day of the Catastrophe), which falls annually, a week after Passover in Israel (started in 1953). Since 2005, each year, on January 27, the international community remembers the Holocaust in various ways, from synagogue services to vigils to educational events that include Holocaust survivors or scholars. Yet, survivors are dwindling to a few thousand globally. Considering that anybody born at the onset of the war in 1939 would be eighty-four years old today, most survivors of the Holocaust are in their nineties. Soon, they will all be in our memories. Or will they?

Some clueless teenagers were recently spotted on TikTok pretending to be in the Holocaust. These teenagers put makeup on their faces to look emaciated and write pretend captions such as"I died in the Holocaust" and receive comments such as "I myself have been gassed over 6,000,000 times!!!” These young people are belittling the worst carnage against the Jewish people in the history of mankind; they think it is funny and their followers do too. That is not even considering all the other social networks getting away with posts about the Holocaust, going from ridiculing it to denying it.

The danger is threefold. First, we have a disappearing group of first-hand witnesses of the horrors of the Holocaust. In another five years, they might all be gone since the survivors are almost all in their nineties. Second, an uneducated and offensive younger generation is mocking the Holocaust and its victims online or in person. Finally, we have a growing number of people who minimize, alter or deny the catastrophe. As the survivors disappear and the new generation mocks the tragedy, it will only encourage those who choose to deny the Holocaust ever happened, and this breaks my heart.

As the international community commemorates the Holocaust on January 27, I am glad to see that some efforts are still being made, never to forget. Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem is inaugurating its book of names at an exhibit at the UN headquarters in NY. The Book of Names contains 4,800,000 of the 6,00o,000 names of the Holocaust victims. One of them is my grandfather Maurice Weinzveig. What else can we do?

Listen to a Holocaust survivor: This is a very effective way to learn about the event from a first-hand witness. The challenge is that in 2023, their number is exponentially reducing by virtue of their age. If you know one or are invited to hear one, I think you should take advantage of the opportunity. Additionally,  the staff at Shadows of Shoah brings many testimonies from survivors on video and, by that medium, renders their unique stories eternal. The Steven Spielberg Shoah Foundation also has over 50,000 video testimonies of survivors, including my dad Georges Melnick.

Visit a Death Camp: In November of 2010, I traveled to Krakow, Poland, to visit the remains of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where my maternal Grandfather Maurice Weinzveig was taken by the Gestapo from Paris in the Summer of 1942. I am set to visit again in the summer of 2023. The Death Camps are some eerie monuments left over from one of the darkest periods of mankind’s history. If possible, everybody, and most definitely every Christian, should walk through one of them once in their lifetime.

Visit a Holocaust Memorial Museum: The most extensive and most elaborate of them–Yad Vashem–is located in Jerusalem. I make a point of taking the people there each time I lead a tour to Israel. It is a must! It is a difficult visit punctuated by visual and audio markers that will undoubtedly leave an impression on you for many years. There are other Holocaust Memorials, several in the United States. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles are just two of them. The list is much longer and warrants several different visits if possible.

Read an account of the Holocaust: There is a tremendous collection of Holocaust literature in many languages. From survivors’ accounts to biographies, historical accounts, and even poems. Every human being should read the short but life-altering account of Elie Wiesel’s time at Auschwitz-Birkenau with his father when he was only 15. As told in his autobiography Night, his story of resilience and survival against all odds is very dark. A detailed and accurate account of the Holocaust can be found in Lucy Dawidowicz The War Against the Jews or in The destruction of the European Jews by Raul Hilberg.

The silent six million are indeed crying out. It is heart-wrenching even to think their memory could disappear from history. To bring a little perspective to the 6,000.000 and to understand that they are much more than just a number–even though the tattooed forearm was an attempt at dehumanizing the victims–if we were to recite all the names of the 6,000,000 innocent victims of the Holocaust, it would take us 11.5 years nonstop day and night.

Please, tell your loved ones, especially the younger generation about the Holocaust. Don't wait for schools or museums to do our jobs. We owe it to the silenced six million, so let us not be indifferent!

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
(Elie Wiesel)

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Remember, Retell and Resist!

Here we are again, approaching the day that the international community has chosen to remember the Holocaust. It is different from Yom HaShoah (Day of the Catastrophe) which falls annually, a week after Passover in Israel (started in 1953). Each year, on January 27, the international community remembers the Holocaust in various ways from synagogue services to vigils to educational events that include Holocaust survivors or scholars. Survivors are dwindling down to a few thousand globally. Considering that anybody born at the onset of the war in 1939 would be eighty-two-years-old today, most survivors of the Holocaust are in their late eighties or early nineties. Soon, they will all be in our memories. Or will they?

Remembering the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany during World War II by observing International Holocaust Remembrance Day is critical. This is an anniversary that was set up by the United Nations. Living at the time of history nearing the complete loss of the remaining survivors of the Holocaust, remembering the uniqueness of the Holocaust is crucial to the future of humanity in general and the preservation of our global Jewish community in particular. The motto of “NEVER AGAIN” arose soon after the closing of World War II and has been the ongoing creed of all those who want the Holocaust to be remembered.

Many people are displaying what could be called "Holocaust remembrance fatigue". Questions arise like, "Why do people see the Holocaust as such a unique event in the history of mankind?", "Why are we talking about the Holocaust again?”, "Could we also remember other genocides?", "Was the Holocaust exaggerated?" These are all great questions. But considering that a large percentage of millennials cannot name one concentration camp and cannot even say how many Jewish people died in the Holocaust, we cannot remain silent.

Why do people see the Holocaust as such a unique event in the history of mankind?
It has been argued by many that the Holocaust stands as a unique event in the history of humanity. Recently, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem has been at the center of a controversy with the possible appointment of a new chairman. Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to appoint Effi Eitam as the new head of Yad Vashem and has received a lot of criticism for it. For now, Eitam's nomination is on hold because of some of his words and actions against Palestinians during his tenure in the IDF. It is clear that Yad Vashem needs a strong voice to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust to the next generations, but people are divided on the uniqueness of the Holocaust. Some believe that it was a terrible genocide that must be remembered like the Cambodian genocide (1975-79), the Armenian genocide (1915-22), or the Rwandan genocide (1994). Incidentally, these three horrific carnages amount to 5.8 MM death total, which is less than the Holocaust alone. However, numbers are not everything; because any way you look at it, one death is one too many! All the genocides of history are tragic events showing how the deep depravity of the human race has led many to commit heinous crimes against their fellow men. There are no excuses for any of them.

I belong to the group of people who believe that the Holocaust was very unique and as such, holds a special place in the somber pantheon of crimes against humanity. My intention is not to minimize the atrocities of any of the other genocides of history. Every other genocide was a result of one people group declaring hegemony over another people group and committing ethnic cleansing to push that group into oblivion, or at least to get them to leave the area. This why I believe it was unique.

Only during the Holocaust were the victims hunted down by Nazis way beyond German borders. That is why it is unique. In any other genocides, the potential victims had an opportunity to move to a different area or even emigrate to another country and many did. In the case of the Holocaust, Nazis went out of their ways to round up all the Jews they could find in Europe. How far did they go? As far as the railroad systems of Europe would allow them. Cattle cars packed with over 80 people with no food, water, or sanitation were brought to camps and ghettos inside and outside of Germany. Foulness and humiliation soon followed, and many died during the journey. No visible Jew was safe anywhere in Europe. This obsession that Hitler had with bringing Jews back to their death was possibly a factor in his final defeat. In "The Destruction of European Jews", Historian Raul Hilberg quotes Heinrich Himmler who from 1943 onwards, was the Chief of German Police and Minister of the Interior, including the Gestapo and the Waffen-SS. Himmler was clear about his destructive goal. As Jews were being decimated and a potential war labor force with them, he was quoted saying, "Economic questions should not be considered in the solution to the Jewish question."  Hitler and his cohorts were so possessed with eradicating all Jews from Europe that they ignored everything else.

Why are we talking so much about the Holocaust?
A lot of people, including some Jewish people, feel that the Holocaust is discussed too much and too often. Frankly, I wish that I wouldn't have to discuss it so much, but I do. Nobody ever questions the Fall of the Roman Empire in AD 476 or the coronation of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804, as that would be irrational since it has been part of history for so long. Nobody ever doubted Sir Winston Churchill or Albert Einstein ever existed, because there are so much film footage and photographs of them. Yet, the Holocaust is now being put into question. Regardless of the myriad of recorded first-hand accounts, photographs, newsreels and artifacts, some people have the audacity to claim that it never happened. They are known as historical revisionists or Holocaust deniers. They write books, make movies and appear on TV programs, doing their very best to inculcate upon the uneducated minds of many the idea that the Holocaust was a hoax or at the very least Jewish propaganda to steal the land of Palestine and illegally settle the Jews in it. This is why I continue to speak about the Holocaust. Not to mention that one of the six million Jewish victims was my maternal grandfather Maurice Weinzveig, taken by the Gestapo out of his Paris home in the summer of 1942 to die a week later upon arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

What about the nonchalant use of the swastika by teenagers who tattooed it on their shoulders and posted their selfies on social networks? They either knew what it represents, ignored it, or worse... they used it as a slap in the face to the Jewish community. They possibly didn't know exactly what it means, which is another reason why Holocaust education must go on. If we don't, between the ignorance, fatigue and malicious deconstructing, in twenty years or less, the Holocaust will have become a myth that might not even get a mention in history books. God forbid!

So, now what? We all have to become Holocaust advocates and fight antisemitism as if we were the last person who believed in that fight. In that process, we are guaranteed to find more like-minded people who see the importance of Holocaust education and the fight against antisemitism and all other kinds of xenophobic habits.

As much as I believe that the Holocaust must be taught starting in Middle school and upwards, it is upon us to educate ourselves and share our knowledge within our own family units and various spheres of influence. We cannot wait for or rely on others to take on this important task. Here are a few things you can do to make sure the Holocaust is never forgotten and that the call of “never again” will be remembered:

Listen to a Holocaust survivor: As time passes by, for most of us, it can be challenging to meet one in person. The powerful work of the staff at The Holocaust and Antisemitism Foundation brings many testimonies from survivors on video, and by virtue of that medium, renders their unique stories eternal. Additionally, the Steven Spielberg Shoah Foundation has over 54,000 video testimonies of survivors that are there to stay. Every single one of them is poignant and memorable in its own way.

Visit a Death Camp: Walking alongside the one-way train tracks and through the eerily empty barracks and on the death-camp grounds will leave an indelible mark in your memory. The Death Camps are the gruesome monuments left over from one of the darkest periods of mankind’s history. If at all possible, everybody, and most definitely every Christian should walk through one of them once in their lifetime.

Visit a Holocaust Memorial Museum:  There are several Holocaust Memorials in the United States. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. or the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles are just two of the most impactful and fruitful in their respective communities and nationally. The list is much longer and warrants several different visits if possible.

Read an account of the Holocaust: From survivors’ accounts to biographies, historical accounts and even poems, the choices are many. Every human being should read the short but life-altering account of Elie Wiesel’s time at Auschwitz-Birkenau retold in Night, his story of resilience and survival against all odds.  A detailed and accurate account of the Holocaust can be found in Lucy Dawidowicz The War Against the Jews or in The destruction of the European Jews by Raul Hilberg. If you are not a reader, you can always watch Schindler's List.

It is our duty as human beings to remember the Holocaust, retell its history to the current and future generations and resist antisemitism by speaking-up against those who deny that it ever happened.  Don't rely on others to remember the uniqueness of the Holocaust! Don't wait for someone else to come alongside or speak up in your place. speak up and remember because it is the right thing to do!

Do we really need to talk so much about the Holocaust?

The further we move away from an event, the harder it is to remember it, its details and even its outcome. Any event enters the annals of history the minute they take place, and there is nothing man can do to erase that event from our collective memories. Nothing can take it away unless it is an event that the vast majority of people wish to forget or even tell the rest of the world it never happened. There are four types of people in any event of history: the victims, the helpers, the perpetrators and the bystanders. As it pertains to the Holocaust, they all need to be remembered.

Not only do we run the risk of forgetting an event, but we also run the risk of allowing history to repeat itself. When it comes to the Holocaust, it would be tragic on both levels. In January 2020, we remember the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau (1/25), and we also commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day (1/27). As Forty heads of states and key representatives gather to pay tribute to the victims and the helpers (Righteous Among the Nations), the rest of the world is invited to post a photo of themselves with the hashtag #WeRemember.

The beauty of a hashtag is that it inserts itself into the worldwide web to never disappear or be changed, and that has power in and of itself. Once composed and posted, a hashtag serves as a beacon bringing people to a particular topic, where all similar hashtags congregate. It can be very helpful. The downside of a hashtag is that too many people use them as gimmicks to satisfy their own conscience. Can someone post #WeRemember or #FightAntisemitism and feel satisfied that they have done their good deed to speak up against the Holocaust and antisemitism? Sure they can, but does it really help?

Hashtags alone only serve to point to the gravity of the Holocaust and the danger of the new antisemitism, as much as a repeated word can. Hashtags will not defeat Holocaust deniers, historical revisionists and antisemites. Hashtags are the bumper stickers of the twenty-first century, they make a statement in passing as they move to their eternal abode in cyberspace.

They don’t speak up, they don’t sign petitions, they don’t march on the street in protest, they can’t teach history, ethics or morality. We need people for all that. Create all the hashtags you want, they might tug on the strings of our hearts, but until we move into action, nothing will change.

We can do so much more:
• Visit one of the numerous US-based (30 states) Holocaust memorial/museums like the one in Washington DC or even Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. If you cannot visit a museum, get online to their sites and learn from their extensive databases and research tools.
• Read on the topic. Start with the autobiographical short book "Night" by Elie Wiesel. Move on to "The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945 by Lucy Dawidowicz. Then in an effort to understand how the Holocaust further affected Jewish/Christian relations, read "The Jewish People and Jesus Christ After Auschwitz" by Jakob Jocz.
• Please, share your knowledge with the next generation. Two-thirds of millennials do not know what Auschwitz was. Additionally, 22% of Americans have never heard of the Holocaust.
• Attend marches and/or protests in your city or near you if they take place to show your support to the Jewish community and your disagreement with the enemies of Israel.
• Be ready to even go further by helping Jewish people in dire need. We can be proactive in 2020 instead of reactive in the 1930s and 40s. Things might get worse before they get better.

The African American communities should not stop telling their people about slavery and segregation, just like the Native American communities should not stop educating their young ones about the poor treatment and fate of their forefathers. So, why should we stop speaking of the Holocaust and why should we let those who deny it, get away with it?

Remembering a happy and positive moment requires no action but simply bring pleasure as we reminisce. When we are called to remember a somber moment on mankind's timeline, remembering the event is just the tip of the iceberg. Sharing our memories, past experiences and teaching others about those events is key. Very soon, all the survivors of the Holocaust will be gone and the task of continuing to honor their memory will fall on those of us who still believe that the Holocaust happened and it could happen again.  So, YES, we need to continue talking about the Holocaust, today more than ever!

Holocaust Remembrance Day: More Relevant than Ever!

Yom HaShoah was voted by the Israeli Knesset as an official national memorial day in Israel in 1953. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion established that day as a yearly memorial for the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Every year since that day, Jewish people remember the Shoah or “Catastrophe” as they perpetuate the memory of the loved ones they lost in the Holocaust. In Israel, on that day, two minutes of silent reflection is observed at 10:00 AM as a siren is heard all over the country. It isn’t unusual to even see motorists stop in the middle of the road and get out of their cars to observe that solemn moment. This year, it takes place on the 27th of Nisan which happens to start at sundown on April 11.

The importance of perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust cannot be underestimated. It is not about dwelling on the past for the sake of dwelling on the darkest days of Jewish history, but rather for the sake of never allowing future generations to forget these events and possibly preventing another “Catastrophe” in the future.

Historically speaking, the Shoah is a unique genocide for at least one reason. It is the only attempt at annihilating a people group–The Jews–by even going outside of the area where they resided to gather them and bring them back to a certain death in the myriad of Death Camps. It was an orchestrated, organized attempt at the total destruction of European Jewry. With all other genocides, as brutal as they might have been, there was always a way for potential victims to escape and/or immigrate. This was rarely the case for the Jews during the Holocaust years. My maternal father Maurice Weinzveig was one of the six million. He died in Auschwitz on July 24, 1942. Here are four reasons why Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), is more relevant than ever:

• Holocaust denial continues to grow
How could we possibly go from NEVER AGAIN to NEVER HAPPENED in 75 years? Holocaust denial is gaining a lot of momentum globally. Holocaust denial officially got organized by Willis Carto (Liberty Lobby) in 1978 with the founding of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR). Even Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas wrote his dissertation in which he doubted the existence of the gas chambers and the high number of Jewish victims. Even though in 2014, he backpedaled to admit that the Holocaust was a heinous crime, his statements made in English and Arabic vary greatly. Some claim that the Holocaust never happened, some claim that it was greatly exaggerated, some claim that it was used as Jewish propaganda and some think that we talk too much about it. The frightening truth is that according to a recent survey by the ADL, 1/3 of the world population believes that the Holocaust was a myth... One third!

• Holocaust survivors are dwindling down to a very small number
As the years go by, Holocaust survivors are getting older and many of them are rapidly passing away. If a baby was born in the camps in 1945 and survived the horrors of the Holocaust, they would be 73 years old today. In reality, the vast majority of Holocaust survivors are in their mid-eighties at best, and even older. Within the next 20 years, the surviving witnesses of the Holocaust will have ALL DISAPPEARED, facilitating the propagating of lies by historical revisionists. Thanks to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the Spielberg Shoah Foundation, names, stories, artifacts and testimonies are added every day.

• The Holocaust might have been worse than we even thought
It was about 18 years ago when a team of their researchers started to gather data from about 400 different sources about the Holocaust, Camps and Ghettos of the 30s and 40s. Based on their preliminary studies and available records, they had estimated the number of ghettos, labor camps, concentration camps and extermination camps at about 7,000. In 2013, They published their findings and realized that the numbers were not 7,000 but over 42,500. It is hard to fathom that the horrors of the Holocaust could have been a lot worse if not in intensity, most definitely in numbers. This renders the excuse of those who claimed that "they didn't know it was happening", completely unrealistic. Considering these findings about the 42,500 camps and ghettos, not only more people had to be well aware of the events but possibly more bystanders might have been more than just watching. A bystander who does nothing only facilitate the work of a perpetrator. Bystanders became co-perpetrators by default!

• End-Times Antisemitism is on the rise
By downplaying the Holocaust, we run the risk of minimizing recent acts of antisemitism. The last decade has seen an exponential increase in acts of antisemitism all over the world. These acts are getting more frequent, more spread out and much more violent...to the point of death.  Until recently, antisemitism–as evil as it is– seldom claimed the lives of Jewish people. Since the Spring of 2012 and the "Toulouse Massacres", Jews are now fearing for their lives and for good reasons, they are leaving Europe. The recent death of French Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll is a tragic example of the growth of End-Times antisemitism. She was an 85-year old Holocaust survivor who lived alone in her Paris apartment. She was stabbed 11 times and then burned inside her home. The poor woman who barely survived the flames of the Auschwitz factory of death, ended-up losing her life in flames, as if in a personal Holocaust.

As we remember the victims, the survivors and their families, I would like to encourage you to visit the site Shadows of Shoah that presents the truth about the Holocaust. It is neither dramatized nor romanticized. The stories come from first-person interviews with survivors of the Shoah across the world. Considering the fact that fewer and fewer survivors are still alive today, there is a sense of urgency in this kind of work. As first-hand witnesses continue to disappear, the “Catastrophe” runs a greater risk of falling into oblivion.The simplicity of the presentation brings out the profound reality of the Shoah. Each survivor has his/her own ordeal to recall and relive in front of the camera and they do it with difficulty but with dignity. It gives the audience a sense of hope based on mankind’s resilience. Some of these people who came out of the Shoah as survivors are still with us, telling their story and letting us know that after they survived the horrors of the camps, they chose to live and to share. Shadows of Shoah brings truth, light and hope into a world that too often lacks all three.

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.  For not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead,  we are also responsible for what we are doing with those memories”  Elie Wiesel

The best way to remember the Holocaust is not with a hashtag!

On January 27, the whole world will be invited to remember the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust by observing International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This is an anniversary that was set-up by the United Nations and is different from the yearly Yom HaShoah (Day of the Catastrophe) that takes place in Israel in the spring. While I find much bias in how the UN views and portrays Israel, I must commend them for recognizing the Holocaust. We live at a time of history nearing the complete extinction of all the remaining survivors of the Holocaust, as most of them are now in their mid-eighties at least. The motto of "NEVER AGAIN" arose soon after the closing of World War Two and has been the on-going creed of all those who want the Holocaust to be remembered. Recently, people have been even more creative in prompting, challenging and encouraging others to remember. This year, the World Jewish Congress wants to reach 500 million people globally, who will post the hashtag #WeRemember or #IRemember on a multitude of platforms on the social networks. Hashtags are a very powerful way to express an idea and make it attach itself and multiply itself on the web like nothing else can. In and of themselves, they are not bad, but they can have a tendency to become counterproductive.

Many people around the globe will post pictures of themselves with a sign showing the hashtag, and they will feel good about themselves. They will get a feeling of righteous indignation against hatred. They will feel like they are part of a broad community of people holding virtual hands to speak up against the Holocaust and antisemitism, and in a small way, they will be, but for most, the remembrance will dissipate soon after. Hashtags are a good starting point or a good addition, but if we truly want to remember–And now more than ever is the time to do so– we should opt for other ways of looking at the Holocaust. As permanent as a hashtag can become on the web, it is very ephemeral in our minds. There are other options that will leave an indelible memory in all of us, and we should explore them if at all possible.

Listen to a Holocaust survivor: Their number is dwindling down very fast, but there are still ways for many of us to get first-person accounts of the horrors of the Holocaust. If you know such a person or have an opportunity to go listen to one, do not hesitate to go and listen. Their stories vary from one to the next, but they all are a testimony to the problem of evil within mankind and the deep hatred for the Jewish people. For many of us, it can be challenging to meet one in person. The closest thing to a physical meeting is a video testimony. The powerful work of the staff at Shadows of Shoah brings many testimonies from survivors on video, and by virtue of that medium, renders their unique stories eternal. Additionally, the Steven Spielberg Shoah Foundation has over 54,000 video testimonies of survivors that are there to stay. Every single one of them is poignant and memorable in its own way.

Visit a Death Camp: In 2010, I had the opportunity to travel to Krakow, Poland and visit the remains of Auschwitz-Birkenau. This meant a lot to me since my maternal Grandfather Maurice Weinzveig was taken there by the Gestapo, from Paris in the Summer of 1942. Walking alongside the empty barracks in the cold of winter, left a mark on my psyche. Had Maurice spent time in any of them or did he die on the train or the gas chambers upon arrival? I will never know. The Death Camps are gruesome and eerie monuments left over from one of the darkest periods of mankind's history. If at all possible, everybody, and most definitely every Christian should walk through one of them once in their lifetime.

Visit a Holocaust Memorial Museum: There are many such edifices that gather artifacts, photos and videos from the Holocaust. They make the events of the Jewish Catastrophe more real and tangible. The biggest and most elaborate of them–Yad Vashem–is located in Jerusalem. It is a difficult visit punctuated by visual and audio markers that will undoubtedly leave an impression on you for many years, well beyond the posting of any hashtag. There are several Holocaust Memorials closer to home in the United States. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. or the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles are just two of the most impactful and fruitful in their respective communities and nationally. The list is much longer and warrants several different visits if possible.

Read an account of the Holocaust: There is a tremendous global collection of Holocaust literature. From survivors' accounts to biographies, historical accounts and even poems. Every human being should read the short but life-altering account of Elie Wiesel's time at Auschwitz-Birkenau with his father when he was only 15. As told in his autobiography Night, his story of resilience and survival against all odds is very dark. Another powerful account coupled with a symposium from famous survivors is found in Simon Wiesenthal's The Sunflower. A detailed and accurate account of the Holocaust can be found in Lucy Dawidowicz The War Against the Jews or in The destruction of the European Jews by Raul Hilberg.

Any of these options or all of them if possible will work a lot further than a clever hashtag. The Holocaust cannot afford to be relegated to a single string of two or three words. We are minimizing the gravity of the event by posting hashtags. The virtual remembrance that is brought by the clever use of a hashtag will quickly become empty without the personal experiences, stories and accounts that can be lived through survivors, camps, museums and literature. Since most of us were not there in the camps and probably not even born at the time, what are we really saying when we say #WeRemember? At the very least, we ought to listen to the few survivors introduced on Shadows of Shoah , and then we can honestly say that we remember what they shared.

It is our duty as human beings to remember the Holocaust, share its history with the future generations and speak-up against those who deny that it ever happened.

The best way to do all this IS NOT just with a hashtag!

Holocaust Memory: What Would Elie Wiesel Do?

Eliezer Wiesel was born in 1928 in Romania. He was fifteen when he and his whole family were deported to Auschwitz. He spent most of his internment in the camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, with his father Shlomo. Elie Wiesel survived the horrors of the Holocaust. He was greatly motivated by the desire to take care of his beloved father who unfortunately died in Buchenwald just a few weeks before the liberation of that camp. One of his three sisters and his mother also perished in the camps. Elie had become a Holocaust survivor and an orphan at age 17.

Elie Wiesel passed away on July 2nd , 2016 at the age of 87. In a sense, the passing of this giant is the silencing of one voice who for six decades, as he continued to live through the nightmares of his gruesome experience, chose to perpetuate Holocaust memory in any way he could. He leaves behind him 57 books, too numerous to list or recommend here except for Night, written in 1960, that should be a must read for everyone. Night is Elie Wiesel's Memoir of his time in the Death Camps with his father. Among the myriad of awards and recognitions that he accumulated over the years, Wiesel received the Nobel Peace prize in 1986. But to him, even in his last days, much remained to be accomplished to remember the past and alleviate a similar future.

To Wiesel, apathy or indifference was one the worst evil in the world.   That is exactly why he spent the bulk of his life educating a world in shock that later morphed into a numb world to eventually become the postmodern world in denial that it currently is. He once said "I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead. and anyone who does not remember betrays them again."  He had always felt guilty of not being able to do more for his dad during their imprisonment in the camps. He felt that he didn't deserve to live as he also wrote "that I survived the Holocaust and went on to love beautiful girls, to talk, to write, to have toast and tea and live my life - that is what is abnormal."

Beyond a powerful legacy, he leaves us with a tremendous challenge. We must continue his fight.  If we remain silent, his voice will fade away into oblivion or worse, get relegated to a couple of statements about an event that many are already starting to doubt. The world cannot afford to be silent, apathetic or indifferent.

The Holocaust took place more than 75 years ago which means that any survivor still alive today would be at least 75 years old–as unlikely as it might be–if they were born in the camps. The average age of all holocaust survivors today is closer to 80. Logically, the 500,000 worldwide Holocaust survivors, will all be gone within ten years...and then what? I fear that beyond the respectful eulogies and posthumous accolades Wiesel receives, people will quickly move back to their busy lives and allow the revisionists and antisemites to win the next battle.

We must continue to educate people about the Holocaust. There are numerous Holocaust memorials and museum throughout the world, many of them in the United-States. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Wasshington, D.C (whose founding chairman was Elie Wiesel) is one of them. Visit the one nearest you and make sure you accompany yourselves with some people from the next generation. This goes along with Wiesel's statement that "Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future."

We must also continue to speak up against any form of xenophobia, being antisemitism or any other kind. Wiesel came out of the camps barely alive, but he still had enough breath to keep fighting. He wasn't only the ambassador of Holocaust remembrance, but also spoke against any and all ills rooted in racism. The current threat of a global annihilation of Israel and the Jews is very real. Europe is on high alert, Israel has been on edge since 1948 and the rest of the world can often be found on the forefront of the new antisemitism, blindly demonizing the Jews. Be aware and sensitive to what is happening in your own community and be responsive to defend and even lend a hand when needed. It is always appropriate to reach out and help those in need, even if they turn you down, your intentions will not go unnoticed.

In Night, Wiesel capsulized the agonizing feeling of not being able to forget the atrocities of the Holocaust " Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never."

To honor the memory of Elie Wiesel is more than appropriate, but to remember the Holocaust is vital to the survival of Western civilization. As a matter of fact, to remember the Holocaust and teach it to the next generation IS to honor the memory of Elie Wiesel.

Why Do We Still Remember?

January 27 is International Holocaust Memorial Day and this year also happens to be the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Soon after the 1945 opening of the death camps and rescuing of those who had miraculously survived, a motto was born: NEVER AGAIN. Emaciated walking corpses believed in that statement and many of them tried to look towards a brighter future or any future if even possible. Seventy years later, most of these survivors have passed. Could it be that they have taken their motto with them?

As it appears in some places, there is a tragic "Holocaust fatigue" plaguing the world these days. The BBC just tweeted the following statement: " Is the time coming to lay the Holocaust to rest?", demonstrating quite clearly that they either have a very short memory of the events of two weeks ago in Paris or that they simply are clueless about what is appropriate. But they are not alone in this postmodern quest to minimize the Shoah. They might not be deniers or revisionists but in their process of watering down the "Catastrophe" or even asking such a question, are they helping those who flat out reject the Holocaust? So they ask the question: 'Why do we remember ?" I could answer that question but instead, I will let Evelyn do that.

In the 1970's, Evelyn was in her forties, sitting in a park on the east side of Paris, watching her young boy playing with schoolmates after school had let out. This was a daily routine for Evelyn, as she was sitting on a park bench watching people. Suddenly she overheard two ladies that she knew from her small town having a discussion. It wasn't long before the two ladies started to denigrate the Jews in their own words. Evelyn knew them and they knew her. She had not told them or anybody in town that she was Jewish, but that day was too much, so she interrupted the ladies and with all the boldness she could muster, she looked them in the eyes and said:" You know that I am Jewish, right?" The two ladies were taken aback and very embarrassed, while Evelyn was liberated from the prison of her Jewish identity.

That afternoon, as Evelyn walked back to her house with her son, I wonder how much better she really felt? I wonder if when she approached her home, she remembered the day some 25 years ago when she saw the Gestapo coming to that very house and taking her father Maurice to his death in Auschwitz -Birkenau? As she walked through the small corridor leading to her front door, she could probably visualize her father hiding in the cellar in 1942, right under her feet.

It had taken 25 years for Evelyn to dare speaking out and telling others she was Jewish. She remembered the time she spent in the South West of France, hiding on a farm in a small village near the town of Pau. She didn't know it then, but her life was being preserved by a family of simple peasants who would later be recognized as "Righteous Gentiles" by Yad Vashem.

Evelyn is now 87 and she still lives in the same house. She has had a full life. She has two children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. In a sense, that is the best revenge that the Jewish people could have had after the Shoah. Survivors got up, got better and started families to prove once more that God will never completely forsake Israel (Jeremiah 31:35-37).

Evelyn remembers all these events very well. But she is scared again. When the Paris terrorist attacks of early 2015 took place, she was very nervous. The Kosher Supermarket was only a few hundred yards from the house she lives in and only 30 yards from one of her granddaughters' apartment. When her son called to check on her and ask her to stay inside, she started crying and said:" They're coming back aren't they"? Her son didn't quite know what to say.

Why do we still remember the Shoah? Because current antisemitism could lead to another catastrophe if we allow our minds to even entertain the idea that the Shoah needs to be archived into history.

Why do we still remember the Shoah? Because people like Evelyn are real and they went through a real nightmare.

Why do we still remember the Shoah isn't even the question to ask.

Evelyn is my mother, and the real question is: "How dare we forget?"