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!

Have We Learned Anything From Kristallnacht?

77 years ago during the night of November 9-10, 1938, Jewish people, businesses and synagogues suffered greatly throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria and Czechoslovakia. This ominous night continues to be remembered as Kristallnacht or “the Night of Broken Glass”. It consisted of a series of pogroms (organized riots) against Jewish communities during which 267 synagogues and 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed. It also resulted in 91 Jewish people being killed. Additionally, 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps.  Joseph Goebbels orchestrated the whole thing. Reputable historians see Kristallnacht as the inception of the “Final Solution to the Jewish Problem” that is the Holocaust.

The reason given for Kristallnacht was the assassination of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by a young Polish Jew living in Paris at the time. The life of one German man precipitated the destruction of thousands of Jewish properties and the deportation and death of millions of Jews. In reality the death of Ernst Vom Rath was simply a pretext for pogroms and mass boycotts against the Jewish community.Remembering Kristallnacht is crucial for our global village. We live in a postmodern and post Christian world under the constant threat of historical revisionism. Holocaust deniers are indeed gaining ground as most of the few remaining Camp survivors are now dying off. So we must not only remember Kristallnacht, but we must also learn from this tragic night. Looking at how the world is handling this important memorial of Nazi boycott and the official launch of the Holocaust, I wonder if we have actually learned anything from Kristallnacht?

Germany should of course tread very, very lightly when it comes to Kristallnacht, but instead we see some odd behaviors like the march of the Pegida Far Right party on the day of the anniversary of Kristallnach. In Dresden, one of the many German cities where the Pegida marches regularly take place, a local cultural organization was very troubled: "it was 'incomprehensible' that Pegida was allowed to hold the march on Monday night. 'Kristallnacht is one of the darkest nights in the German history, the association was quoted by the regional Dresden newspaper 'Sächsische Zeitung' as saying. 'We cannot understand this decision and are sad and deeply ashamed. It shows that we are giving space to hatred.'"

I join the concerned Germans who voiced their outrage at the fact that a "neo-Nazi" party would be allowed to march on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. This is just another reason why I have identified and named this new wave Jew hatred, End-Times anti-Semitism, because of its irrational mix of all previous brands of anti-Semitism.

Additionally, Munich allowed for a BDS event (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) to take place on the same November 9 night. As most of the BDS events and propaganda, this event hid behind the the facade of boycott against the "Jewish State" when in reality it prescribes not buying from Jews. Germany is currently dealing with a tremendous wave of refugees that will possibly reach 1,500,000 but year's end. While I believe that Germany is going overboard with their refugees intake, I commend Mrs. Merkel for her desire to reach out and help needy immigrants. But I can't help but wonder if Chancellor Merkel's approach to immigration isn't a knee-jerk reaction still connected to the post-war German collective guilt? And if indeed that is the case, why are the Jewish people brushed aside by minimizing the anniversary of Kristallnacht?

Sweden is also contributing to this Kristallnacht "Twilight Zone." The city of Umea organized a Kristallnacht memorial but for some odd reason, the Jewish community wasn't invited. One of the reasons given by the organizers was that Jewish people wouldn't be appropriately protected in case of anti-Jewish activity.  Some officials worried about how the whole event would unravel"In previous years, we have had a lot of Palestinian flags at these rallies, and even one banner where the Israeli flag was equated with a swastika," organizer and local Workers' Party member Jan Hägglund told locals. "The Jewish community wasn't invited because we assumed they might be uncomfortable around that sort of thing."

Seriously,  if Palestinians equating Israel to the new Nazis of the Middle East seems to be a concern, why don't they ban Palestinians from a Kristallnacht commemoration? This backwards diplomacy is oxymoronic and so counter-productive, not to mention anti-Semitic.Another event took place in Amsterdam where Arab MK Hanin Zoabi denounced Israel as being a modern day Nazi state. She was participating in yet another Kristallnacht commemoration, but didn't see the irony–not to call it anti-Semitism–of describing Israel in similar terms as Nazi Germany "The Israeli rules, said Zoabi, are similar to the conditions under which Jews lived at the time of the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom in Germany."

I fear that the world hasn't learned much from the events of November 9-10, 1938. Kristallnacht is about Jews being ostracized, demonized and massacred, period. If some countries cannot recognize that simple historical fact, they should refrain from organizing memorials of this infamous night in Jewish history. Their hypocrisy could be replaced by indifference, but at least, we would all know where they stand on Israel and the Jewish people. That of course requires global chutzpah, which is in short supply these days!

Yom HaShoah: Retell the Story or Repeat History! | by Olivier Melnick

It was in 1953, only eight years after the close of World War Two that Yom HaShoah became an official national memorial day in Israel. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion established that day as a yearly memorial of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Since then, every year and all over the world, Jewish people remember the Shoah or "Catastrophe" as they perpetuate the memory of their lost, loved ones. In Israel, on that day, a minute 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.

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. 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.

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 preventing another "Catastrophe" in the future.

General Dwight Eisenhower caught the importance of documenting and remembering the Holocaust the minute that he walked inside the camps. As he visited one of the sub-camps of Buchenwald with Generals Bradley and Patton, he started to realize the magnitude of what he was witnessing and immediately wrote a letter to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General George Marshall in which he said: ...The things I saw beggar description. 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....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 a tendency to charge these allegations merely to “propaganda.”
And yet, despite the commendable efforts made by Eisenhower and others, the Holocaust currently runs the risk of being relegated into some obscure corner of history, even worse...Some will soon believe that it simply never happened.
How could we possibly go from NEVER AGAIN to NEVER HAPPENED in 70 years? Holocaust denial is gaining a lot of momentum globally. Consider this:

Unfortunately, I could keep adding to this list. The point is that in 2015, 70 years after the events of the Shoah, we run the great risk of forgetting it. The last remaining survivors are in their 80s and 90s, with some even over 100 years old. It will not be long before we will no longer be able to talk to anyone who lived through that era. That is one reason why it is crucial to repeat and repeat the story of the Holocaust. The dwindling number of survivors coupled with the sick desire of some to negate the whole tragedy is a very dangerous combination.

Of course, much of history remains recorded for us in numerous books, journals and pictures. But as it pertains to Israel and the Jewish people, once again the standards are different. I am convinced that with an evergrowing animosity for the Jewish state and the global Jewish community, many would feel no guilt if the Holocaust ceased to be remembered, commemorated or even acknowledged.

Iran is working around the clock to acquire a nuclear bomb, Hamas has the destruction of Israel as part of its charter, many liberals and academics are preaching anti-Semitic messages on university campuses and even extreme right-wingers are now resurfacing.

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!

If you and I do not retell the story of the Holocaust to our peers and our children, history will repeat itself! Yom HaShoah might be one day a year, remembering the Shoah must remain an on-going daily effort.

In memory of my Grandfather Maurice Weinzveig, born 4 December 1898, Olikka, Russia
Who perished in Auschwitz. One in six million.

 NEVER AGAIN

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?"