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).

Remembering Some Unexpected Heroes of the Holocaust!

Every year around this time, Israel commemorates Yom Ha Shoah, or "The Day of the Catastrophe". It was first commemorated in 1951, and a law was later passed by the Knesset in 1959 to make it an official holiday. It was known as the Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day Law. The official day is the 27th of Nisan, which falls a week after Passover and eight days before Yom Ha'azmaut (Israel's Independence Day).  In Israel, at 10:00 AM, a siren sounds and almost everybody stops what they are doing, including motorists on highways getting out of their vehicles, to observe two minutes of silent reflection for the victims and heroes of the Holocaust. It is one of the most solemn moments on the Jewish calendar, observed by religious and secular Jews alike.

As the Law passed by the Knesset is called Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day Law, each year, we remember the six-million innocent victims of Hitler and his Nazi regime, helped by co-perpetrators across Europe. Remembering the victims is critical if we want to keep history intact and learn from it. Incidentally, if we were to keep a brief moment of silence for the six-million victims, it would require us to be completely silent for 11.5 years non-stop. But what about the heroes of the Shoah? What about the people who risked their lives to help Jewish people? Better yet, what about all the unknown heroes of the Shoah, without whom the world would have lost much more than six million Jews? Without forgetting the six million–one of them being my maternal grandfather, Maurice Weinzveig who perished at Auschwitz–we need to pay tribute to some incredible unsung heroes of the Shoah. Let's also keep in mind that those who hid Anne Frank were breaking the law and those who killed her were following it!

We have all heard about Oskar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg and Corrie Ten Boom. They are some of the most known heroes of the Holocaust, and rightfully so, but this year let me introduce you to a few other heroes that have been in the shadow of history for too long.

Ho-Feng-Shan (1901-1997): Ho-Feng-Shan was born in China at the turn of the 20th century. He started out as a writer and diplomat for the Republic of China before he was appointed Consul-General of China in Vienna, Austria in 1937. Not long after his move to Vienna and against his government and the German authorities, Ho-Feng-Shan started to issue visas, especially after Kristallnacht in November 1938. He had issued 2,000 visas to Jews in the first six months of his tenure as Consul-General, which leads many historians to believe that by the time he was called back to China in 1940, he had issued many thousands of transit visas to Shanghai. No visas were required to enter Shanghai, but the papers helped Jews cross the border towards Italy and Switzerland with Chinese visas. Later, when asked why he did it, he answered, "It was just natural to feel compassion for those persecuted and help them. It was what had to be done” In 2001, he received the Yad Vashem Medal of Righteous Among the Nations posthumously.

Dr. Hans-Georg Calmeyer (1901-1972): Born in Osnabrück, Germany, Calmeyer was stationed in the Netherlands during WWII. He was put in charge of the Interior Administration which also handled "Jewish Affairs". While Jews in Germany had no recourse to try proving they were not Jewish, in the Netherlands, they could provide papers to document their ancestry and find loopholes in the system to escape certain death. Calmeyer saw an opportunity to disobey his superiors and started to accept false papers from Jewish people. He was credited for having saved at least 4,000 Jews, even though he received some serious complaints from the Nazi party. After the war, he rarely spoke of his actions. In 1992, he received the Yad Vashem Medal of Righteous Among the Nations posthumously.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski (1922-2015): He was a Polish politician and social activist. He participated in the defense of Warsaw against the Nazi forces and as a result, was sent to Auschwitz. After Auschwitz, he met Catholic Priest Jan Zieja, with whom he had this dialogue:
– How could all this be God’s will?
– Don’t think about why God allows evil. Think about why God saved you. It was for a reason, wasn’t it? It was for a purpose. Bear witness to the truth. You saw how people are suffering. Help them!– Help who?
– Help those who need it.
– But who needs it?
– Those who are suffering the most.
– But I’m a student, Father. I have no resources with which I can do anything great.
– So do something small, but don’t turn your face away. People in the ghetto are suffering. Help them.
He joined the Polish Underground in 1941 after his release and became a leader of Zegota (The Council for the Aid of Jews). Zegota was responsible for saving several thousand Jews and, according to one estimate, 40,000 to 50,000 Jews benefited in some way from its activities. He also fought during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In 1965, he received the Yad Vashem Medal of Righteous Among the Nations.

Eduardo Propper De Callejon (1895-1972): He was the Secretary of the Spanish Embassy in Paris during the Holocaust years. In July of 1940 alone, he issued 30,000 visas to Jews of France and Spain to allow them to get into Portugal. After a while, he was exposed and transferred to Rabat, Morocco. He is credited for having facilitated the escape of more than 30,000 Jews. He never received any recognition in his lifetime. In 2007, he received the Yad Vashem Medal of Righteous Among the Nations posthumously.

Vesel and Fatima Veseli (1895-1972): Vesel and Fatima Veseli were a Muslim couple who lived in a small village in Albania during WW2. Albania was predominantly Muslim and was one of the first countries invaded by Italy which was Germany's ally at the time. The Veselis took in the Mandil family who were Jews in dire need of protection. The whole village was friendly to Jewish people during the occupation. In the Muslim holy book, the Qur'an, it says, "Whoever saves one life, saves all of mankind" (Al-Ma'idah 5:32), which is very similar to the Talmudic quote saying, "Anyone who saves a life is as if he saved an entire world." (Sanhedrin 4:5). The Veselis went out of their way to hide, protect and feed the Mandils, going as far as dressing them like Muslims to move them around more freely. In 1987, they received the Yad Vashem Medal of Righteous Among the Nations posthumously.

These unknown people from around the world are a few unsung heroes of the Holocaust. Without their unconditional and compassionate involvement, many more Jews would have become the innocent casualties of the evil of Hitler and his regime. They had much in common, as they became heroes of this great human catastrophe. They acted as good Samaritans (Luke 10:29-37). They were breaking the Law. They knew the risk they were taking (Esther 4:15-16). They were creative with what was at their disposal (Joshua 2:4-7). They never worried about how many or how few people they helped. Yet today, many believers are in a place where we are soon going to have to decide how we can help Jewish people in dire need of protection and provision again. Surely, many believers will display the same qualities that these earlier heroes had, but as disciples of Yeshua, we have much more:

1. WE UNDERSTAND GOD’S PROMISES
• To bless those who bless the Jews (Gen. 12:3)
• To curse those who curse the Jews (Gen.12:3)
• To never forsake Israel (Jeremiah 31:35-27)
• To go after the enemies of Israel (Zech. 12:9)
• To watch over Israel 24/7 (Psalm 121:4)
• To never change (Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6)
• To have Yeshua return BECAUSE of the Jews calling on Him (Zechariah 12:10)

2. WE UNDERSTAND GOD’S POWER
• The Gospel is the power of God (Romans 1:16)
• The Word of the cross is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18)
• The whole universe is His (1 Chronicles 29:11)
• His greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:3)
• Nothing is too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:27)

3. WE UNDERSTAND GOD’S PROVISION
We are valuable to God (Luke 12:24)
• God will meet all our NEEDS (Philippians 4:19)
• God provides for those who seek Him (Psalm 34:10)
• There are no limits to God’s provision (Luke 9:1—17)

Heroes are rarely if ever, self-proclaimed. They are usually recognized after the fact, but sometimes they remain in the shadows of history. As we commemorate Yom HaShoah, let us never forget the six million, but let us also recognize and express our gratitude to the many who selflessly reached out to Jewish people in dire need. They are some of the people God used to continue to keep His promise that He will never forsake Israel. May their memory be a blessing and may they become models for what's to come!

Orthodox Rabbis Confirming End-Times Prophecy?

An article emerged a few days before Christmas claiming that "Rabbis Bring Jesus Home for Christmas." Naturally, it got my attention.  Not to mention the fact that several people sent the article to me and expressed their excitement after reading it.  Over two dozen orthodox rabbis from around the world issued a joint statement "calling for a renewed look at Jesus, Christians and the New Testament faith. " Frankly, I live for moments like these, so my initial reaction was a joyful surprise. Are some orthodox rabbis truly accepting the Messiahship of Yeshua (Jesus)? Have these men become Messianic believers? Could this be the start of a revival within the global Jewish community? The conclusion might surprise you!

The article was written by an Israeli Jewish believer in Yeshua, David Lazarus, who mentioned Yeshua several times. It quotes the rabbis saying, “Jesus brought a double goodness to the world,” further claiming that Yeshua "strengthened the Torah of Moses." Lazarus quoted other parts of the Rabbis' statement that clearly indicated the desire for true rapprochement between Christians and Jews. Considering the times we live in, this could be very good news. This will certainly not eradicate antisemitism since the longest hatred–a spiritual battle generated and fueled by Satan–will not come to an end until Yeshua returns at the end of the seven-year Tribulation. Can it help in the healing of Jewish/Christian relations? Absolutely, and this alone is a reason to rejoice!

My intention is not to burst the bubble of hope created by the statement, but before Israel-loving evangelicals rejoice, we might want to take a look at the statement itself. While it offers many positives, they are not necessarily what Christians might think. It was spearheaded by a commendable organization called the "Center for Jewish–Christian Understanding & Cooperation." In their mission statement, they declare the following, "Now that we as a people and a nation have returned to history, and the Christian world is beginning to recognize the continuing legitimacy of its elder brother’s covenant, grafting itself onto us as a branch is grafted to the roots, we must each complete our return to God, join hands and bring a religion of love, morality, pluralism and peace to a desperate, thirsting world. " Additionally, the statement dates from 2015. I am not sure why it was quoted as if it was recent, but it raises some very important questions that still need to be addressed.

The goal is to work towards rebuilding Jewish/Christian relations. While they certainly do not speak for all Jewish denominations across the spectrum, being a group of orthodox, pious Torah scholars pushing for a better world through mutual acceptance certainly deserves our attention. The topics discussed in their statement include Judaism, Christianity, God, Jesus and antisemitism. Here are some of the points they make that are worth analyzing to understand their desire further. The statement divides into seven articles, each worth mentioning. The bold part summarizes the main point made in the statement, followed by my analysis.

1. Failure of Jews and Christians to reconcile after the Holocaust created fertile soil for antisemitism to grow: The Holocaust (Shoah) remains a unique defining catastrophe on the timeline of Jewish history. While it is true that 2,000 years of animosity and violence coming from the Church were a major factor leading to the death of six million Jews (among other groups), not all perpetrators were Christians. In fact, it could be argued–maybe in another article–that none of the perpetrators and bystanders of the Holocaust were true Christians. Nevertheless, the abysmal divide between Christians and Jews that resulted from the Holocaust allowed other enemies of the Jews to contribute further to the erosion of Judeo/Christian relations. So, in a sense, it is true that this loss of trust resulted in further damage.

2. The Second Vatican Council (1965) contributed to a reconciliation between Jews and Christians: This was a milestone for the Catholic Church. Finally, after more than 1,900 years, it was officially declared that the Jewish people shouldn't be held responsible for the death of Christ. This has indeed led to more interfaith dialogue and well-needed healing between Jews and Catholics.

3. The emergence of Christianity is G-d's way to separate partners, not enemies:  19th-century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli once said that “Christianity is Biblical Judaism fulfilled.”  What a simple but powerful statement!  Unfortunately, a theological wedge was placed between Jews and Christians. It progressively grew and separated the two. In their statement, the contemporary rabbis quote respected giants of Judaism, Maimonides (Rambam) and Judah HaLevi as their inspiration to accept Christianity as a valid religion. The signatories further declare, "Now that the Catholic Church has acknowledged the eternal Covenant between G-d and Israel, we Jews can acknowledge the ongoing constructive validity of Christianity as our partner in world redemption, without any fear that this will be exploited for missionary purposes." The goal is clear from the statement, it is "world redemption," also known in Judaism as Tikkun Olam. Not to be missed is the last part of that paragraph stating that the signatories do not fear Christian conversion due to this new relationship. Would all Christians truly adhere to a complete cessation of sharing the Gospel for the sake of reconciliation? This might be too broad a statement.

4. It is G-d's desire for Christians to be loving partners: I couldn't agree more with that part of the declaration. Bible-believing Christians have no choice but to love and support the Jewish people (Genesis 12:1-3; Psalm 83:1-5). The way Christians express their love may vary, though. It can go from regular prayer for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) to humanitarian help to sharing the Gospel. Yet, it would seem that sharing the Gospel with the Jewish people didn't make the cut on the list of proof of why Judaism and Christianity should work together. I tend to believe that the acceptance of Yeshua's free gift of salvation through His death and resurrection for our sins IS the ultimate way to love the Jewish people.

5. Jews and Christians have more in common than what separates them:  The rabbis continued by listing what connects Jews and Christians "The ethical monotheism of Abraham; the relationship with the One Creator of Heaven and Earth, Who loves and cares for all of us; Jewish Sacred Scriptures; a belief in a binding tradition; and the values of life, family, compassionate righteousness, justice, inalienable freedom, universal love and ultimate world peace."  The reason we speak of Judeo/Christian ethics is that the same principles are at the foundation of Judaism and biblical Christianity. We truly have much to gain in mutual acceptance. It will lead to cooperation and Christians and Jews are now at a crossroads where working together can only strengthen us against the enemy.

6. A true partnership doesn't negate differences; it embraces them: The statement continues by clearly speaking of two different religions for two different communities, allowing for God to "employ many messengers to reveal His truth." This is where I get nervous because this sounds like there is more than one way to get to G-d. Is the G-d of Judaism the same G-d found in Christianity? Well, if we believe that “Christianity is Biblical Judaism fulfilled," the answer must be yes! But do we get to G-d the same way? It seems that within Judaism, we strive to keep Torah to hopefully be accepted by G-d. In contrast, within Christianity, we strive to serve and obey G-d after He accepted us in His family through Yeshua's sacrificial death and resurrection. These are theological polar opposites.

7. Christians and Jews can redeem the world: In their concluding paragraph, the signatories boldly declared, "In imitating G-d, Jews and Christians must offer models of service, unconditional love and holiness. We are all created in G-d’s Holy Image, and Jews and Christians will remain dedicated to the Covenant by playing an active role together in redeeming the world." This, again, is the concept of Tikkun Olam. It speaks of redeeming or repairing the world to make it a better place for all mankind. While the concept is very commendable when one reads the whole counsel of G-d, the narrative leads us toward a universal need for a redeemer for mankind. That redeemer came two thousand years ago in the person of Yeshua, who paid the ultimate price by dying for our sins (Isaiah 52:13-53:12).  So, in the spirit of Tikkun Olam, only Yeshua can repair the world, and He will do just that at His Second Coming.

So, where does that leave this group of rabbis who are desperately trying to usher in a genuine reconciliation between Christians and Jews? There is nothing wrong with their noble effort. This will help both communities fight bigotry and antisemitism together better. Yet, this is not the same as claiming Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world, which the article never does. By calling for more common ground between the two communities, this group of orthodox rabbis might help soften the hearts of many Jewish people towards Christians and biblical Christianity. Still, they never claim that Yeshua is the Messiah.

Could it be that these honorable Jewish men from all around the world are setting the stage for the coming of the 144,000 Jewish men who will play a key role in sharing the message of salvation during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7)? Without setting dates but looking at work events through the lens of end-times prophecies, it is entirely possible that some of them might even be part of the 144,000 unbeknownst to them as of yet.

No matter how you look at it, this statement seems to be another piece in the end-times puzzle, and the final picture is becoming so clear!

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!

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!

Are we talking too much about the Holocaust?

We live at a time when Jewish people are being accused of dwelling unnecessarily on the memory of the Holocaust   . But at the same time we are seeing swastikas being painted on doors, walls and even tombstones, globally.

Mahmoud Abbas was unanimously re-elected as leader of Fatah and the West is supposed to get excited about the man who they believe could make peace with Israel. Let us not forget that he is a Holocaust denier and has written his thesis in 1982 on that very topic under the title: The Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement.

Populist parties are gaining tremendous ground in Europe as the desire to stop and control the migrant crisis becomes a priority. With them, they bring the deep rooted European racial antisemitism that we thought was defunct.

It was only a couple of years ago that I was on the streets of Paris hearing people marching and chanting “Jews to the ovens.” It really seems that a lot of people are either denying the Holocaust, wanting another one or worse… are clueless about the first one!

I don’t think that we speak too much of the Holocaust but I think that we don’t speak about it in its proper context.

Scholars, philosophers, theologians and historians have all grappled with the Holocaust, trying to come to terms with the immensity of its evil in strength and scope. Some within classical Jewish religious thought believe that the Holocaust was God’s retribution or “pay-back” for Israel’s sins. In other words, it was God’s desire to discipline Israel for her sins and as such, was part of God’s plan all along.

The common name for it is Mi-penei hata ‘ einu (Hebrew for “because of our sins we were punished.”) It refers to Divine punishment for the sins of Israel. It is true that the Tenach is replete with stories about the sins of Israel and their consequential discipline from God.

Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize laureate, Elie Wiesel wrote in 1962 of the religious Jewish reaction to the Holocaust in Commentary Magazine: The feeling of guilt was, to begin with, essentially a religious feeling. If I am here, it is because God is punishing me; I have sinned, and I am expiating my sins. I have deserved this punishment that I am suffering.[1]

Wiesel, along with many others, feel that while the punishment inflicted by the Holocaust might not be proportionate to the sins committed by Israel, but they are related. Incidentally, if one believes that–as the Bible teaches–the price for our sins is death (Ezekiel 18:4), then the Holocaust could be justified. But why would God wait almost two thousand years to punish Israel, and why inflict pain and suffering on generations that are so far removed from the previous ones?

Others will see Israel as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12. They will assign the suffering of the Holocaust to all Israel (all Jewish people.) While it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss the meaning of the Isaiah 53 chapter, it’ll simply be stated that this controversial passage definitely speaks of suffering, humiliation and death in no uncertain terms, but it can also refer to a person and not Israel as a whole. If indeed it refers to a person in particular, Yeshua of Nazareth is the only one who would fit that description, especially since towards the end of the passage after humiliation, suffering and death comes resurrection.

Some speak of Hester Panim (“hiding of the face,”) also known as “the eclipse of God.” Psalm 44:23-24 speak of God hiding His face: Arouse Yourself, why do You sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not reject us forever.Why do You hide Your face And forget our affliction and our oppression?

Was God absent during the Holocaust? From the standpoint of protecting the victims from suffering and death, it would certainly appear to be true. Each and every one of the six-million innocent victims–if they could speak– would most likely testify of God’s absence or lack of involvement.

Yet, when we speak of the eclipse of God, we must recall what an eclipse is all about; a visual disappearance while the physical presence remains. In other words, God might have been eclipsed or might have been hiding His face during the Holocaust, but He was always there and always within reach. Not always was He there, but He felt the pain of the victims as Isaiah 63:9 tells us: In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them,

Many religious people, Jewish and gentiles ended up in the camps. If God was silent, some of His people weren’t.  The eclipse of God was not because He didn’t care but possibly because for a time, He removed Himself from the affairs of men, leaving the fate of many in the hands of a few. At the very least, He allowed for the Jewish people not to be under His protection like He had done repeatedly in the long history of the children of Israel.

Isaiah tells us that God cared as he suffered affliction for His people. Additionally, God took no pleasure in the death of the many. Even assuming that Israel was being punished by the Holocaust for being wicked–a case that cannot be made with absolute certainty– the prophet Ezekiel speaks of God when he writes: Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live.

Maybe the Holocaust is simply the proof that God is dead. That is the conclusion made by most Jewish people who survived the Holocaust or were born after 1945. Again Elie Wiesel, this time in his seminal work Night, depicts the agonizing hanging of a young boy: “Where is God? Where is He?” someone behind me asked…. For more than half an hour [the child in the noose] stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed. Behind me, I heard the same man asking: “Where is God now?” And I heard a voice within me answer him: “Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows.”[2]

But if God died during the Holocaust, why did it come to a halt in 1945? The Nazi war machine was well oiled and extremely efficient. The liberation of the Camps and the capitulation of Germany would militate towards God not being dead and on the contrary being instrumental in the end of World War Two. This is also in line with His promise to never completely destroy Israel as found in the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 31:35-37.)

I could continue to look at the Holocaust and wrestle further with causes for it. Regardless of how many approaches with come up with, we will most certainly come back to evil being at the core of the “Catastrophe.”

This lead us to the problem of evil. The existence of evil in the world is something that is highly debated. Very few believe that evil doesn’t exist. The Holocaust and how low humanity could bring itself were a proof that evil exists.

Hitler wasn’t insane, which would exonerate him of all responsibility for the “Final Solution to the Jewish problem.” Hitler was pure evil! But even when we recognize that, the source of all evil still has to be identified.

I don’t believe that we can properly do such a thing without building our case on a biblical foundation. Morality is based on the balance between good and evil which is best brought forward by looking at what the Tenach says.

Good and evil cannot exist independently of one another since one defines the other. Going back to the very first book of the Tenach, Genesis, we find out that one of God’s most special angels, Satan, rebelled against God and fell from grace. From that point on, he has been working very hard at hating what God loves and loving what God hates. That puts the Jewish people and Israel directly in his crosshairs.

He knows that through the Jewish people, more specifically through the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10,) will come the Redeemer of mankind, the Messiah of Israel. His goal is to stop that from happening, because at some point in the future, Messiah will put an end to Satan’s career and he doesn’t care for his retirement plan.

I am often asked if the birth of the modern state of Israel is a direct result of World War Two and the Holocaust. I believe that the answer is NO! Rather, the Holocaust was an attempt by Satan to destroy the Jews right before they would start fulfilling one of God’s most amazing prophecy about their return to their biblical land (Ezekiel 36-38.)

There is no doubt in my mind that Satan was aware of the return of the Jews to Israel in the End-Times. He had to stop it, or at least try, thus the Holocaust. He used Pharaoh to try to stop Moses from being born, he used Herod to try to stop Yeshua from being born and he used Nazi Germany and Hitler to try to stop the Jews from moving back to Israel and fulfill God’s covenantal promises. Satan exploited the fact that the Jewish people weren’t under God’s protection and were more at the mercy of the nations to attempt their total eradication. He almost succeeded but God is greater. Not only God is greater but He is interested in every single soul that exists. God wants to draw them to Him, one soul at a time.

So again, it is not that we speak too much of the Holocaust, but maybe that we speak of it in the wrong context.

[1] https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/eichmanns-victims-the-unheard-testimony/

[2] Elie Wiesel: Night (New York: Hilland Wang, 1960) 75-76

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