From the evening of April 7, 2013, to the evening of April 8, Jews worldwide will commemorate Yom HaShoah (the Day of the Catastrophe) also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day. Yom HaShoah typically falls on the 27th of Nissan (April 8, 2013) and coincides with the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It was inaugurated in 1953 by first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gourion as a memorial to the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Yet to most people worldwide, Yom HaShoah is either a complete mystery, an irrelevant topic or a thorn in the flesh of their anti-Semitic bodies. Yom HaShoah is a day that most of the world would rather not have to remember, but the unfortunate and heavy truth is that the Shoah left a permanent scar on the Jewish people at best and an open wound at worst.
It cannot be ignored!
There are several reasons why not just the worldwide Jewish community should remember the Shoah, but the global community as well:
1) It really happened
This might be seen by some as one of the most obvious truism, but the Holocaust really happened! Unfortunately, alongside of those who clearly know that the Holocaust is one of the worst historical events on record, there are plenty of others who are working hard at telling us that it never did. The reality of the Holocaust being indelibly stamped in the memory of many people doesn’t seem to stop “Holocaust deniers” from propagating their lies. The physical evidence left behind, as well as the copious records kept by the Nazis, don’t persuade or even intimidate those on a mission to eradicate the Shoah from the chronicles of human history.
Yom HaShoah serves to perpetuate the memory of an event that really happened. It was real enough for my grandfather, Maurice Weinzveig, who perished in Auschwitz and the family he left behind, and it was real enough for the rest of the 6 million. Any attempt at rewriting history devoid of this human tragedy should be a crime, as it is in some European countries such as Germany.
2) It happened recently
Another factor to consider is the fact that it happened recently. World War II ended in 1945, which was only 68 years ago. With Germany’s unconditional surrender came the liberation of Europe and of all the concentration and death camps of Western and Eastern Europe. While most of the survivors of the Shoah have now passed away, some still remain spread out all around the world. In other words, it is still possible for one to sit down with a Holocaust survivor and get a firsthand story of the nightmare they went through and survived. But this window of opportunity is quickly coming to an end.
The world owes it to the remaining survivors of the Shoah to perpetuate the memory of the event and to promote the important message of “Never Again” through education and testimonies. One of the few organizations serving that purpose in a most commendable way is Shadows of Shoah, a website built on the foundation of many sobering testimonies from a handful of worldwide Holocaust survivors. As the founder of Shadows of Shoah, Perry Trotter recognizes, it is important to treat the Holocaust in a way that exposes the human nature of the disaster. These are real people with real stories, not just another set of statistics. As the world becomes accustomed to hearing the tragedy of the 6 million, it also builds a certain immunity to the carnage attached to that number. While it is impossible to remember al the victims by name, Shadows of Shoah does a superb job of connecting the site’s visitor to the heart and soul of each survivor as they briefly share their story.
My mother saw her dad taken by the Gestapo while she escaped the Holocaust and was sent to the southwest of France to hide on a farm. She is still alive today, and it is very offensive and brutally insensitive to try to tell her that the Holocaust was a hoax. Sixty-eight years ago was not very long. As a matter of fact, almost prophetically, Gen. Eisenhower, after visiting the Buchenwald sub-camp at Orhdruf and ordering for photographs to document his discovery, was quoted saying:
“I visited every nook and cranny … to be in a position from then on to testify about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief … that the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda.”
Little did he know that just a few decades down the road, his greatest fear would become a tragic reality.
Yet my biggest concern is that Holocaust deniers, Holocaust revisionists and even those who just ignore these events might be the catalysts for history to repeat itself. The signs are all here!
3) It could happen again
It is ironic that the very people in the Middle East – like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah; or even Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi – who to different degrees all deny the Holocaust, also threaten Israel with their own version of a new Holocaust. Sometimes they even accuse Israel of committing “another Holocaust” against poor, defenseless Palestinian victims. What “other” Holocaust are they talking about if the first one was indeed a myth, or even worse, a result of some “Jewish propaganda” to make the whole world feel sorry and vote for the partition of Palestine in 1947?
The level of anti-Semitism that is currently plaguing the Jews worldwide is second only to the pre-World War II era. Many scholars and experts on anti-Semitism believe that we are experiencing a time of history very similar to the 1930s in Europe as it pertains to the rise of this new hatred of the Jewish people. My own research leads me to agree with them.
This renewed hatred for my people doesn’t just come from the Middle East and/or radical Muslims; it is also fueled by the liberal left’s agenda of tolerance and multiculturalism. We, unfortunately, also see some anti-Semitism within the Evangelical church, not to mention the Roman Catholic Church that has a long and deeply rooted history of Jew hatred.
A few of us disciples of Yeshua of Nazareth are ready to defend Israel and the Jewish people at any cost, as we serve our Messiah who cares so much about the chosen people (Zechariah 2:8). God loves all people, including the Muslims. But biblically speaking, God is a Zionist.
While many around the world increasingly speak of the Holocaust with words such as “Never Before,” Followers of Yeshua have a biblical obligation to join in with the Jewish people in declaring, “Never Again!”