Holocaust Memorial Day

I didn’t want to let Holocaust Memorial Day pass without a comment, but what could I add to the millions of words already spoken and written, expressing the grief and tears and hopes of the ever-dwindling numbers of survivors?

Television brings Auschwitz into our homes, and as that footage is shown again and again we risk becoming inured to the sight of those living skeletons filmed as the camp was liberated. That must never happen. We need to continue to feel, just as strongly, the horrified outrage and revulsion that hit us in the solar plexus the first time we ever became aware of these atrocities. This is a wound that must never be allowed to fade into a mere scar.

I have wandered through the heart-wrenching Berlin Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and felt nauseous on the tilted floor of the Garden of Exile in the Jewish Museum there. I think of the Jews I know and have known, people of my own generation or slightly older who were saved by the Kindertransport, or whose parents and grandparents were victims of Auschwitz and other concentration camps; each story a unique mixture of horror and miracles. I think of my friends in Israel, born in the Diaspora but who have returned there, made Aliyah, drawn by their centuries old homing instinct, still facing the attacks of their enemies, day in and day out.

What can I say about the Holocaust, and what it stands for on a global scale, where genocide continues in many parts of the world even now, and man’s inhumanity to man seems to be escalating out of control? It isn’t only about anti-Semitism, though that remains a focal point.

What can I add? I can point to my other blog, with 100 translated poems of Nelly Sachs. Nothing else I can say can be more poignant than that.

8 thoughts on “Holocaust Memorial Day

  1. I visit your other site, I read, I weep, I leave no comment because …what can I say. I grew up with stories of the horrors. my sweetie’s mother lost 17 members of her family…it is part of who we are. May peace cover us. but never forgetfulness

  2. It’s not just Auschwitz, it’s Dachau, Belsen, Buchenwald and all the others that were also subsequently freed and I hope they will be remembered, too. And let’s not forget that the Russians continued to use Buchenwald in exactly the same manner as the German régime until at least 1950 – it wasn’t just Jews, either, just anyone who was outside the norm, in the way or “different”, very few real criminals. Apa weighed 47kg when he was released from Buchenwald in *1950*, among other things, and then had to flee when it seemed they were going to recall all ex-prisoners, 3 days later…and all just because he had a junior managerial post in 1945.

  3. Absolutely – there are the Sinti and Roma, homosexuals*, Communists, the mentally ill and many, many other victims, which is why I decided to keep my contribution short. And as it was the 70th anniversary of the opening of Auschwitz, that was the camp I mentioned. Maybe time for you to write about how the Russians repopulated Buchenwald, with Apa’s story?
    (*I must say, the term ‘Gay Holocaust’ is not particularly felicitous)

  4. Beautiful, heartrending and soul searing, Catherine.

    And may it stop:
    The hatred.
    The killing.
    The contempt.
    The blaming.

    May it stop.

    With heart,

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