Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January: Never Forget

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This was the Holocaust memorial service at the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) yesterday, in honour of Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is today in Sweden. The members of Parliament are generally not in Stockholm on Mondays or Fridays so this is probably why they honoured it yesterday (Thursday).

My mother was German (born 1930) and she always told me that we must never forget, because when we forget, we will go down that path again. As the pendulum is swinging back to the far right all over Europe, I hope enough people remember that this or anything like it will never happen again.

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I hate it when people use the term Nazi (or apartheid for that matter) casually. Someone who is regimented or strict is called a Nazi, someone who is fond of correct grammar is called a Grammar Nazi. I guess most of the population of the world today was not alive during the second world war. And it is good that they don’t have to go through it. But they should know about it. That between 15 and 20 million people were systematically slaughtered. In about July 1942, 25 000 people a day were murdered. In just 2 weeks, 1.4 million people were murdered.

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The death that affected me the most last year was that of Elie Wiesel.  His book Night has stayed with me through the years and I have reread it several times.

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Excerpt from Night:

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.

Here he is in Buchenwald, second row from the bottom, seventh from left, against the post. I am half German and I honestly feel that we must never forget, because as soon as we do, something like this could happen again.

These are slave laborers in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Jena; many had died from malnutrition when U.S. troops of the 80th Division entered the camp. Germany, April 16, 1945. Pvt. H. Miller. (Army) NARA FILE #: 208-AA-206K-31 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1105

I am not sure if anyone saw that people are now posing for selfies all over the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

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Israeli artist Shahak Shapira has created an art project, Yolocaust, to shame those who have taken disrespectful selfies at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. The Memorial offers tribute to the thousands of people who died during WWII, particularly in concentration camps around Europe. Read more here.

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To be honest, I think that at long as people are still visiting the Memorial and are not drawing graffiti all over it and having loud raucous parties there, there is probably no reason to go this far to shame them. But there should be respect for the Holocaust Memorial, just as there is respect for the 9/11 memorial in New York City, where people do not take selfies like this. The fact that the Holocaust is not fresh in younger people’s minds like 9/11 is, should not make any difference to the respect they show for all the innocent people who died in both atrocities.



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3 replies

  1. Thanks for recognizing this horrific event in history.

    Debated whether to even comment, as this has some very personal aspects to it. Both to my wife and I.

    Both sides of our families lost relatives to the Holocaust. And some ‘survived’, although marked for rest of their lives.

    My wife never met any of her grandfathers, grandmothers, and aunts as a result of this horror. Her parents who had left Poland in time, we haunted with ‘survivor’s guilt’ for the rest of their lives and it had impact on them and how they were able to cope with life and in turn be parents.

    While my father didn’t end up in concentration camps (although he could have…), he was captured in the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ ( ) while a very young man serving in the US Army. If not, for some quick thinking by one of his colleagues, he would have been separated from his unit, since his ‘dog tag’ had the letter ‘J’ on it. His buddy told him to quickly switch tags with one of their fallen comrades that had the letter ‘C’ on it. That quick thinking saved his life.

    But while he ended up the rest of the war in a German POW camp, it was no picnic according to what he shared with me.

    If someone tried to escape and was caught, the camp commander would order everyone outside and make them watch the solder being shot.

    The last 6 months of the war, the Germans gave them bread and water to eat once a day.

    When he finally made it home, he was down to 98 pounds….he was 5 feet 10 inches tall……
    His mother barely recognized him…..

    At least he made it home, met my mother, and in turn I am here to post this….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark thank you so much for sharing. I feel honoured that you told me. Things like this must never be forgotten. Ever. Every time I read about it, the scale of the genocide and the awful atrocities astounds me. This is why the rise of the far right scares me so much.

      Like

  2. When I was some where around the age of 11 or 12, I read the Diary of Anne Frank. The impact it made on me then was huge. If I sit and think about it, it seriously upsets me to the point of tears. I just can’t imagine what those poor people endured.

    Liked by 1 person

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