Remember …

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  It is a day we should all remember … a day we should hope never EVER happens again.  The lessons of this history have never been more relevant than they are today as we see many nations leaning away from democratic principles and toward authoritarianism, and as we see a rise in hate crimes, rise in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.  Those lessons of history should be the focus of this solemn International Holocaust Remembrance Day—designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, on January 27th, marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, in 1945.

The victims of the Holocaust were an estimated 6 million Jewish people, 200,000 Romani people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.  We must … MUST take time to remember these victims and take note of how it all came about, else we risk repeating the mistakes, the horrors, of the past.

History and the lessons we must learn from it tend to seem less relevant to us as the years pass.  Today, 78 years after the end of WWII and 78 years after the liberation, there are few people still living who have direct, personal memories of the Holocaust.  But, we have the recorded history in stories and pictures to remind us.  These were not just “six million Jews” … these were people … REAL PEOPLE.  They were grandchildren, spouses, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters … they were each and every one loved by other people!  We cannot forget them or simply brush them off as another historical fact!  Take the story of 15-year-old Bertha Adler …

1940-44: Bertha was 11 when the Germans occupied Liege. Two years later, the Adlers, along with all the Jews, were ordered to register and Bertha and her sisters were forced out of school. Some Catholic friends helped the Adlers obtain false papers and rented them a house in a nearby village. There, Bertha’s father fell ill one Friday and went to the hospital. Bertha promised to visit him on Sunday to bring him shaving cream. That Sunday, the family was awakened at 5 a.m. by the Gestapo. They had been discovered.  Fifteen-year-old Bertha was deported to Auschwitz on May 19, 1944. She was gassed there two days later.

Or survivor Arye Ephrath …

From the moment he was born, Arye Ephrath was in danger. His mother gave birth to him with the help of a housemaid in spring 1942 while hiding from the first wave of deportations of Jews from their hometown in Slovakia. Later, a shepherd and his wife took in Arye on the condition they could disguise him as a girl so that he would blend in with their daughters.

Or the Margules children …

Pictured above are the Margules children wearing Jewish Star of David badges. Originally from Warsaw, the Margules family settled in Paris in the 1930s. Three of the children were deported and killed in 1942. Only one daughter (pictured at the bottom right) survived the war. Paris, France, 1941. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Mirka Margules

Real people … these were real people like you and me.  It is true that we cannot dwell on nor live in the past, but we can also never afford to forget the past, else we are certain to keep repeating it.  More and more of late I am disgusted by people making comparisons of such things as mask and vaccine mandates to the Holocaust … THERE IS NO COMPARISON!!!  And today there is a push by certain politicos to re-write history, to teach children only happy things that won’t give them any discomfort.  BULLSHIT!  History is often uncomfortable, but it is far less uncomfortable for young people studying it in a well-lit, comfortable classroom than it was for those who lived … or died … through it!  Whitewashing history does not make it simply go away, does not erase what happened, it only makes us more deaf to the voices from the past.

I leave you with a poem by Charlene Schiff, nee Shulamit Perlmutter, the only one in her family to have survived the Holocaust …

I Remember

By Charlene Schiff

I Remember
Blowing bubbles in the air Rainbow colors, all so fair.
Nightingales and jasmine’s scent All that love and beauty meant.

I Remember
Rainbow colors, no, no more Guards with rifles by the door.
Star of David on my coat I can’t swim, I can’t float.

I Remember
A haystack in a farmer’s field Used by seven as a shield.
Then only one of us is left, filled with sorrow and bereft.

I Remember
The bottom of a water well. Did someone see me, will they tell?
I’m slipping, clinging to the rounded wall Dear God, don’t let me fall.

I Remember
Being hungry, snow and frost Cold, alone, and very lost.
Why go on with such a life Stalked by terror’s cutting knife?

I Remember
My heart by now an empty shell From all that pain, from all that hell.
It’s such a long and awful war My wounds forever an open sore.

I Remember
Papa’s hug and Mama’s kiss.
Darling Sister I’ll always miss.

Their loving, sweet and gentle faces.
Gaze at me from empty spaces.
They’re gone forever—all is vanished.
And my soul to torment banished.

Remember, my friends.  Do not let the lives of nearly seven million people be forgotten and do not fall into complacency thinking it cannot happen here or cannot happen again.  Yes, it can.

Note to readers:  My friend, Bee, has written a short but very insightful post about Holocaust Remembrance Day that I urge you to visit.  Thank you, Bee!

32 thoughts on “Remember …

  1. I am of the same thoughts that history is history and cannot be changed but it can be a valuable lesson to all of us. The fact that some people do not heed these historic lessons, discard them, do not believe they happened and want to change them must be resisted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If we don’t learn from our history, then eventually we will make the same mistakes, proving Einstein right that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Education in this country is failing miserably, and today we have people in government who would like to make it fail even more by refusing to teach the true history of our nation that includes such things as slavery and genocide.


  2. It’s happening again.
    “The New Holocaust: Homelessness in America and What We Can Do About It”:
    Released several years ago, reviewed by Rebelle and Namaste, read in three dozen countries.
    Gag order on it here. Actually had a major newspaper tell me it didn’t matter what the story was ~ if it involved the homeless, they couldn’t use it.
    Figures in the Foreword are out of date, but otherwise everything’s current.
    If you know any advocates, Section I is of good use for quotations.
    Cheers, sista 🙋

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. It does not matter how often I hear stories of Holocaust victims, it brings tears to my eyes to recall what people did to other people. Countless destinies, so many children… about 30 years ago we visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. What an oppressive atmosphere filled with fear. Fear was screaming from each wall. When I got out of there finally, I asked myself how they could bear this. And of course, knowing about the tragic ending. Still don’t get how one person can gather so many to follow and kill people only because of their origin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here, my friend. I’m trying to picture a visit to the Anne Frank House … I’m fascinated by her story and one part of me wishes I could visit … but another part of me wonders if I could even take it, or if my heart would finally just break once and for all. The answer to your question, my friend, is “ignorance”. Those who do not understand history/politics/society, will follow the loudest voices, will accept what they are told by those voices, and never see the bullet they could have dodged coming at them. Rose-coloured glasses … burying their head in the sand … saying (and believing) “It can’t happen here.” We are on the brink of another such time, both in Europe and the U.S. … and ignorance is still all too present. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is not easy to be in that building. My daughter went there for the second time a few weeks ago. The exhibition got improved but resulting in going even deeper. I don’t know if I could go there again.
        Oh, yes, ignorance in all possible variations. To excuse them or to protect them…
        That is the terrible thing… history is about to repeat. But today the voiced against this are louder and the awareness that recongnized it is too strong. The same thing cannot happen anymore. BUT of course it can in a smaller range – which is already terrible enough.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jill, as a reminder, when you watch “Finding your Roots” on PBS and a Jewish person whose roots go back to Europe, invariably their forebears survived because they chose to leave early in the autocratic gaslighting about fearing Jews. Their relatives who remained were wiped from the face of the earth by the Nazis and their ilk. Sadly, some of that gaslighting still goes on today by white nationalists who are trying to tell us the Holocaust never happened. Of course, it did. Keith

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it did happen, and if we are not careful it could happen again. I sense a growing rise in both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the U.S. and Europe — not a good situation. I can only imagine those relatives dilemma … “get out now while we can, or stay and try to fight?” It’s … depressing, how little we learned from the lessons of history.


      • Very important reminder, Jill. I was moved to see our Second Gentleman touring Auschwitz today, a yarmulke on his head.

        And yes, as Hannah Arendt spoke of the banality of evil, it is ordinary people across the board.

        It’s the dehumanization, the “othering,” that makes ordinary people step into the darkness. That’s why language and conspiracy theories are so dangerous—and none of this should be regarded as the new normal.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m not surprised by that … Doug Emhoff is Jewish, so has probably got a better understanding of protocol than most.

          You’re right about the dehumanization of those considered to be “other”. Sadly, religious leaders and politicians weaponize that for their own purposes. And no, it should NEVER be allowed to become the norm, but my fear is that it already is to some extent. I only hope there are wiser heads than mine out there who can figure out a way to stop this madness.


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  6. Hi Jill, thanks for the shout-out but the words in my post are not my own. They are a quote from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. I felt it important to show how ordinary people are part of evil events. When I was young I was taught that enabling evil through standing by or closing eyes, ears & heart is worse than actually doing evil. I don’t know if that is true. But it is certainly true that evil can’t happen if people point it out and speak truth to power. Maybe that’s why we must stay in places like Facebook or Twitter to be the voices who call sh.. “sh..” Thanks for being that voice on your blog

    Liked by 2 people

    • They were still good words, worthy of being shared and heard by as many as possible! We blame the politicians, but who put them in office? Ordinary, everyday people. Who continues to tolerate the abuses? Ordinary people. At some point, we have to realize our own culpability and vow to do better. Otherwise, we will find ourselves the victims of something much worse, as the Germans, Poles and others did in the 1930s-1940s. Thank you, my friend, for inspiring and motivating me with your words! Love ‘n hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Just in the past few days at the site of a Residential School in western Canada a mass gravesite was discovered with the remains iof children wrapped in bedsheets piled one atop another in a hole thad had barely 10 inches of soil separating it from ground level. They don’t know yet how deep the hole goes. From records they believe the children died from unpasteurized milk taken from tuberculin cows. Was this intentional? We may bever know, but no white bodies were found buried there yet. Maybe they just did not know better… but I doubt it!

    Liked by 1 person

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