Monday April 17th is Yom HaShoah, known in English as the Holocaust Remembrance Day. The day is dedicated to thoughtful contemplation and reflection in memory of the millions of lives lost under Nazi persecution. Along with the six million Jews who perished (63% of the Jewish population of Europe), five million Slavs, Jehovah’s Witness, Roma, LGBT persons, and persons with disabilities were also slaughtered by the Nazis.
We are only 80 years away from the organized and systemic effort to obliterate an entire population of people from the face of the earth, the most devastating demonstration of antisemitism is recent years. Holocaust Remembrance Day prompts us to recall the unimaginable horrors that Jews and other persecuted groups faced. These included forced labor, slow starvation, rape, humiliation, and torture that often resulted in death, along with outright murder by mass shootings and later, the gas chambers.
The Holocaust Day of Remembrance also prompts us to reflect on the acts of resistance that took place throughout the war. April 19th is the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the most well-known of the many revolts against Nazi aggression. Warsaw Ghetto Jews rose in armed resistance to Nazi efforts to deport them to death camps, holding off the Germans for 27 days. The SS Commander finally ordered the burning of the ghetto, smoking out their prey block by block, and ultimately killing 13,000 Jewish men, women, and children. Surviving ghetto residents were deported to concentration camps and killing centers. The Warsaw Ghetto Jews knew what the outcome would be – the point was resistance. These unimaginable acts of defiance and bravery are timeless reminders of the importance of resistance, perseverance, and defiance in the face of hate, identity-based violence, and antisemitismeven when circumstances make it nearly impossible to do so. Confronting the horrors of the Holocaust is illustrative of where unchecked hatred can lead, one of too many historic reminders of man’s inhumanity against man. The lessons of the Holocaust cannot be forgotten as we stand together against anti-Semitism and all other forms of bigotry, intolerance, discrimination, and hate.
To learn more, please visit: https://nationaltoday.com/yom-hashoah/