Today is Holocaust memorial day, the anniversary of liberation from Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Throughout my childhood, the phrases repeated on Holocaust memorial (or its equivalent, Yom HaShoah) were one person can make a difference, and we will never forget.
Too often the Holocaust is presented as a Jewish issue. It is imperative that we not forget that it is not only Jews who were targeted systematically for extermination, but also Gypsies, trade unionists, Communists, political opponents, disabled people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, LGBT people, and Black Germans; and besides these, there were many East European civilians and Russian prisoners of war casualties. It is necessary to remember that the Holocaust was a an atrocity committed against humanity, and not only against Jews.
The truth is that we have a global responsibility for other human beings. The Holocaust was not an event only in Jewish history, or European history, but an event in global history. We cannot abdicate responsibility for human rights abuses world-wide, simply because as individuals we are not directly responsible for them. It’s not enough to vote against racist parties in elections, it’s not enough to be a non-racist individual.
While we think about the events of sixty years ago, we must not allow ourselves to believe that such crimes against humanity are a thing of the past. By all means, talk about the past, talk about the present and the future, but talk msut translate into action. So light a candle, remember the dead and the survivors, but also do something for all the people to whom genocide is not a shadow of the past but a terrifying reality — start a petition, write to elected officials, distribute leaflets, do whatever you do, but do something. And never forget that genocide and ethnic cleansing and will happen again, is happening in many parts of the world, and will continue to happen if people remain silent.