(untitled)
By Jessica Hyman
Centerport, NY


 

"I was fortunate to survive the war and the Holocaust, but for fifty years, I remained silent. The memories of my ravaged youth were too painful to touch, but my past haunted me all these years. Today, motivated by the desire to repel the insolence of those who falsify history and deny the Holocaust, I am ready to tell my story (Shneidman 27)."

Those were my grandfather's words in the preface to his novel Jerusalem of Lithuania. My grandfather, Norman N. Shneidman, has always been a man of little words. Until I read his book, I had no idea the horror that permeated his childhood and his life because of the Holocaust. I had no idea how scorched his memories were, how painful his past was. Writing his novel was his release... a chance for him to finally enlighten the world with his agonizing experiences, with the hope that he may educate at least one person... teach the consequences of hatred and evil to somebody... and make the world a little bit more aware.

His goal was fulfilled. I read his book.

Reading my grandfather's bookk proved tome why it is vitally important to uproot the past and explore it, despite how brutal reality it may be. Education is the key to understanding. Through literature, art, and education of the Holocaust, the world holds the key to becoming aware and informed, and herein lies the hope for the future.

Unfortunately, even though the people of the 21St century have more educational opportunities than any before them, the lessons of hatred and prejudice are slowly fading away with the decades. The September 11 attacks are a grim reminder of what hate can do to a country and its innocent civilians, and perhaps for the next ten, maybe twenty years, people will vividly remember the pain. But what about in fifty years when the few survivors are gone? Will it take yet another attack on humanity for people to comprehend the destruction of intolerance?

The students of America are some of the most fortunate in the world. They have every possible resource at their fingertips. They have the ability to read literature, watch movies, search websites--opportunities many in this world do not possess. And yet oftentimes, it is these very opportunities that permit some of the most terrifying AntiSemitism and Holocaust denial in all of history. These #forms of attack against Jews and the Holocaust are becoming more prevalent in our daily lives. For instance, in the March 9, 2003 New York Times Magazine, the father of respected actor Mel Gibson flagrantly proclaimed that the Holocaust was "a i;abrication manufactured to hide an arrangement between Adolf Hitler and `financiers' to move Jews out of Germany to the Middle East to fight Arabs". Although the following week letters of outrage reacted to Gibson, Sr.'s bold proclamation, one can see it only took a quick flip through one of the nation's most respected magazine's to find a powerful celebrity denying the occurrence of one of the world's most horrifying genocides. Because our world relies so heavily on celebrities in their opinions and advice, the presence of such obvious anti-Semitism from such a respected name is appalling (Nixon, Christopher. "Is The Pope Catholic ...Enough?")

Another example of the existence of Holocaust denial material in everyday life is the paraphernalia of Bradley Smith, a known Holocaust revisionist. Smith, the former media director of the Institute for Historical Review, in 1996, tried to post two-inch high Holocaust denial advertisements in multiple college newspapers. Shockingly, some universities, including Ohio-Wesleyan: and Iowa State, actually printed this advertisement. In 1999, Smith's campaign continued with an attempt to circulate a 27page publication called The Revisionist to college campuses as an insert in their school paper. Universities including Hofstra and Boise State University included the insert. (www.adl.org/holocaust/bradley smith.as

These appearances of Anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial advertisements can unfortunately affect the easily influenced college student, as well as anybody else who reads them with the naive trust that they are veritable. The advertisements in universities also remain a problem because professors and administrators give all opinions equal consideration so as not to make anybody feel inferior or incorrect in their mindsets; however, extremist demonstrations on campus should not be tolerated. It is an open door for bigotry, prejudice, and hatred.

It is apparent that human awareness about the Holocaust is still lacking, and although it is well known that no amount of knowledge and understanding can eliminate all revisionists and anti-Semites, we, as informed members of society, must do everything in our power to ensure that their ideas do not infiltrate the good of humanity. We must create a better, more accepting tomorrow... a brighter future for our children to live.

One may wonder how to go about educating themselves if they can see examples of Holocaust denial right in their Sunday newspaper. Despite this, the simplicity of learning about the events of the Holocausts is astounding. Read the numerous accounts of the pain and suffering retold by the survivors. See the museums, the exhibits, the artwork that is infused with the experiences of the Holocaust. As a student, invite speakers such as Ruth Minsky Sender to speak at your school. It is easy to forget that these resources are available, but forgetting the event that made them necessary is a path the world cannot be lead down. One must appreciate what little is left to show for the genocide that annihilated millions... the literature, the art, even the poetry of the children from the concentration camps: it may be the only key remaining to prevent the repetition of one of the most haunting and devastating times in history.

In the end, although I will never fully understand what my grandfather or the rest of the Holocaust victims went through those sixty years ago, his words-his storychanged my view of life and the world around me. And if one day the words of the survivors begin to fade, I will always have his book, my grandfather's bequest to the world, that I can look back on. And 1 will do my best to help his influence transcend time. I won't let my children forget. They won't let their children forget, for they will always have a piece of history with them wherever they go: a copy of the book that enlightened me. It is only so hoped that, around the world, other families will use their own resources to do the same.
 

Bibliography


"Bradley Smith and the Committee for the Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH): The New College Try." 1999. Anti-Defamation League. htty://www.adl.org/holocaust/bradley smith asp

"Schooled in Hate: Anti-Semitism on Car npus." 1997. Anti-Defamation League. htty://www.adl.orW sih/sih-introl.asp

Shneidman, N.N. Jerusalem of Lithuania: The Rise and Fall of Jewish Vilnius: A Personal Perspective. Toronto: MosaicPr.-ss, 1998.

Noxon, Christopher. "Is the Pope Catholic... Enough?" New York Times Magazine. 9 Mar. 2003: 50
 

 

 


The opinions, comments, and sentiments expressed by the participants are not necessarily those of Holland & Knight LLP or the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation, Inc.

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