Remembering the Jewish Martyrs
A young child searches the face of his
German captor. 'Why?" his withered face pleads. The German sees only a
Jew, an equivalent to himself in every way possible, yet not worthy to
live. Many people in today's world think back to the Holocaust and are
disgusted by its severity and sordid nature, but is it any different from
what is happening in today's society? Discrimination, intolerance of a
religion, and injustice run rampant throughout every country of the world.
Every time someone is looked down upon because of difference, we are one
step closer to a repeat of the Holocaust. The Holocaust did not have to
happen, but the German's fear of the Jews was too powerful. The Jews were
different, and people were afraid of change.
The remembrance of the Holocaust is vital to our generation and every generation to come. If nothing else, we owe it to the Jewish survivors whose lives were ripped from their hands. If we forget their losses and tribulations, we are in danger of ignorance. For the American people to be ignorant of these events is what scares the Jewish people and any ethnic group the most.
By 1945, two out of every three European Jews had been killed by the Nazis. 1.5 million children were murdered. Before the Second World War, the Jewish population of Poland was 3.5 million. Today there are between 3,000 and 4,000 left. These are just a few of the astonishing and heartbreaking statistics resulting from the mass extermination of the Jewish nation. If investigated thoroughly, I am positive the number of children killed during the Holocaust would shock anyone.
Survivor Isak Borenstein, when recalling his life in concentration camps, said, "Now you have professors who deny the Holocaust. I am asking you how can they deny what everybody knows i5 true?" Isak was taken to Auschwitz, but there was no room for him and the other Jews traveling with him. They then took him to Mauthausen where he was put in a hospital to recover from his typhoid. While in the hospital, a Pole recognized him as a Jew and wanted to help him. He knew he would not survive if he stayed in the hospital, so he sent him on a transport to a sub-camp of Mauthausen called Schlier-Redl-Zipf. There he was put to work building a factory inside of a mountain. German officers beat Isak every day until his skin turned the color of wood. Throughout his life, Isak saw friends and family die at the hands of the Germans, yet he could do nothing to save them. Should this man's story be forgotten?
Eva Gaiter, born in Poland in 1924, says,
"There are times when I ask myself, "Where was God when my parents were
taken away from me? When my youngest brother shouted, which I still hear
him screaming, I want to live too!" When they took us away, he shouted, "I
want to live, I want to live!" This picture will never in my life
disappear from my eyes. A lot of times when I lie down, I still hear that
voice. He was 3 years old. Even though they were that small, the little
children knew what was happening to them. And I ask myself a lot of times,
As privileged as we are in America, we often do not think about those less fortunate than ourselves. "I am so busy, I never have enough time for myself, let alone others I do not even know," We do not have to send monthly checks to them or set up shrines in our home to them. We just need to remember their sacrifice. Most of us cannot fathom the terror of having our homes torn apart or our possessions sold or our families murdered. Some people cling so tightly to these things that to have them ripped away might be worse than death for them. The Jews knew this pain and suffering, yet they persevered. The stories told today by the survivors of the Holocaust show the strength they displayed in the face of evil.
We as a generation of students who fight bigotry in many areas of life do not have to sink to that level. We can be heard, even if it is only by the people in our school. We can stand up for our fellow classmates who get insults thrown at them every day and not be the one they cringe at in the hallway. We can show reverence when the Holocaust is discussed and not take it lightly.
Just because this event did not happen in our generation does not mean it is something that should not be passed into it. This may seem like a small insignificant way to change our world, but change starts with something small. Change can happen if people step up and make their silenced voices become heard in a deafening world.
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Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation, Inc.