My friend Valerie posted some beautiful artwork yesterday and explained that today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. When I was a grad student at Wichita State University, I had a professor, Dr. Greenberg, who always got upset (actually he went on a tirade) when anyone said the Holocaust didn't exist. I'm not a Jew, and I wasn't around during that time, but I KNOW the Holocaust DID exist, and so should everyone. You don't just erase SIX MILLION people from the planet and pretend it never happened.
This image from JPost commemorates some of the Hungarian Jews held at Auschwitz. Many ceremonies and memorials coinciding with the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz are scheduled for today.
With anti-Semitism on the rise in Europe and nearly half the United States agreeing with President Trump to tighten our borders against refugees, I keep comparing this time in our lives to WWII. Many Palestinian leaders have warned that if Trump moves forward with his campaign promise to move the Israeli embassy, it could lead to instability and possibly violence in that region.
I may be a pessimist, and I hope I will be proven wrong, but I keep seeing so many similarities between these times and what was going on in Auschwitz and Europe during the second World War, it's scary. Believe me, if things turn out better than expected, I'll gladly be the first to admit I was wrong.
This and the next photo were taken from Yad Vasham, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center located in Jerusalem.
Wikipedia tells us:
The name "Yad Vashem" is taken from a verse in the Book of Isaiah: "Even unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off" (Isaiah 56:5). Naming the Holocaust memorial "yad vashem" conveys the idea of establishing a national depository for the names of Jewish victims who have no one to carry their name after death. The original verse referred to eunuchs who, although they could not have children, could still live for eternity with the Lord.One of the artists who inspired me when I was researching the Holocaust was Zinovii
“I did what I had to do; I couldn’t refrain from doing it. My heart commanded, my conscience demanded, the hatred for fascism reigned.” In these words, artist Private Zinovii Tolkatchev embodies the creative essence of one who arrived at the gates of hell in Red Army uniform.
All of these images are haunting and very impressive.
This is a photo of the actual death camp known as Birkenau, or Auschwitz II. There were actually three Auschwitz's, the first was built to hold Polish political prisoners beginning in 1940. Birkenau or Auschwitz II was built to exterminate the Jews brought to the camps from 1941 to 1944. Auschwitz III was built to produce rubber products and to house slave labor building Auschwitz III.
They are all loosely connected in location.
Birkenau held four crematoria, the mass killing solution decided on by Hitler to quickly and efficiently eliminate thousands of Jews at once.
They were brought by train cars and deposited directly into the chambers like the one shown in the photo above the maps. Most of those who died, did so in one of the four gas chambers.
Although many of those prisoners still in the camp in January, 1945 were sent on a death march (or forcible movement of prisoners), those left behind were liberated on January 27, 1945 (now you know why today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day).
Toward the end of the war, as the Allies approached from the west and the Soviet Union approached from the east, the SS told overseers of the camps to get rid of the prisoners, destroy all paperwork, and dismantle the gas chambers. They didn't want the world to know about their atrocities.
According to Wikipedia:
Although most of the prisoners were already very weak or ill after enduring the routine violence, overwork, and starvation of concentration camp or prison camp life, they were marched for kilometres in the snow to railway stations, then transported for days at a time without food, water, or shelter in freight carriages originally designed for cattle. On arrival at their destination, they were then forced to march again to new camps. Prisoners who were unable to keep up due to fatigue or illness were usually executed by gunshot.This cattle car monument stands in Yad Vashem. Designed by Moshe Safdie, it is also known as the Memorial to the Deportees.
And to show how twisted some in my country have become, before Christmas and Hanukkah in Arizona, vandals turned a family's menorah into a swastika. The community came together after the menorah was rebuilt to show support by attending a re-lighting ceremony. According to the Arizona Central web site:
"Whether it's vandalizing or using hate symbols, it's not normal," said Carlos Galindo-Elvira, Arizona regional director for the Anti-Defamation League.
According to Galindo-Elvira, Arizona has seen an increase in similar incidents in the past few weeks. The incidents range from damaging menorahs, swastikas on cakes and Jewish children being confronted by other children at school.
"We have to be strong and overcome hateful acts and hateful words together," Galindo-Elvira said. As for the increase in these types of incidents?
"We just came out of a very emotional, heated general election," Galindo-Elvira said. "Certainly there are blocks of communities that feel emboldened by the inviting rhetoric of hate and that let the genie out of the bottle."This rally form is from 2013.
And thank you beyond belief for following me through to the end of this very long post.