that awkward moment when you’re discussing the holocaust in class, and you, the only jewish person in the classroom, raise your hand to speak, and the teacher literally says “i don’t want to hear the jewish perspective.”
and then, in the same breath, asks, “what causes such rampant antisemitism?”
Remember that before the Holocaust, there were 18 million Jews in the world. They killed a third of us.
Remember that pre-war Eastern Europe was the center of world Jewry, and it had a thriving Jewish society with Yiddish theater, poetry, literature, art, and political activism. An entire society was destroyed.
Remember that before the war, a third of Warsaw’s population was Jewish. The vast majority of those Jewish residents were murdered.
Remember that Salonika (Thessaloniki) was a city in Greece that had a Jewish majority for hundreds of years. It used to be known as Sabatopolis – the Shabbat city – because before electric light, ships going by on Friday night would see a dark shoreline because the residents could not light lights. In the 16th century, it was known as the “mother of Israel” and was a center of Jewish life where Eastern European Jews would come to visit and study. Fewer than 1800 Jews from Salonika survived the Holocaust.
Remember that in Krakow, what used to be the Jewish quarter is now a tourist trap for the groups who come to look at what once was. The Jewish community owns several beautiful synagogues but only regularly uses one because there are so few Jews left. Without the tour groups who regularly pray with them, they would have trouble getting a quorum of ten men by the beginning of the Shabbat service. The other synagogues are museums now.
POLAND. January 27, 1995. A woman lights a candle on the rail tracks leading to the Nazi concentration and extermination camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, during the commemoration of the Soviet liberation of the complex of camps 50 years ago. An estimated 1.5 million people were killed in the Auschwitz complex during Nazi rule.
This is why we have to talk about the Holocaust so damn much. Because if we don’t, people forget. As a descendant of survivors, this absolutely terrifies me.
In the 1920s, German was one of the best places in the world to be a Jew. In the 1940s, Germany was exterminating 6 million. That’s not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. It’s shocking how quickly things can turn disastrous for us if we are unprepared and if those around us allow hatred to metastasize in the culture.
Today is Yom HaShoah, the day of mourning and remembrance of the Holocaust for Jewish people. We must retell this history to future generations, just as we retell the story of the Exodus and Esther.
You who live safe In your warm houses, You who find, returning in the evening, Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man Who works in the mud Who does not know peace Who fights for a scrap of bread Who dies because of a yes or a no. Consider if this is a woman, Without hair and without name With no more strength to remember, Her eyes empty and her womb cold Like a frog in winter.
Meditate that this came about: I commend these words to you. Carve them in your hearts At home, in the street, Going to bed, rising; Repeat them to your children,
Or may your house fall apart, May illness impede you, May your children turn their faces from you.
#Inktober day 8 prompt is star. I couldn’t decide between the 2 ideas so I did both. One is of Lala and Fantine dreaming with stars, and the other is the star badge that holocaust victims had to wear to identify themselves as jews.
The current direction my birthland China, and my current homeland, the US, has been going in has me worry that history is repeating itself.
On the night of November 9, 1938, violence against Jews broke out across Nazi Germany. It appeared to be unplanned, set off by Germans’ anger over the assassination of German embassy official Ernst vom Rath in Paris at the hands of Jewish teenager Herschel Grynszpan in revenge for the deportation of his family members who were living in Germany.
In fact, German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and other Nazis carefully organized the pogroms. In two days, over 250 synagogues were burned, over 7,000 Jewish businesses were trashed and looted, dozens of Jewish people were killed, and Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes were looted while police and fire brigades stood by. The pogroms became known as Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” for the shattered glass from the store windows that littered the streets.
The morning after the pogroms 30,000 German Jewish men were arrested for the “crime” of being Jewish and sent to concentration camps, where hundreds of them perished.
I have 8 minutes left before midnight, when Holocaust Remembrance Day will end, so let me tell you the 8 things that I remember most vividly from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
1. The entire museum is suffocating. It’s quiet and somber and can sometimes feel like you’re mourning the loss of all of humanity at once. It feels like a crypt, an urn, where 6 million people are interred.
2. The Holocaust didn’t start with Hitler screaming rabidly about filthy Jews. It started when Hitler slipped dangerous rhetoric into his speeches, blaming crime and unemployment on them.
3. There’s a three-story tall room where every inch of the walls are covered with pictures. Little kids smiling cheesily and older couples sitting next to each other, families. The only thing they have in common? Their lives were exterminated during the Holocaust.
4. A man nicknamed the Angel of Death did medical experiments on children. CHILDREN. He gouged out their leg muscles and introduced life threatening infections just to see how their bodies would react.
5. There’s a boxcar that you’re made to go into on the tour. It’s a real part of a train that transported thousands to death camps. It’s cold and it’s cramped, and the tiny windows don’t give nearly enough light to let you feel relief from the nauseating claustrophobia that creeps on you.
6. There was a children’s transport camp called Terezin, where an art teacher helped the kids express their frustration and terror through their art. They have it hanging on the walls there. It’s normal kid stuff. Butterflies and houses, people performing on stages. Underneath, the name of the child is written, and their date of death. 90℅ of them didn’t make it past 1945.
7. The worst room, by far, are the shoes. It’s a simple exhibit. Both sides of the room have containers simply filled with shoes, old and rotten. It’s not objectively sinister. Until you read the caption and realize that every last shoe came from someone gassed to death. That’s when you start noticing the petite flats and the heavy work shoes, the tiny toddler Mary Janes, faded red. You notice that each shoe had a pair of feet attached, and each pair of feet had a body attached, and each body had a life, a story, a personality, a soul, attached. And you read the poem above, which bitterly notes that the only reason that these shoes weren’t burned with their owner was because they were made of leather and not flesh and blood.
8. You end in a memorial Hall. It’s made of bright marble, and each wall bears the name of a concentration camp. There, you can light a candle. It’s small, it’s insignificant, it does nothing to stop the atrocities committed, but helps. You look above it, and you read: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”