This is a re-post from a previously published piece… the descriptions for these pictures can be found at the original article.
I have always had an intense connection with the study of the Holocaust. The study of the Holocaust for me began in middle school, and is a major reason why I chose to pursue a history degree. Further study in the area stalled when I realized just how proficient I would have to become in at least one more language, if not several more. Growing up, my family would encourage me to write, and more specifically, to write about the Holocaust. Yet, I could never find the words.
Even now, this blog post is the most difficult one I have tried to write. As a historian, I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment attributed to Edmund Burke, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” As a writer, I feel as though I won’t ever be able to do justice to the survivors’ stories, no matter how many stories I read and hear, and no matter how intensely I study the Holocaust.
Since the Holocaust in which over 6 million Jews, and another 5 million non-Jews were murdered, there have unfortunately been further genocidal atrocities committed. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum cites 10 “cases,” of genocide since WWII. The complete list can be found by clicking this link. There is even an entire group devoted to assessing the risks of potential mass atrocities occurring. You can find out more about the Early Warning Project here.
Many survivors have penned their poignant words to paper, some to castigate those responsible for allowing the crimes to begin and/or continue, others to offer support for their families, and still others to write about their healing and forgiveness toward those responsible. Some of my favorite authors have included Elie Wiesel (Holocaust survivor) and Immaculée Ilibagiza (Rwandan survivor).
For some reason, we as a global entity, aren’t heeding Edmund Burke’s assertion. Collectively, we have continuously allowed genocide to occur in our world, even after the Holocaust, a first-ever mass atrocity of its kind. While survivors observe the world around them, they live with their wounds from these horrific acts.
Some survivors live with physical reminders of their encounters with evil.
Today, on Yom Ha’Shoah, I will be reflecting on the slaughter of the 11 million people, killed at the hands of one group. I will be reflecting on those that attempted to stop the slaughter, or tried to save the victims.
I will also be reflecting on the masses of people that remained silent, and still remain silent, in the face of evil.
I will be reflecting on the way I can ensure the memory of these martyrs carries on during my lifetime.
And, finally, I will be praying a Divine Mercy chaplet to ask for God’s continued mercy on the whole world.
I ask that you, dear reader, will do something today to reflect on those that did not survive, and those that were left alive to tell their stories.