“The Holocaust, which established the standard for absolute evil, is the universal heritage of all civilized people”
Our Living Legacy, Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center
Today as the world honors International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it also recognizes the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the lives rescued, and the atrocities revealed. But sadly in 2020, the lessons for humanity learned in 1945 seem to be slipping away as anti-Semitic hate crimes and hate crimes overall have increased dramatically in the last few years. From an article in USA Today,
“In its latest audit, the Anti-Defamation League reported 1,879 acts against Jews in the U.S. in 2018, the third highest number in 40 years. The organization also cited New York Police Department figures that said there had been more anti-Jewish incidents in the city in 2019 than all other crimes added together.”
Karen Baynes-Dunning, Interim President of the Southern Poverty Law Center, released this statement.
“Today marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. More than 1 million Jews, Roma, Polish, Russian, and LGBTQ people were murdered in this Nazi death camp.
Today, the rise in antisemitism and violence against the Jewish people in the United States, and around the world, should ring alarm bells for all of us. Extremists have redoubled their efforts to mainstream Holocaust denial.
We must learn from history, honor the memories of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, and come together to fight anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia and xenophobia.”
Therein lies the problem. According to the same USA Today article, millennials are not learning from the past and the statistics are horrifying.
“Only 11 states require Holocaust history to be taught at schools. That may be part of the reason why a 2018 survey showed 66% of millennials could not identify the notorious Auschwitz – where 1.1 million people died, the vast majority of them Jewish – and 22% could not confirm having heard of the Holocaust. Significant gaps in Holocaust knowledge have been revealed by surveys in other countries as well.”
Is it any wonder High School and College boys think it’s “cool” to throw the Nazi salute and when they’re caught don’t get what the big deal is? They aren’t being taught the history. Here’s a piece of our Community’s history about the Holocaust from History.com.
“The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates 100,000 gay men were arrested and between 5,000 and 15,000 were placed in concentration camps. Just as Jews were forced to identify themselves with yellow stars, gay men in concentration camps had to wear a large pink triangle… At the camps, gay men were treated especially harshly, by guards and fellow prisoners alike. “There was no solidarity for the homosexual prisoners; they belonged to the lowest caste,” Pierre Seel, a gay Holocaust survivor, wrote in his memoir I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual: A Memoir of Nazi Terror… An estimated 65 percent of gay men in concentration camps died between 1933 and 1945.”
In it’s 2005 Declaration of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the United Nations said in part,
“Reaffirming that the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice,”
Professor Yehuda Bauer, Academic Advisor to Yad Vashem delivered the “Remembrance and Beyond” keynote address at the United Nations on the first Holocaust Remembrance Day January 27, 2006. He concluded his address this way,
“We are all one human race, interconnected and interdependent. Politics that are not based on moral considerations are, at the end of the day, not practical politics at all. It is out of these considerations that I beg you to permit me to repeat here what I said, exactly eight years ago, in a speech to the German Bundestag: I come from a people that gave the ten commandments to the world. Let us agree that we need three more, and they are these: thou shalt not be a perpetrator; thou shalt not be a victim; and thou shalt never, but never, be a bystander.”
Read Professor Bauer’s full speech HERE
Learn More about
Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. at the Museum of Jewish Heritage through August 30, 2020
Information and Tickets HERE