Today is Israel’s Yom HaShoah, known as Holocaust Remembrance Day in English. It’s been 73 years since World War II ended and the Allies liberated the death camps, and the passage of time has dulled the memories of the atrocities inflicted by the Nazis and enabled by the world, while also slowly stealing away the heroes and survivors and their firsthand stories.
A survey released today shows stronger efforts must be taken to impart awareness and knowledge of the past.
RedState front-page contributor Kimberly Ross covered the poll and lamented its dismal findings, including that a significant number of American adults lack critical knowledge regarding the horrors inflicted upon the European Jewish community during the Holocaust — the state-sponsored persecution and genocide in which Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany and its allies systematically murdered six million Jewish people and 17 million people total — at concentration camps like Auschwitz, the most infamous of the Nazi concentration camps, where approximately 1.1 million people were murdered.
Perhaps most concerning, the survey results revealed the youngest adult generation – millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 – were the least knowledgeable. To prevent a horror like the Holocaust from happening again, it is necessary to understand how bitter resentment and desperation made possible the political decisions, willful blindness, and actions that led to it.
According to the survey, 58% of Americans believe “something like the Holocaust could happen again.”
The Wall Street Journal reported on April 3rd Jewish youth in Germany are being harassed, leading at least one Jewish organization to worry “a new generation of anti-Semites is coming of age”:
- Teenagers, including descendants of Holocaust survivors, have been taunted by their classmates for being Jewish and had “gas the Jews!” chanted at them.
- According to the head of Germany’s teachers association, the word Jew has become a generic insult in schools.
- Germany police recorded 1,453 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, an increase from previous years, and actual circumstances may be even worse: Many Jewish organizations say fewer than a third of such incidents get reported.
And in France, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor was murdered in Paris last month after being stabbed more than ten times. Mireille Knoll had reportedly managed to escape the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup of 1942, in which nearly 14,000 Parisian Jews were arrested and shipped to Auschwitz, making it all the more horrific she was unable to escape anti-Semitism in 2018.
Mireille Knoll, 85 ans, rescapée de la rafle du Vel d’Hiv, est morte vendredi à Paris, poignardée à onze reprises, avant que son appartement ne soit incendié.
Toute la lumière doit être faite sur ce crime odieux, dont le parquet retient le caractère antisémite.
— Benjamin Griveaux (@BGriveaux) March 26, 2018
Benjamin Griveaux, a French politician and En Marche! spokesperson, tweeted: “Mireille Knoll, 85, who survived the roundup of the HIV Vel, died on Friday in Paris, stabbed eleven times before her apartment was burned. All light must be made on this heinous crime, the prosecution of which retains the anti-Semitic character.”
Last year, a 66-year-old Jewish woman was beaten in her apartment and then thrown out a window. According to the Washington Post, Sarah Halimi’s suspected murderer “had confronted her with verbal slurs on a regular basis.”
Meanwhile, white supremacists and neo-Nazis hold “Unite the Right” rallies in America with racist and anti-Semitic chants and banners. Furthermore, the Wall Street Journal reported in February “anti-Semitic incidents in New York City increased 92% in 2017″ and “that more than half of all anti-Semitic assaults in the country occurred in New York state.”
And anti-Semitism is increasing just as our world loses the last heroes and survivors of the Holocaust. The New York Times reported today that worldwide, “the estimated number of living Holocaust survivors has fallen to 400,000″ survivors who are now in their 80s and 90s.
Last month, the world lost a real-life hero. Johan van Hulst died on March 22 at the age of 107. He saved as many as 600 children by smuggling them to the Resistance to be hidden. In 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told him, “We say those who save one life saves a universe. You saved hundreds of universes.”
At great risk to his own life, van Hulst did the right thing. He is an example to us all.
But he is not the only example we can learn from. Today people have been sharing the stories of their family members who survived or died in the Holocaust, as a way to ensure that the horrors are not forgotten and to prevent similar events from occurring in the future.
Law professor Orin Kerr reshared the story of his father’s survival from a concentration camp:
1/ Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known as Yom HaShoah. In honor of this day, I'd like to tell you about the photograph below. It was taken in 1938, in a small town in Suwalki, Poland. Everyone in the photo is a Jew. See the boy front row center? That's my dad. pic.twitter.com/VQ1g8pNqgF
— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) April 12, 2018
4/ Almost everyone in the picture was murdered in the Holocaust. Only two of the sixteen people in the picture survived the war. The first was the man who left for America in 1938. The second was my dad, who survived the concentration camps.
— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) April 12, 2018
Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who starred as Wonder Woman in the hit 2017 film, also shared a tribute, to her grandfather Abraham Weiss who survived the Holocaust and died in 2013 at the age of 85. She noted Weiss “lost his ENTIRE family in Auschwitz.”
It is sometimes hard to grasp the enormity of such evil.
When we say “never again,” we must mean it.
Last year, RedState front-page contributor Sarah Rumpf wrote about her experiences visiting the Dachau concentration camp, the first Nazi Germany concentration camp and the site of an estimated 32,000 deaths:
Evil requires co-conspirators and is nourished by all who condone its presence in silence. This is true for the neighbors ignoring the thousands of bodies burned in Dachau’s crematoria, for those at the U.S. Gymnastics Board and Michigan State University who ignored complaints about Larry Nassar’s abuse of hundreds of young gymnasts for decades, for the members of Congress who authorized hush money settlements to pay off victims of sexual harassment, and for the many in Hollywood who allowed sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein to indulge their sick proclivities as long as everyone was still making millions at the box office.
None of these evils happen — or at minimum, do not happen for very long — without the support of those who refuse to act to stop them.
And Kimberly Ross wrote in her Holocaust coverage today:
Every American should have a detailed awareness of the Holocaust. This is not something only for Americans with a real thirst for history. Humanity as a whole must never, ever forget the pure evil that existed, persisted, and took millions of innocent lives.
Remembering these horrors, and speaking against such evil in the future, is our moral obligation. As Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said, “to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmquinlan.