This is a post I wrote last year and thought it was appropriate to re-post it today in honour of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“I am the victor!” says one survivor. Another says she puts on too much perfume every day because she continues to smell the stench of the Nazi death camps on herself.
On this, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, I posted a video on 680CJOB’s Facebook page with the emotional moments when Auschwitz survivors return to the death camp where 1.1 million people, the vast majority of them Jews, were murdered.
And the BBC has asked if we should stop talking about Holocaust? Usually I ask questions when I put up a post. But today, I refuse to ask the BBC’s question. Rather, I have my own question: Has never again become again?
Anti-Semitism has returned to Europe within living memory of the Holocaust. Amid a sense of siege and emergency, there is talk of a mass exodus of Jewish people – Europe’s oldest ethnic minority. In France, worshippers at a synagogue were surrounded by a mob protesting Israeli policy. In Brussels, four people were murdered in the Jewish museum, and a synagogue was firebombed. In London, a major supermarket said that it felt forced to remove kosher food from its shelves for fear that it would incite a riot. A London theatre refused to stage a Jewish film festival because the event had received a small grant from the Israeli embassy.
These are but a few examples. But after what happened during the Holocaust, I shouldn’t have any examples.
My mother was born in Austria shortly after World War II. Her parents both survived the Holocaust – physically. Mentally and emotionally they were both casualties. I am first-generation Canadian on my mother’s side. And, fortunately, I’ve enjoyed all of the unique freedoms that come as a citizen of Canada. Unfortunately, I’ve also been haunted by the Holocaust.
It is through its scars that I look at the world.
Some years back, I found myself at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, giving a tour to a group of tourists. I was not a guide however. And it was only my first time at the museum. But, as a Jewish girl, I could speak to those tourists like no other Jew there, because I could speak German.
Yes. I gave a group of non-Jewish Germans a tour through the Holocaust, in a way they had never seen, in a way many would not imagine.
And there may not be a museum for them, but there is a torturous history for others too … Let us not forget the Rwandan genocide … Or what’s happening in Nigeria where Boko Haram has killed thousands and continues its murderous rampage … Then there’s Egypt’s 7 million Coptic Christians and millions of other Coptic Christians whose lives are under constant threat … And the Sámi (or Laplanders) – the indigenous peoples of Sweden and the largest indigenous ethnic group in Europe … The Basques in Spain … I could go on, but wish I couldn’t.
So I ask you: Has never again become again and again … ?
Again, looking at what’s happening in Europe right now … Is anyone really taking action against it?
Now, imagine if no one would have taken action against Adolf Hitler when he began his attempt to rid the world of the Jews.
Oh, wait … No one did.