Int’l Holocaust Remembrance Day – January 27th
“Come on, Daddy. Let’s go. Let’s go.” Young Isak Danon and his sister had walked to their family’s little store in Split, Yugoslavia. One last customer kept their father busy as the children grew anxious about being late for Shabbat services at the synagogue.
With the customer finally gone and the shop closed, the three hurried toward the city square on their way to synagogue. Outdoor cafes and shops ordinarily gave the square a quaint bustle of ordinary life. As they approached it, the father and children stopped cold, the sight before them anything but quaint. They saw no casual shoppers or diners, but instead, people running through the square past men in black shirts who were hitting them with rifles, knocking them down, and kicking them.
Isak’s father grabbed hold of his children and ducked aside. They skirted around the city to get home to their neighborhood where they went to the rabbi’s house near their own. Through a bloodied mouth and broken teeth, the rabbi told them what happened.
The synagogue service had just begun when a dozen Italian Fascist Blackshirts – allied with Hitler’s Third Reich – barged in and commanded everyone to leave. Outside, on the steps of the only exit into the square, the ruthless militia formed a gauntlet with their rifles through which they viciously beat the Jewish congregants as they fled the synagogue.
The next morning, the siblings rose early and snuck to the center of town to see what had happened.
They came upon looted stores filled with shattered glass. Remnants of a bonfire in the square revealed half-burned Jewish prayer books, a memory that never left Isak and would still overtake him with emotion as a grown man when he told his story to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2009. The synagogue was burned as well.
It was summer of 1942, and throughout Europe, Jewish people were being herded like animals, used for cruel experiments, starved and worked to death, and systematically exterminated in Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution.” It was the madman’s attempt to remove from society Jewish people, minorities, the disabled, and dissenting. Six million Jewish people died in The Holocaust, and over 11 million people in total were killed during those horrific years.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day
January 27th is set aside by the United Nations as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember the victims of the Holocaust – lest we ever forget how prejudice and persecution can lead to genocide.
It doesn’t seem possible that such a thing could happen again, does it? It’s hard to imagine a steadily increasing heat bringing hidden, simmering attitudes to a boil with such hatred toward the Jewish people again. Hatred by some, apathy by others.
Isak Danon remembers the day he looked upon the remains of destroyed prayer books from his burned-out synagogue in 1942 – and less than two weeks ago in 2017, a German court suspended the sentences of three German Palestinian men convicted of throwing a firebomb into a synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany in 2014. The court ruled the attempted torching “was not an anti-Semitic act, but rather intended to draw ‘attention to the Gaza conflict’” going on at the time between Israel and Hamas during Operation Protective Edge (The Jerusalem Post). The Clarion Project notes the ruling legitimizes arson of a synagogue as an acceptable form of protest.
“What do Jews in Germany have to do with the Middle East conflict?” asked Volker Beck, leading German Green Party MK. “Every bit as much as Christians, non-religious people or Muslims in Germany – namely, absolutely nothing. The ignorance of the judiciary toward anti-Semitism is for many Jews in Germany especially alarming,” Beck said.
Lest we forget and let simmering anti-Semitic attitudes – and complacency – grow to dangerous levels again, let us remember the Holocaust and honor its victims.
5 Ways to Remember
A 2014 survey revealed that nearly 50% of Holocaust survivors living in Israel fear the Holocaust will be forgotten when all survivors are gone. Here are five ways you can remember and honor the many millions who suffered at the hands of a viral hatred that culminated in the Holocaust.
- For Holocaust survivors – to come to know Yeshua as their Jewish Messiah, for God to comfort them in the face of their tragic memories, and for those Holocaust survivors currently suffering in poverty
- That the world never forgets that such evil is possible
- That complacency or naiveté toward anti-Semitism would cease
- That such a thing never occurs again
- For Holocaust deniers to see the truth of history
- For God’s protection on His chosen people
- Share and talk about Holocaust Remembrance Day
- Wear a Holocaust Remembrance Pin or other item highlighting the Holocaust
- Share this and other Holocaust posts on Facebook and social media
- Browse through personal stories on Holocaust memorial websites such as:
- U.S.. Holocaust Memorial Museum
- World Holocaust Remembrance Center located in Israel, Yad Vashem
- Jewish Family and Children’s Services Holocaust Center
- Order and read a book about the Holocaust, such as:
- Watch a DVD based on the Holocaust, such as:
- Rose Price: Holocaust, Journey to Forgiveness
- The Hiding Place
- Schindler’s List
- Persona Non Grata (being shown during the several events at the United Nations this remembrance week)
- Life is Beautiful
- Jakob the Liar
- When Government Becomes God