Holocaust Remembrance Day – Never Again

April 25, 2006 at 10:12 pm | Posted in Other | 3 Comments

Today, April 25, 2006, we commemorate Yom Hashoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day.
This year as we remember the 6 million Jews systematically murdered by
the Nazis during the Holocaust, we remind ourselves of the promise of
“Never Again.” After the world had sat by and watched the Holocaust
unfold, offering assistance too late we vowed that Genocide would
never happen again. But it is happening again.

As a people who know first hand the horrors of genocide, it is our
responsibility to never forget the Holocaust and to apply its lessons
to our own time. The people of Darfur are asking us to never forget.
As Jews, human beings, and global citizens: we must take action now.
Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel has said: “Now people
know. And so they have no excuse for their passivity bordering on
indifference.”

What is the Holocaust?

The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored
persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi
regime and its collaborators. “Holocaust” is a word of Greek origin
meaning “sacrifice by fire.” The Nazis, who came to power in Germany
in January 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and
that the Jews, deemed “inferior,” were “life unworthy of life.” During
the era of the Holocaust, the Nazis also targeted other groups because
of their perceived “racial inferiority”: Roma (Gypsies), the
handicapped, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and
others). Other groups were persecuted on political and behavioral
grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and
homosexuals.

In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million.
Most European Jews lived in countries that the Third Reich would
occupy or influence during World War II. By 1945, close to two out of
every three European Jews had been killed as part of the “Final
Solution”, the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe. Although Jews
were the primary victims of Nazi racism, other victims included tens
of thousands of Roma (Gypsies). At least 200,000 mentally or
physically disabled people were murdered in the Euthanasia Program. As
Nazi tyranny spread across Europe, the Nazis persecuted and murdered
millions of other people. More than three million Soviet prisoners of
war were murdered or died of starvation, disease, neglect, or
maltreatment. The Germans targeted the non-Jewish Polish
intelligentsia for killing, and deported millions of Polish and Soviet
citizens for forced labor in Germany or in occupied Poland. From the
earliest years of the Nazi regime, homosexuals and others deemed to be
behaving in a socially unacceptable way were persecuted. Thousands of
political dissidents (including Communists, Socialists, and trade
unionists) and religious dissidents (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses) were
also targeted. Many of these individuals died as a result of
incarceration and maltreatment.

Before beginning the war in 1939, the Nazis established concentration
camps to imprison Jews, Roma, other victims of ethnic and racial
hatred, and political opponents of Nazism. During the war years, the
Nazis and their collaborators created ghettos, transit camps, and
forced-labor camps. Following the invasion of the Soviet Union in June
1941, Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units) carried out mass-murder
operations against Jews, Roma, and Soviet state and Communist party
officials. More than a million Jewish men, women, and children were
murdered by these units. Between 1942 and 1944, Nazi Germany deported
millions more Jews from the occupied territories to extermination
camps, where they murdered them in specially developed killing
facilities.

In the final months of the war, SS guards forced camp inmates on death
marches in an attempt to prevent the Allied liberation of large
numbers of prisoners. As Allied forces moved across Europe in a series
of offensives on Germany, they began to encounter and liberate
concentration camp prisoners, many of whom had survived the death
marches. World War II ended in Europe with the unconditional surrender
of German armed forces in the west on May 7 and in the east on May 9,
1945.

Observance

Every year, since 1989, the Isareli Knesset (in cooperation with “Yad
Vashem”) performs the ceremony of “Everyone Has a Name” in which the
names of all of the holocaust victims are read out loud.

Jews in North America observe Yom Hashoah within the synagogue as well
as in the broader Jewish community. Commemorations range from
synagogue services to communal vigils and educational programs. Many
Yom Hashoah programs feature a talk by a Holocaust survivor,
recitation of appropriate songs and readings, or viewing of a
Holocaust-themed film. Some communities choose to emphasize the depth
of loss that Jews experienced in the Holocaust by reading the names of
Holocaust victims one after another–dramatizing the unfathomable
notion of six million deaths. Many Jews light a yahrzeit (memorial)
candle on this day.

Darfur
Up to 400,000 people have lost their lives in Darfur since the
government-sponsored genocide began in 2003. More than 2.5 million
people have been displaced; their livelihoods and villages destroyed
by government forces and their proxy militias. These forces have raped
many thousands of women and girls. The humanitarian crisis that forms
part of the genocide continues, as a government-engineered famine
begins to unfold.

This Sunday, April 30th thousands will march on Washington to rally to
stop Genocide. For more information visit http://www.savedarfur.org

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3 Comments »

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  1. Perfect pages… tnx

  2. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  3. It is not just Darfur. It was not just the Nazis. In the 20th century, something between 50 million and 100 million people were killed by their own governments – after being disarmed by said governments.

    So do we believe in the natural right of self-defence? As in, the right to keep and bear arms? Only that will put teeth behind “Never again”.


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