International Holocaust Memorial Day
Once again, the world prepares for Yom HaShoah (The Catastrophe, or The Utter Destruction) in memory of all the Jews who were killed during the Holocaust, of all the survivors, as well as those who fought against the Nazis: the partisans, the Members of the Underground, those in the Ghettos who fought, and the Righteous Gentiles who saved Jews. At 11:00 a.m. in Israel, sirens will sound for two minutes, and around the world, Jews and others will stand in silence for reflection, meditation, and devotion.
We must never let The Holocaust happen again. Not to the Jews. Not to any group of people based on their ethnicity, their religious beliefs, or the color of their skin. We must actively fight against intolerance and bigotry. We must prevent genocide. How can we do that if we do not actively remember what the Nazis did to the bulk of the European Jews between 1932 and 1945?
Some people do not know that the persecution started long before the War. The Nazis were not peaceful and friendly with the Jews one day, then gassing them and putting them in crematorium ovens the next. It was a gradual process: identification, segregation, loss of property, loss of employment, deportation, isolation, death from starvation and work, then systematic extermination. At each step, others had to stand by, silently, passively, and permit such persecution. At each stage, whole groups of people and entire countries gave the Nazis permission by not actively opposing them.
It has now been 71 years since the end of the War and the Liberation of the Concentration Camps, 84 years since Hitler was elected to power and began to slowly implement his anti-Semitic policies against the Jews. Soon, there will be no survivors left to remind the living that The Holocaust was real; it did happen; it is not a fairy tale created by anyone.
Yad Vashem, The History of the Holocaust Museum in Israel, has gathered many stories of survivors, taping them so that we may remember. So that The Holocaust may never happen again. In preparation for Yom HaShoah, I watched some of the survivors’ stories. I want to share some with you.
Holocaust History Museum
Yad Vashem’s world famous Holocaust History Museum is a prism-like triangular structure that penetrates the mountain from one side to the other, with both ends dramatically cantilevering into the open air. An experiential dimension was integrated into the museum’s design, giving visitors an overall impression of the time, place and atmosphere. Inside the museum, a series of diagonal channels cut in the floor of the walkway (prism) guides the visitor into each of the eight-meter high underground galleries depicting different chapters of the Shoah. The gently sloping floor and narrowing prism enhances the changing narrative, creating the illusion of descending deep into the mountain. Different aspects of the Holocaust are reflected through the use of original artifacts, documentation, testimonies, film, literature, diaries, letters, and works of art (from Yad Vashem). Virtual Tour
Elie Wiesel — recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace, Human Rights Activist, and renowned author — was 15 when the Nazis deported him, along with his family, from their home in Transylvania to Auschwitz. Losing both his parents and younger sister in the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel has made it his lifelong goal to teach the world about the Holocaust. In the video he commemorates his father by filling out a Page of Testimony for Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names. By filling out a Page for his father, who perished in Buchenwald concentration camp shortly before liberation, Elie Wiesel added his father to the millions of Holocaust victims commemorated by family and friends. Through the Pages of Testimony the victims names and identities are restored, that which the Nazis and their collaborators had tried to erase forever (from Yad Vashem Holocaust Histories). Elie Wiesel commemorates his father.
Please join me and millions of others this Yom HaShoah, as well as the days before and after, remembering the victims, the activists, and the survivors of the Holocaust.
For a Photographic Introduction to the Holocaust, visit my Pinterest Board
Learn about The Holocaust on USHMM
(United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
For more information on the database or
to fill out Pages of Testimony, visit
Yad Vashem‘s Central Database of Shoah Victims