This last week has made me angry, sad as well as bringing horrible pictures back to my mind when as a shocked thirteen year old, I learned about the Holocaust. So what has the Holocaust taught you Messers Trump, Orban and Salvini?
Perhaps you’ve never felt the everlasting pain and fear as a consequence of what your family survived, on how relatives perished, what was lost, on not having grandparents, aunts and uncles, as well as cousins. Obviously you don’t care about humans and human rights because you are separating children from their parents and putting them in cages. You want people to be jailed for helping refugees and even one of you wants to register all Roma people in your country and to deport them if possible.
You are repeating the most evil behaviour in modern history.
Jews in the Lódz (Poland) Ghetto are restrained behind a barbed-wire and wooden fence separating the ghetto from the rest of the city. A German soldier took this photograph, which, along with others, was found after the war in his abandoned apartment. Photo: Frank Morgens
But can any positive lessons be learned as well?
I think of the obvious names, Schindler, Wallenberg, Anne Frank, and I am reminded of the humanity brought forth by their words or actions. I consider the Albanians, Italians and Danes who did not collaborate, and in fact, risked their lives to save Jews. I ponder how German and Poles aided Jews, while their whole community encouraged them to be murderers.
And I think of the survivors themselves who refused to die, even when facing overwhelming, if not impossible, odds to live. They lost everything – their homes, occupations, belongings, family and friends, places of worship, and yet they started again, in new lands with different languages and culture. We have so many displaced persons due to war, persecution and violence on this globe right now and they are facing the same crisis. I hope for the good people in your countries Messers Trump, Orban and Salvini who want to help those in need and resist you. These people appeared the last time the horror started and they will stand up this time too.
Those who uttered the Shema even as they faced their own deaths. People adopting babies so those children could live. The many who gave food to the weaker ones. The wives of Jews who boldly protested that their men be released. The neighbour who kept things later reclaimed by survivors. The brave people who rescued Torahs from synagogues set on fire.
So many other tales unknown.
The Holocaust was a deep, dark period in the history of Europe and must never be repeated. But from this period came us, our generation, going forward into the future. Setting up a charter of human rights and building a European Union which values human dignity and life for all humans. The USA stood beside us and will do again when this horrible parody of a president is gone.
What I have learned from the Holocaust is that people have great courage, daring, sheer guts, fortitude, determination, strength of character, moral compass, will power, hope, stubbornness, the power to resist and fight, to love, sacrifice, believe, look forward, and even dream.
We will win this fight Messerss Trump, Orban and Salvini.
We have learned our lesson and we are on the right side of history.