60th Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation remembered
They gathered from far and wide, the survivors, the Jewish community leaders, the politicians, the royalty and over 3,000 security staff, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Red Army troops. Of the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, 1.1 million died in Auschwitz, the most notorious of Hitler’s death camps.
The event was duly sombre. The rail lines leading to Auschwitz were lined in fire and watching this I couldn’t help but feel I was witnessing a religious ceremony. The analogy is very fitting – Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Museum in DC are very temple-like. Abe Foxman of the ADL and Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Wiesenthal center are accorded the respect and importance that was once the exclusive domain of Torah scholars. Jews everywhere use the Holocaust and anti-semitism as the primary focus and manifestation of their Jewish identity.
Frankly, death as religion sucks.
Despite the ceaseless refrains of “never again” it has happened again, Hello Serbia! Howdy Rwanda! How ya doin’ Darfur? We haven’t learnt a damn thing, it’s pretty obvious. And even if we did learn some little teeny thing, seems like we’re rapidly forgetting it:
… that grim chapter in history is nevertheless losing its capacity to shock.
Even the word Holocaust, … may have become diluted by overuse — and by history’s more recent horrors and genocides.
An Environics poll published earlier this week in Canada found 30 per cent of Canadians surveyed couldn’t identify that Jews were the primary victims of the Holocaust.
In Poland, that number rose to about half of the population, according to a recent survey conducted there.
The numbers weren’t any better in Britain. A poll conducted for the BBC found that 45 per cent of adults had never heard of Auschwitz. The figure rose to 60 per cent among women and people under 35.
Consequently, I’m kind of getting tired of the central role the Holocaust is playing in the Jewish world and in notions of Jewish identity. Judaism for me at least, is not about hatred and death – it’s about peace and love. I’ll let you all think about that because I have to go and enjoy Shabbat in Jerusalem. Shabbat Shalom!