Holocaust Remembrance Day: May 5, 2016
It is a solemn day to remember the six million Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust.
The Innocence of a Child
Anne Frank stands as the most memorable child of World War II and one of the most enduring children of all of history. Anne is a testimony to the dignity of the human being and that virtue endures despite the darkest possibility of inhumanity.
"The Diary of Anne Frank" charts the two years of this young Jewish girl from 1942-1944 when she hid with her family and another family from the Nazis. The book has become one of the critical documents of the twentieth century and profoundly inspires diversity, the power of the pen, and the triumph of good over evil.
Anne's book is one of the world's most read literary treasures, selling over 25 million copies and being translated into 67 different languages.
As a German-Jewish teenager, Anne was forced into hiding to escape execution from the Nazis during the Holocaust. After 25 months of hiding with her family, she was betrayed to the Nazis and deported to the Bergen-Bergen concentration camp. She died at 15 years old of typhus in March of 1945 while in the concentration camp.
Despite the dark chaos of intolerance, hatred, and ignorance during her time, Anne Frank continued to believe in the goodness of humanity. On July 15, 1944, Anne wrote:
Testimonial of a Holocaust Survivor
As a counterpoint to the evil that took place in Auschwitz, I am reminded of an event I took part in on March 28, 2007. The Anti-Defamation League celebrated a Solidarity Seder with law enforcement, government, community, faith-based, corporate, and citizen guests in Trenton, N.J. It was fittingly held at the Trenton War Memorial—a national historic site—built as “a great community center” dedicated to the memory of American soldiers and sailors who died fighting World War I.
Prior to the Seder, a representative of the Anti-Defamation League explained the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. Contradicting their hatred, he shared these treasured words of Emma Lazarus inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty:
Testimonials were then shared, including one from a young man who spoke about the heartbreak of seeing his mother arrested as they attempted to enter America from Mexico. This young man went on to proudly become an American citizen and applied to become a member of the United States Army. Another young man stated there are no complaints about immigration as American’s enjoy the fruits and vegetables harvested through the labor and sweat of immigrants working on farms.
The most moving testimonial was by Holocaust survivor Shelly Zeiger who spoke passionately about “the town’s fool.” This man, lovingly referred to as Anton by Zeiger, was ridiculed as a misfit by his townspeople in western Ukraine and considered a fool because of his obsessive respect for all life.
Although a Catholic, Anton risked his own life to hide Jewish neighbors in his home. Anton hid Shelly, his father and mother, and two girls from the Nazis in the Zbrow ghetto for 27 months beginning in 1942. Shelly said, “Anton was truly a hero who teaches us to respect each human being, for courage can be found in the most unlikely of persons.”
After the war, Shelly and his family came to America. Years later, he mustered enough courage to go back to his hometown in the Ukraine to find Anton. He found him and brought him to live with him and his family in America, a country whose appreciation for diversity is the heartbeat of the nation and the world.
Liberation Monument, Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ
The legacy of America urges a rebirth of patriotism that will transform us once again into a nation destined to be a hope for the world through our commitment to moral leadership, persevering vigilance, and dedicated collaboration.
In an atrocity unparalleled in evil and scope, six million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust. Between 1940 and 1945, about 1.5 million men, women, and children died at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.
Night by Elie Wiesel
"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never."
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1. US Army medics help evacuate ill and starving survivors, Buchenwald, Germany, April 1, 1945. (US Holocaust Memorial Museum)
2. Diary of Anne Frank
3. Inmates waving a home-made American flag greet U.S. Seventh Army troops upon their arrival at the Allach concentration camp on April 30, 1945.
(Photo credit: National Archives, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives)
4. The Liberation Monument (Bill Kimbark)