Never Forget (letter to the editor)

Earlier just this week, Americans celebrated MLK Jr day, a day to remember the efforts and achievements of the great civil rights leader. We also recalled –and perhaps seeked forgiveness– for the poor treatment African-Americans and other Black Americans had to endure for equal rights, just because of their skin color. It’s great that the holiday is so widely recognized; in fact, many businesses will be closed in remembrance. However, there is another holiday that doesn’t get nearly the amount of recognition it deserves, even though its premise is almost exactly the same; Yom Ha-Shoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. It all began in the 1930’s, when the rise of the Third Reich brought the ideas of Adolf Hitler into a popular light in Germany. It was his belief that the world would be better off with a superior race–the Aryans– and completely eliminated of “inferior” races like the Jews (a quick note here: Judaism is a race, not necessarily a religion. It is possible to be Jewish without believing in God). Slowly, German Jews were stripped of their rights as citizens until finally, on November 9, 1938, Kristallnacht occurred; thousands of Jews were beaten to death and thousands more sent to concentration camps, and synagogues and Jewish shops were ransacked and set to fire, all on one night. Over a span of seven terrifying years since that night, German Nazis were ordered to seek out and eliminate any and all Jews who happened to be around. At first, sections of towns were walled off and filled with Jews, coining the term Ghettos. Later on, they were packed on to cattle rail cars and sent to various Concentration Camps throughout Germany, where they were put into giant ovens, gas chambers, or forced to literally dig their own graves-hundreds of Jews would dig giant holes and then were shot where they stood. By the end of World War II, over 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis–a third of the world population of Jews–just because of their race. Sound familiar? One might wonder, “what does this have to do with us, the Americans? We were trying stop the Germans.” This is true; however, America didn’t enter World War II until after Pearl harbor in 1941–three years after Kristallnacht. And America’s primary goal was to stop the spread of Fascist Nazis, with the end of Jewish genocide as a fringe benefit. One might think America as the taker of the high ground, always aiding countries in need. On the contrary, ships containing Jews looking for escape from Germany and Poland were more often than not turned away from our shores. Sure, we were the first to recognize the state of Israel, but that was in 1948, three years after WWII. It is important, therefore, that we in America observe this holiday, just as important as any remembrance day. Never has a mass genocide occurred in this caliber, and perhaps never again. So please, on May 2nd this year, take a little time from your day to mourn for the loss of six million jews, six million lives taken just because of their race.