Holocaust Memorial Day 2017

27 Jan

Holocaust Memorial Day always has a special place in my heart.

My mum was brought up in the Jewish faith, therefore my grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousins are Jewish. Although my mum married a non-Jewish man and in fact became a Christian many years ago and now attends church regularly. I have always had the privilege of learning and experiencing the Jewish faith. My Grandad was Polish. He thankfully managed to escape the holocaust, eventually starting a new life in London. Unfortunately his family were not so lucky. He would never speak about what happened, I guess the emotions were too raw as well as the heavy burden of feeling guilty that he survived and his family didn’t.

This year’s theme for Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘How Does Life Go On’ and it is something that makes me think. How does a person carry on?! People who witnessed people being murdered, starved and tortured, as well as the suffering they also suffered themselves. How do people overcome their family members, mother’s, father’s, siblings, children being murdered in such a ruthless evil abhorrent way.

I have always had such huge respect for survival victims of Genocides, despite the evil and unimaginable horror how people manage to go on and bring awareness and change despite knowing evil at its worst. How do you begin to forgive the perpetrators? Does justice ever bring closure? We are lucky to still have survivors of the Holocaust and other victims of genocide to bring their stories, to keep people’s memories alive. But even when we no longer have survivors alive to tell their stories, we still need to remember.

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness. For not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead, we are also responsible for what we are doing with those memories”. – Elie Wiesel
But it is not just about the past. What do we do about the future. How do we stand up when we see something happening that is so wrong. We look at places like Syria right now, evil of humanity at it’s worse just like the holocaust, except it is happening, even as I write this. We are fortunate enough with technology in the modern age not to have the excuse of being unaware of the suffering taking place. It is in the news, on social media. I am not sure of all the answers, but we can support those out there fighting by supporting charities that help, or support those rescuing people who have lost everything, not everyone can give money but many organisations are desperate for clothing and supplies. We can  and need to show kindness and compassion to those grieving. We should treat people how we want to be treated.

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must NEVER be a time when we fail to protest”. – Elie Wiesel.

I finish with this poem.

Though we did not witness their suffering
And though we did not bring about their deaths
It does not lesson the guilt that we feel
For those more than six million dead

Such numbers we can not imagine
And the atrocities, we did not see
But that does not lessen the tragedy
Of possibly the lowest point of humanity

We cannot forget what they went through
All that suffering without cause
All they did was hold on to what they believed in
Nothing against moral or criminal laws

But hope,
That was not forgotten
Even as they were lead to their final rest
And it is this hope that we should look back on
Not just the way they were so cruelly oppressed

And it may be hard to understand
Such horror caused purely by mankind
Yet, in order to prevent repeat
We must ensure that we keep the memory alive

So think back to the days of the Holocaust
And those who lost their precious lives
And know that we cannot let them ever be forgotten
So that in our minds, their unfailing hope survives

Serena Arthur ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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