Wednesday Reflection


27th January 2021

commemorating the tragedy

Today is International Holocaust
Remembrance Day.

It is an international memorial day
commemorating the tragedy of the
Holocaust that occurred during
the Second World War.

It marks the anniversary of the
liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau,
the largest Nazi death camp and
commemorates the genocide that
resulted in the deaths of
6 million Jews and
11 million others,
by the Nazi regime
and its collaborators.

The Jewish people had done nothing wrong.
They were targeted simply because
they were Jewish.

Nearly 7 out of every 10 Jews
living in Europe
at the time were killed.

The Nazis also killed millions of other
people just because of who they were.
For example, Roma gypsies,
disabled people and
gay people were also targeted.

On two of my visits to Israel
I visited Yad Vashem -
The World Holocaust
Remembrance Centre
and found it a profoundly
disturbing and moving

It is set on the beautiful slopes
of the Mount of Remembrance
on the edge of Jerusalem.

The new Yad Vashem Museum
opened in 2005 and its
nine chilling galleries
of interactive historical displays
present the Holocaust
using a range of multimedia
including photographs, films,
documents, letters, works of art,
and personal items found
in the camps and ghettos.

Yad Vashem is a place
which is not fun to visit,
but is definitely somewhere
that I would recommend
all visitors to Israel
to experience.

The museum leads into
the Hall of Names,
an eerie space containing over
three million names and many
pictures of Holocaust victims
that were submitted by their
families and relatives.

In addition to the
Holocaust History Museum,
the Yad Vashem campus
has a number of other
chilling memorials
which you can visit.

These include the
Hall of Remembrance,
where the ashes of the dead
are buried and an eternal flame
burns in commemoration.

As you walk down the spiral walkway
in semi-darkness you can
hear the names recited.
Yad Layeled,
the children's memorial,
which commemorates the one and a
half million Jewish children
who perished in the Holocaust.

The Memorial to the Deportees,
a railroad car hanging over
the cliff on the road
winding down from the mountain
commemorating those
who were deported.

The incredible yet chilling
architecture of Yad Vashem
sets an eery atmosphere.

The Avenue of the Righteous
Among the Nations
has over 2,000 trees
which were planted in honour
of non-Jews who endangered
their lives in order to rescue
Jews from the Nazis.

We need to remember
if we are to learn lessons
from this or another other atrocities,
we cannot forget or
sweep them under the carpet.

Any atrocity teaches us about
what it means to be human.
I believe we are not all
motivated by greed,
selfishness or hate;
but what the Holocaust reveals
is that humanity has the capacity
to do wonderful things,
and yet also to perpetrate
the most unimaginable horrors.

We need to speak up and act against
racism, hate, anti-Semitism, injustice -
and against the crime of crimes -
genocide; which is still going
on in the world today.

And always, against indifference,
or being bystanders to injustice.
For in what we say,
or more importantly in what we do,
we will be making a statement
about ourselves as a people.

For in our day, more than ever,
whoever remains indifferent
indicts themselves.
As Edmund Burke,
the great Anglo-Irish statesman
and philosopher said,
over 200 years ago:

"The only thing necessary
  for the triumph of evil
  was that good men
  should do nothing."

Irwin Cotler wrote in
The Jerusalem post in 2011

'It is our responsibility
 as citizens of the world
 to give voice to the voiceless,
 as we seek to empower
 the powerless -
 be they the disabled,
 the poor, the refugee,
 the elderly,
 the women victims of violence,
 the vulnerable child -
 the most vulnerable
 of the vulnerable.

 We remember - and we trust -
 that never again will we be silent
 or indifferent in the face of evil.
 May this International Day
 of Holocaust Remembrance
 be not only an act
 of remembrance,
 but a remembrance to act.

It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
'Were You There
(When They Crucified My Lord)'
A Capella
sung by Pegasis
via the link shown below.