I live in Göteborg (Gothenburg) in Sweden. I am a Jew, living a traditional Jewish life, and I am the son of Auschwitz/Birkenau survivor. I have devoted much of my adult life to lecturing about the Holocaust and its consequences. In the beginning, my mother and I were doing this together but after her passing, I continued on my own. What we warned our audiences of and talked about will now take place in my hometown.
On September 30, the Nazi organization NMR, ”the Nordic Resistance Movement”, will ”demonstrate” (read: march) in central Göteborg. On their website they call for “national uprising” and they are counting on gathering at least 1000 participants.
On September 30th, we Jews celebrate Yom Kippur.
“The day will come when those who killed them, now too, are trying to deny them their deaths.”
NMR claims openly and without hesitation that we Jews are the cause of all evil and that they wish to implement Hitler’s final solution, that is the mass murder of us Jews.That left-wing groups come to Göteborg simultaneously to seek confrontation and stop the Nazis by means of violence is not ruled out. There may be a lot of violence in central Göteborg.
The Nazi demonstration/march will pass about 100 meters from our synagogue, a synagogue where we Jews will come and go throughout this our holiest day of the year. “The day will come when those who killed them, now too, are trying to deny them their deaths.”, the former leader of the Swedish People’s Party Per Ahlmark, once wrote about the Holocaust.
“The Holocaust never happened”
“The Holocaust never happened,” say the Nazis, ”but it is a pity that Hitler did not finish the job.” This is the point to which we have now arrived. The above views is now being disseminated on streets and squares on a daily basis and on our holiest day, The Day of Atonement, in my city.
I live in Göteborg. As the son of a survivor from Auschwitz/Birkenau, I have chosen to live a traditional Jewish life, and during a large part of my adult life I have lectured about the Holocaust and its consequences – and now I and my fellow Jews here in Göteborg are faced with the reality which I, and my mother when she was still alive, lectured about and said must not happen again. But now it is happening again.
How are we to respond to the evil shown to us and our unimaginably naive police force that have given the Nazis demonstration permit on this day? And, in addition, the NRM also arranged an unauthorized demonstration just the other day where there they consistently ignored the police, who did nothing.
For those who do not know what Yom Kippur means, I’ll quickly tell you this: From the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, it’s 10 days to Yom Kippur. These 10 days are a time of reflection and reconciliation with the mistakes committed during the previous year. Our goal is to become better people in the coming year. We should contact people we have wronged and try to mend our ways and correct the mistakes we have made. Everything leads up to Yom Kippur, when we finally ask the Creator for reconciliation and forgiveness for our mistakes against the Creator himself. Most of us fast for a night and a day in order to focus on the reconciliation with the Creator, but also in order to gain increased awareness of our dependence on daily food and drink as well as other basic living conditions. At Yom Kippur we stand alone but in group before the Creator. At the end of the day a Shofar, a horn, is blown, as a symbol of forgiveness and the opportunity to begin living a life of higher morality than the past year.
The Nazis are marching in my hometown during Yom Kippur
That the Nazis have chosen this day is no coincidence. The Nazis especially enjoyed violating Jews on this day and days like this, before and during the war. “Do not believe that your prayers and the pursuit of high morals have any chance against our power and our ability to do what we want with you.” – This is the message that the Nazis and those who hate us want to convey.
In 1973, the Jewish state of Israel was attacked on Yom Kippur, in an attempt to complete the Holocaust through the extinction of the Jewish state. Israel managed to win the war, but it was very tough fighting with great losses in human life.
We have, of course, tried to put an end to the demonstration, and we are astonished at the weakness of the Swedish police against an organisation that has the extermination of us Jews, on their agenda. Hence, an undemocratic organisation like this utilizes the open and democratic system for its own very undemocratic purposes.
The survivors’ way of dealing with evil
We also respond by highlighting the survivors’ ways of responding to the evil.
I have worked in a Jewish retirement home as a nurse and I know that the now aged survivors are tormented every night with anxiety and flashbacks; they relive the war. However, they still get up every morning and go through their morning routines and live their lives in a dignified manner and by that they show us an attitude that we who were born after the Holocaust must adhere to – because it is our duty to do so.
Despite the hell in Auschwitz/Birkenau, the survivors chose to hold on to the Jewish way of protesting. They chose to try to sanctify life. They tried to rebuild their lives with the help of the basic moral standards we have always chosen to live after, and with God’s help.
They chose life before death.
They chose life before death.
They chose to show that our morality and faith in the inviolability of life are stronger than death.
They showed us that the Jewish way of life also defeated and still defeats the Nazis.
They showed us the attitude we now must show, and one that we have an absolute duty to follow.
That is what we are now facing here in Gothenburg.
We will show everyone that we still pray to God on the Day of Atonement and that we will not let the madmen and their evil ways win.
We are asking for a better year, that we will be better people and we show each other and everyone else that we never let anyone trample on us ever again.
We have an obligation to honour all the Jews who, despite persecution and death, have inherited the greatest gift – life – in which our faith in the individuals gain over death.
That’s what we’re going to show all those who think they can walk all over us again.
Through the State of Israel and through our way of living we are taking back our place on the stage and there we will stay, no matter what happens. Because no alternative exists.