Sure, I know about the defeat of Germany in World War Two, how it was crushed between the armies of the Western powers and the mighty Red Army. The battles that entailed the deaths of almost 25 million citizens of the Soviet Union and the slaughter of countless hundreds of thousands of Allied troops by the wicked battalions of the Nazi menace and the casualties through fire and hot metal through the bombing of cities by both sides.
What is really striking is how close, albeit for some massive strategic errors and the madness of the German dictator, how close the Nazi Empire came to conquering Europe, North Africa, and winning the war. But for the overwhelming might of the Allied nations, after suffering defeat after defeat, and the conquest of the nations in both Western and Eastern Europe by the blitzkrieg juggernaut of the German armed forces, that the tide finally turned against the Hitlerian military machine and Hitler’s country was reduced to ashes and left in heaps of destroyed cities and ravished countryside.
But this was only the greater war that the Nazis lost. The war that they fought against the Jewish people still echoes in the heart and soul of man. At least, among those whose humanity is not deranged by mindless hatred and insulting bigotry.
Sure, the evidences of the liquidation of 6 million Jews, among that figure, almost 1.5 million children, has been a subject of study by some of the greatest minds of the age. Holocaust memorials and museums, chairs of study in universities and entire institutions dedicated to the study of this, the greatest crime of genocide in human history, are all over the planet. Even those few sickened individuals who deny the veracity of this incredible crime give means, through their contemptible controversy, the resolute desire to investigate this massive bloodletting even further. The fall of the Soviet Union opened up huge, formerly hidden, annexes of tons of records, both papers and films, of Nazi atrocities heretofore unknown.
Two thirds of European Jewry, one third of world Jewry, was slaughtered by the Nazi beasts and their accomplices. The wellspring of centuries of Jewish thought, culture and achievement, both for its own sake, and the benefit of the entire human race, were exterminated, “ausgevished”. Many world renown scholars, unlike this humble writer, have philosophized and attempted to explain the causality of such an ignominious crime, a murderous scale of sanguinary exploitation yet to be completely explained.
But, that is not my aim here. Yes, there are those who have written that the war waged against the Jewish people was a victory for the Nazis in that they came so perilously close to their ultimate goal of destroying European Jewry. There are those who aver that the main war was the conflict between the Jew and the Nazi, that the Germans went on their march of conquest to get to the Jews and that the war was fought, and nations conquered, not for material gain, but to reach out with bloody claws to kill the Jews. This, indeed, could be a subject for a doctoral dissertation all on its own.
But, I believe, with all my soul, that the Nazis lost the war against the Jewish people by a simple ceremony that I was privileged to witness today. No, not another statue erected of a freedom fighter with a grenade in his hand. Not the dedication of a new Holocaust museum or exhibit at a university. Nor, a symposium on the magnitude of the crime nor even a small lecture in a classroom on the root causes of Anti-Semitism. Nothing so dramatic, in fact, it was something quite wonderful and joyous.
It was a graduation ceremony of 4 year old Israeli schoolchildren at the nursery school where my wife works as a substitute teacher. These gorgeous girls and boys, all dressed up in their finest dresses and neatest shorts, wearing little party hats and bearing their “diplomas” came out into the playground of this small school in Jerusalem, on a brilliantly sun filled morning, to stand and sing in front of their gathered parents, grandparents, siblings and guests, and perform their little ceremony of graduation.
These precious children, all from many backgrounds, speaking English, Hebrew and Afrikaans, their parents all Israelis by birth and by choice, give proof to the fact that even in this tiny, Jewish country, surrounded by savage enemies, that we will still have children, still look to the future with hope and never surrender to the darkness behind us or the shadows around us.
Blondes, redheads, dark haired and both blue and brown eyed little kids, singing their folk songs in both English and Hebrew, their elders with cameras in their hands, pride on their faces and some with tears in their eyes, all so loving and protective of this generation. A free, proud youth not ever to know the bigotry that some of their forebears faced and fought, this new harvest of Jewish dignity and Israeli hopefulness, signifies the total defeat of the Nazi beast.
Imagine the courage it takes for people from lands of relative safety, not only to want to live in this endangered land, but to have the determination to raise children here, with all that entails. Not just the ordinary travails of parenthood-the ear infections at night, the teething of infants and the innumerable broken bones, skinned knees and elbows and orthodontists bills, but the knowledge that, one day, these 4 year old babes will wear the uniform of a military that has never rested for a day in the defense of the homeland. Indeed, I was having a conversation with one of the parents who was so overjoyed to see her little girl sing with her classmates the HaTikvah, “The Hope” Israel’s national anthem, and also tell me that her 18 year old son reports for induction to the Israel Defense Forces this August and her brother’s daughter has not been home from her unit near Gaza for almost a month.
This is the second war that Hitler lost-the war to destroy not only the Jewish people, but the Hebrew spirit that sustains this nation and will never falter. Sure, there are the pessimists who always point to what evil has been done to us and the apologists who try to explain it away and even those Diaspora weak in the knees, gutless among our own people who cringe whenever Israel does something that, in their inferiority dominated minds, seems to be un-Jewish-like fighting back and refusing to knuckle under to false and perniciously evil criticism.
My answer to them is the sight of 4 year old Israeli kids, full of life and with the sunshine of a Jerusalem morning on their faces. They represent the victory of the Jewish people over the forces of evil and hatred, they are the answer to seemingly unfathomable prejudice and destruction-they are the fruits of the Jewish victory over the Nazi, both the Nazis of the past, and the Nazis of today.
AM ISRAEL CHAI!
Shabbat Shalom from Maaleh Adumim in liberated Israeli Yehudah, guarding the eastern approaches to Jerusalem, the eternal, united and indivisible capital of the Jewish people.