How an encounter with the Holocaust changed a young boy’s life

I wrote this the evening of the 4th of May 2016 – Yom HaShoah
Today is a sad day….

Today is a very moving day for me and for all those who refuse to forget. Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, in Israel. The little Middle Eastern country that is the only refuge for the majority of the fifteen million descendants of Jacob-Israel who today still remain alive. Many of them direct descendants, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, cousins of the six million who were marched into the ovens. Men, women and children alike. Starved to the point of any strength or possibility of fighting back. Treated like innocent lambs to the slaughter rather than human beings. Depriving them of their right to life and their dignity.

Utter devastation imposed on them by a political group that was unfit to lick their boots, a fascist regime that remain a stain on humanity.

The National Socialist Workers Party (Nazis) somehow managed to convince their people they were doing the right thing. A group of people with literally no compassion and no humanity. A group of monsters.

“Next year in Jerusalem” never became a reality for the six million who perished at the hands of Nazi brutality.  Among them people like Anne Frank who died in Bergen Belsen concentration camp at around the age of fourteen. Who could have been liberated if she had  lasted a mere two to three weeks longer when my next door neighbour Mike, who died only a few weeks ago, marched with his merry band of brothers, as members of the British Army 11th Armoured Division, into the death camp to liberate the survivors of this terrible place.

My indirect connection to this day is not based on personal suffering, like so many of my friends but merely on a feeling of first horror and now of empathy, from a seven year old non-Jewish boy who watched a documentary about this terrible human catastrophe. A piece of television so devastating to a child that it has marked my conscience for life and made an imprint on my soul like a size eleven steel toe capped jackboot. That day marked a pivotal moment in my life. The day I lost my naivity and my innocence.

I remember I used to sneak downstairs early to watch cartoons on our black and white TV while my parents were in bed. The cartoons that morning were pretty old ones that I’d seen several times already so I flipped the TV over to a channel that I had never really been interested in watching before and there it was as macabre as any horror film.

Judging by the way the narrator was describing it I knew this horror was real. I still to this day don’t remember any actual details about it as I had blocked as much of it as I could from my memory but the images still persist to this day and are dragged up anytime the Holocaust is mentioned.

That sombre day, sneaking downstairs and watching this horrific documentary was something that I finally recognise helped define me. Something my parents (if they had known) would have never let me see at such a young age. Something that would have made my father recoil with disgust and bring tears to the eyes of my mother. Something I was glued to whilst salty tears rolled so readily down my cheeks.

Once I’d finished watching it I ran upstairs crying to my mother “how can they do that? How?”

This is my meagre association with this day. An association not based on personal suffering in any real sense unlike my friend Michal from Haifa, Northern Israel. One of the first members of her family to have had the good fortune to have been born in Israel and the bad fortune to have lost many family members to the Shoah.

Today is a reminder of one of the many times in human history a group of ignorant hateful excuses for humanity tried to destroy the Jewish people. A people who’s only crime is to want to fit in whilst retaining their unique ethnically Jewish identity. The Holocaust wasn’t the first or the last attempt to destroy the Jewish people but today it is a reminder of how important the State of Israel is to ensuring the self determination of the Jewish nation and their uniqueness in this world and it is the very meaning of Zionism. And today is a reminder to me of how watching that documentary has made me a better person

I hate all forms of bigotry and have the compassion to realise that self determination is all important.  Which is the very reason why I am proud to call myself a Zionist. Because Jewish self determination is important to me. Why? Firstly because I never want to see the descendants of the people in that documentary go though this hell on earth again, secondly because Great Britain, my own homeland, is so inextricably linked to the re-birth of the Jewish homeland through the Balfour declaration and our part in creating the League of Nations Mandate. Legally granting the Jewish people a renewed homeland in their historical homeland which includes Jerusalem and the cradle of their people’s birth Judea. And lastly, because it’s the right thing to do.

So today I spend my time thinking about how lucky I am to not have to cry out “Why did you murder MY family?”

Today I remember those who were murdered for no reason.

And today I also think of those who survived and now thrive.

And in the course of under seventy years those incredible people have become a “light unto the nations”.

Today I am relieved to say…

Am Yisrael Chai – עם ישראל חי

About the Author
Paul Randall is just a simple man. He is not a Hollywood actor, political guru or famous author. But he has a need to do his bit for peace by making a contribution now and again.
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