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In Remembrance

Source: WIkimedia Commons
Source: WIkimedia Commons

Holocaust Remembrance Day is internationally recognized on the 27th day of the month of Nissan on the Hebrew calendar, which also marks the date of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. On this particular day in Israel a siren is sounded for two minutes while everything and everyone comes to a halt in complete silence and remembrance. There are usually ceremonies and speeches worldwide highlighting and remembering the genocide that took place against Jews not so long ago.

The year 1933 was not a very good year for Jews. In 1933, years before the deportation of Jews to death camps in 1942 began, several things were already taking place in Germany in preparation for the planned extermination of Jews. The rise of Hitler and the institution of his murderous policies did not happen in a vacuum, nor did they occur overnight, though the complete takeover by a madman was nevertheless done with frightening precision and almost uniform acquiescence from the populace which not only provided little or no resistance, but which actually cleared the roads, or rather the tracks, for a full speed ahead plan of action.

Within months after Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933, the following events took place. The Dachau concentration camp was opened, Jewish shops and businesses were boycotted, Jews were barred from universities, Jewish books, considered “unfit” for Germans, were burned publicly, and Jews were stripped of their citizenship.

That very same year, 1933, also marked the disarmament of German Jews which was initially limited to local areas but soon resulted in large-scale raids in search of weaponry- guns or knives- owned by Jews throughout Berlin.

In 1933 the Vatican became the first state to officially recognize Nazi Germany when the Roman Catholic Church signed a Concordat with the Nazi government. In 1933 the Editorship Law was passed which imposed strict rules on what newspapers were allowed to publish and which banned “non Aryans” from working in journalism.

While we mark days of remembrance of the atrocities perpetrated against Jews which should never be allowed to be forgotten, diminished, or misrepresented in any way, as some have tried to do, it behooves us to also remember the events that took place before the actual deportations and mass killings of Jews in the Holocaust by bullets and Holocaust by extermination took place.

It is incumbent upon us to examine the implications of policies that paved the way for Hitler’s plans to be instituted and which facilitated and enabled the eventual implementation of the Final Solution.

Though this is the year 2022, not 1933, one can’t help but detect more than a whiff of eerily similar circumstances.

When an organization such as BDS advocates to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction products made in Israel, the one Jewish state in the world, and when that organization gains legitimacy and support, even from members of US congress, we cannot ignore the implications of antisemitism when only Jewish products from a Jewish state are boycotted.

When protests are held at universities to bar Israel supporters from speaking, when professors in universities teach students – in direct opposition to reality- that Israel is an apartheid state which has no right to exist, when Israel Apartheid Week is an acceptable event at universities, but students supporting Israel are made to feel uncomfortable about displaying their Jewishness (a campus organization bearing that same name “SSI” has countered efforts to remove it from campuses), it is cause for alarm and we should all be united in protest.

Antisemitic crimes are on the rise. Jews are once again being targeted and singled out with threats simply because they are Jewish. Palestinian antisemitic rallies have been garnering support and occurring throughout Europe following antisemitic incitement. One such rally recently took place in Berlin, in April of 2022 (reminiscent of 1933) where slurs against Jews were shamelessly shouted.

We should recall and learn from 1933 and the progression of events leading up to the Holocaust even as we recall the Holocaust itself and even as we mourn the loss of 6 million Jews whose lives were cruelly exterminated, and the families of those 6 million whose losses can never be replaced. Not only should we recall what happened, but we should never forget how it happened. One man alone did not exterminate 6 million of our people. Hitler had support. The Nazis had support. Remember always that they had lots of help. Remember too that 6 million Jews died before Hitler was finally stopped.

May the memories of those killed in the Holocaust, including the grandparents and aunts whom I never had the privilege of meeting, always be for a blessing.

About the Author
Ettie Kryksman is a teacher and free lance writer who whose articles have appeared in various publications.
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