The duty to voice an outcry

More than sixty years have passed since the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Annually, the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day takes place among us. This is the day on which we should bow our heads and outcry the voices of the mutes; the outcry of those who were with us, but not anymore; the outcry of those who were in flesh and blood; the outcry of those whose ashes piled between the hills of Auschwitz and fields of Treblinka; the outcry of those whose ashes washed in the rivers of Poland; and the outcry of those whose voices were silenced but their spirits is still floats over our heads, and their heart’s beats are echoing in our ears. Especially on this day, it behooves us to shed our national gown, religious hat, and name’s mask. On this day in particular, we must wrap the gown of God, wear the hat of faith, and bear the name of the mankind. After all, man was created in God’s image.

Years have passed since the Nazi dictator put his hand on the throne of tyranny; years have passed since this cruel hand was amputated; years have passed and the wound is still alive; years have passed and the memory is still bitter; years have passed and the pain hovering above us; years have passed and the suffering of survivors, their relatives, beloveds and neighbors continues to seep into personal grief cells, into the depths of the human sorrow and grief.

On this day, we have to stand next to each other; shoulder to shoulder and side by side, holding each other’s hand, one shoulder clutching the other, and our fingers are twisted to the full. On this day, we have to bow our heads in memory of the victims of the Holocaust; those who are no longer among us, but their spirits, souls, sighs, voices, loves, angers and outcries are still interface with our spirits. On this day, we must embrace those who were rescued, by the hand of fate, from the grip of the Nazi arm; those who live whispering among us; those whose eyes are sore and their hearts are dripping with tears. On this day, we must strengthen those whose beloveds’ memory breaks their hearts, day after day, captivating their minds, moment by moment; and lowering their eyes forever. On this day, we must stand as one of the specifically human, irrespective of religion, race or sex.

At the end of the WWI, the Weimar Republic was established in Germany; which sought to design a constitutional liberal democratic regime that protects human rights. Since then, the Weimar Constitution was considered among the leading Western constitutions. It provided a true expression of the meaning of democracy in the formal sense, and it served as a platform for democracy in the sense of the majority. It is within the Republic of Weimar that the Nazi regime emerged. There, in the name of democracy, a regime that promotes and supports hatred and racism emerged. There, fearing the true meaning of democracy, the Nazi regime came to power. There, in the name of “defensive democracy,” popped the first signs of the Nazi tyranny.

The weakness of the Weimar Constitution was prominent with the rise of the Nazis to power, including the abuse of power that the law and the Constitution granted the majority with. The weakness of the Weimar Constitution stood out when it was helpless at the time the Nazi regime oppressed the rights of minorities and all those who do not belong to the Aryan race. The weakness of the Weimar Constitution was discovered when the formal democracy tightly bound the hands of its judges, by enforcing the “rule of law,” be as immoral as it might be, instead of the “rule of Law”; the rule of the good, just and moral law. The Weimar Constitution was very weak precisely because the judiciary was disadvantaged compared to the executive branch. Judges have become a means for Hitler’s evil aspirations. The judiciary was stripped of its independency. It was then that “defensive democracy” turned into Hitler’s murderous dictatorship.

That Hitler’s vile dictatorship is the one that prompted the dreadful death industry against Poles, Soviet, Gypsies and Jews. This event has been and remains one of a kind, both in relation to humanity in general and about the Jews in particular. As the devil, in the name of hatred, racism and racial purity send the Nazi regime its hand to interrupt the lives of millions of innocent people. At this point there was no doubt how much power corrupts; how murderous power can be; and how deadly tyranny is.

This event is not a mere historic event. This is a seminal event accompanying humanity in general and the Jewish People in particular, every year, month, hour, minute and second. Human history is full of immoral events, and the Holocaust is on top of these immoral events. Not only that, but the denial of the Holocaust itself is the epitome of immorality; it aims at provocation and insult, for the sake of contempt and humiliation, against those who were and still are the victims of the Nazi enterprise. I despise Holocaust deniers. This should be the opinion of all mortal people alike. Let us not degrade the Holocaust; we shall not abuse its victims’ memory.

When the Germans occupied Tunisia – where about a hundred thousand Jews lived – Jews were required to work the Yellow Badge; some of them were sent to labor camps in Tunisia, and others were sent to concentration camps in France. Khaled Abdul- Wahab, an Arab Tunisian Muslim citizen, was employed by the Germans as an interpreter and liaison between the Nazis and the local population in the city of Mahdia. After learning that Nazi officers were preparing to stop the Jewish Odette Bucharis, he brought her, along with 24 members of her family, thus hiding them in his farm, for a period of four months, until the end of the Nazi occupation of Tunisia. Later, and after his death, in 2007, Abdul-Wahab won the “Righteous Among the Nations” status.

As for me, I do not know if the Holocaust would have happened in every case, even if good people were making their voices heard; but surely its scope could have been narrower had those good people cried out against Nazi tyranny. The “Silence of the Lambs” is one of the major components of the commemoration of the deadly power of the Nazi regime. The fear of the good people from being tagged as “traitors,” had they cried out, was a temporary concern, but their outcry could have been an eternal one, had they decided to voice it out. They chose to remain silent, they chose to be “patriots,” they did not prevent the worst; they did not prevent “genocide.”

Said spoken by many is: “When the cannons roar, the muses fall silent”. But we are not muses. As human beings, just when the cannons roar, our outcry should ring in the sky. We shall not be another lamb the drove of the silent lambs; we shall not gallop blindly in the march of folly; and we shall not allow the Pied Piper from Hamelin lead us to our death. Indeed, the Holocaust is a one of a kind, and yet we have no guarantee that it will not occur again. May this atrocity will not recur. It is only the faith of people, wherever they are humans.

About the Author
Professor Mohammed Wattad is Associate Professor of Law and Dean of the Law School at Zefat Academic College. He clerked for Israel’s Supreme Court. Expert in Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, and International Criminal Lawץ