Since becoming an Israel advocate/educator in 2014, I have had mixed feelings about International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day commemorates the Soviet Army’s liberation of Auschwitz, and absolutely, that army’s bravery should be acknowledged. However, it is also a UN designated day, one which for years has been fraught with UN hypocrisy. On this day, they pat themselves on the back for rescuing Jews, and the very next day, it is back to Israel bashing.
It is not enough to remember dead Jews, but it is even more important to acknowledge living Jews in their very alive Jewish homeland.
Yom HaShoah is what is marked in Israel, and it is the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The bravery of Jews is often lost in the Holocaust narrative.
Of course, it took many non-Jewish heroes to save Jews — the famous Oscar Schindler, the Japanese foreign diplomat, Albania, Singapore, and India, etc. But overwhelmingly it was small and still heroic acts by Jews themselves who were able to survive.
In my own family, my late grandfather’s almost entire family was murdered by both Nazis and Poles in Lvov, Poland (now, Ukraine). He survived because he was drafted into the Polish Army which was then taken over by the Red Army.
The Russians dumped them in the Ural Mountains where he met my late grandmother. My grandmother, at a relatively young age, made her entire family evacuate Belarus merely 5 days before the Nazis came. They traveled 16 hours in an arduous environment to reach a distant relative in the Urals.
My great grandfather pushed back against the evacuation and said that the Germans didn’t touch Jews during WWI, so not to worry. Luckily, my grandmother was persistent enough to save her family. My grandfather did not know what happened to his family until after the war. Only one of his brothers remained alive, and only because he made Aliyah to Israel in 1936.
On my paternal side, a relative was very close to his Belarusian Gentile friend, they were like brothers growing up. When the war started, his friend assured my relative that his parents would be safe even though they could not evacuate with everyone else.
When the war ended, my relative returned and his mother was found murdered- the very same ‘friend’ had turned on the family and killed his childhood friend’s mother. My relative, who was then in the Red Army, killed this murderer for betraying his family. As a result, the Red Army punished my relative and took away his gun rights, and banished him to a low-level, low-paying job for the remainder of his military career.
Almost the entire world colluded to orchestrate the massive-scale genocide against Jews— which is why it is not called a genocide, but a Holocaust, the Shoah. A strong Israel, liberated by Jews from the British, is the reason why we will never have another genocide against Jews, and certainly never another Holocaust.