“Avadim HaYinu L’Hitler B’Auschwitz – “We were slaves to Hitler in Auschwitz”
In at least two scenarios that I have read about, Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz-Birkenau sang these lyrics on Pesach. These individuals were current slaves and they had every reason to neglect celebrating Pesach. These specific people, though, chose to commemorate the holiday in the best way they could, in a way they could relate to at that moment in time. Whether they believed that the rest of the song – V’yotziaynu Hashem Elokeinu b’yad chazaka u’v’zeroa netuya (and G-d took us out with a strong hand and an outstretched arm) – would be fulfilled for themselves or not is irrelevant, and we should never judge them for whatever they believed or did either way. They were enslaved in a living hell, yet they still marked Pesach despite all that they were enduring. Their story and their song should inspire us all. They chose to mark the holiday. While indeed they were physically imprisoned, their Jewish spirits were free. In this holiday of freedom, let us remember that despite difficult times that may occur, our souls will always be free.
In memory of my great-uncle, Karl Birenbaum (Kadysz ben Anshel HaKohen z”l), a Holocaust survivor who passed away on the 4th of Nissan.