A while ago, someone made a comment. One innocently written, but filled with idle thought. A thought that, if put into action, or even spread, could become less than innocent.
In reply to someone’s trip to Auschwitz, this person stated that if they went there, they would be overcome with emotion—a response that would in no way be out of place. Yet, it was their ideas on what should be done with Auschwitz that might cause anyone’s heart to stop and start erratically.
They wanted Auschwitz burned to the ground. They wanted it removed and replaced with a beautiful memorial garden so people could travel there, sit, and remember the horrors… but with the evidence of the atrocities destroyed.
They did not understand…
- that the Nazis also WANTED and saw to it that MANY of the other extermination camps were burned to the ground to cover their tracks.
- that by burning Auschwitz to the ground today, they would be helping Nazi and anti-Semitic causes.
- that many Holocaust survivors actually travel with their families to the site, as it holds great meaning to the Jewish people.
- that if the evidence of Auschwitz ‘dies,’ many MORE people could one day die in the same way.
They did not understand…
- that 66% of millennials in the USA do not even know what Auschwitz is.
- that anti-Semitism is pushing the rapid growth of anti-Semitic acts: a 57% increase in the USA between 2016 & 2017 alone and a 74% increase in France between 2017 & 2018, and many other increases worldwide.
They simply did not understand. Yes, their comment may have been thought as kind… even sincere. But the ideas behind it were dangerous.
As it stands today, Auschwitz is virtually the only place—the only physically visual statement—that Holocaust deniers would have a hard time disputing. Because, if they can somehow deny the truth of the film reels, the documentation, the witness statements, and families destroyed… then maybe, just maybe, having to walk the place where so many of the 6 million murdered Jews met their end, might make a dent. Auschwitz, as crazy as it might sound, lends hope to the remaining survivors that their suffering was not in vain; because, as long as Auschwitz still stands, people remember what happened.
Why the saying, “Never Again!”?
There is a saying that is practically an anthem for many Jewish people and all anti-Holocaust supporters. “Never Again!” It rings clear with truth; with the promise that everyone who says it—who believes it—will not passively allow mass slaughter again. That a holocaust like the one so recently known will not occur on our watch.
It is why each branch of the IDF—the Israeli Defense Forces—is so highly trained… so determined and selfless.
Because that land was hard won, and her people deserve a safe place. Because with the alarming rise of anti-Semitism, a safe place is not an option for the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—our brothers and sisters in Messiah.
Israel is situated in the middle of a sea. Not wholly physical, but real. For they have enemies trying to destroy them on all sides, with almost no allies to help. Every Israeli knows that if they do not fight to keep their land and their lives, both will be taken by force.
So they say, “Never Again!”
Why is a belief in the Holocaust so important?
Belief in the Holocaust does not automatically mean belief in the sovereignty of Israel, yet, even if it did, it acts as more than a shield of protection for Israel alone. It is a shield of protection for Jews the world over. For minorities, religions, and any other people group who could easily find themselves selected for mass genocide.
Jews were not the only victims of the genocide in WWII. Yet, of the 11 million who died, 6 million of them were Jews. 6 million who were systematically dehumanized, degraded, and slaughtered. And for every one of them, hearts were shattered—and ache to this day.
Whole families were destroyed in an instant. Relatives living abroad—or even in the same country—were left to wonder and hope for letters of their safety. Letters never to arrive. Children made to slave and live off of indescribable ‘food.’ Infants and pregnant mothers shot down or gassed. The elderly discarded as if their years of wisdom were a hindrance instead of an asset. All those moments of pain are buried in the walls of places like Auschwitz. They cry out, causing those who pass through their gates to cry out as well.
It is no wonder that someone might want to burn the place down… try to destroy the pain. Yet, some pain is vital…
When someone touches a lit stovetop, they should—if wholly healthy and with feeling—know pain. That pain is what tells us to pull our hand back instead of leaving it on the burner to be consumed.
If we do not know the pain of the Holocaust, of places like Auschwitz, then when people are slowly dehumanized, degraded, and eventually slaughtered… how will we to know the signs?
It is the lesson of the pain that teaches not to place one’s hand on the burner again. The same is true for the Holocaust. Some may learn with a word, but some require action. Better the action of visiting Auschwitz than beginning by merely believing a lie, then speaking an unkind word, doing an unkind deed, and maybe, eventually even taking a life… never realizing that the behavior is wrong, and that the people are HUMAN too.
Why does Auschwitz need to remain intact?
31-41% of Americans who believe the Holocaust occurred do not know the true number of Jews who died. Those 31-41% instead believing that 2 million or less died during the three years of mass murder. That is not even double the number that historians estimate to have been slaughtered in Auschwitz!
1.3 million Jews were sent to Auschwitz, and it is probable that at least 1.1 million of that number died there. Almost half of Americans cannot even name a single concentration camp—not even Auschwitz—and with every year, every generation, that percentage grows.
Millennials—those roughly between the ages of 18 and 34—already have the lowest level of education on the Holocaust among adults in the United States, with 66% not even knowing what Auschwitz is! Further still, in Canada and the United States, a shocking 22% of millennials were uncertain if they had even heard of the Holocaust.
Yes, most—96% of Americans—who have heard of the Holocaust believe it occurred, yet, with every year the number of adults who know about the Holocaust, and places such as Auschwitz, lessens. And it is not simply in the United States or Canada. Even the numbers in those countries who were more closely involved, such as France, Germany, and others, are losing ground every year.
These numbers are one of the many reasons we NEED places like Auschwitz to be protected, not to showcase anti-Semitism, but to fight it. Because it is the sights left behind in places like Auschwitz that leave the greatest impact…
The mountain of shoes taken from infants, children, men, and women who were sent to the gas chambers. The piles of glasses. The mounds of hair. All the things taken to use, but more so, to sell to pay for the gas, the guards, the trains. To pay for their Holocaust.
So, to those of us here, let us never forget the millions who died—Jew or otherwise—in the Holocaust. Let us remember the importance of saving Auschwitz—the shoes, the glasses, everything—for future generations, so that the lesson is not lost in the midst of time. Let us support those who suffered and teach those around us—particularly the young—about the Holocaust.
Further still, let us ALL say, “Never Again!” Because no one deserves to be on the receiving end of a Holocaust, and no one should stand idly by when they, or others, are forced into one—on either side.