Remembering the Voiceless
The Holocaust was a tragic event in human history that showed the capacity of humankind when put under the fires of hatred. The Holocaust (German for burning) killed millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, disabled, and communists. While we cannot erase what history has written, we can continue to write words of hope and remembrance for the next generation.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is on Monday, January 27<span>th</span>. This day was created by the United Nations on November 1, 2005 during a plenary session. The United Nation members chose this to be the annual day of remembrance because on January 27<span>th</span>, 1945 the largest concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by Soviet Union troops.
Abraham Bomba was a barber living in Poland and during Nazi rule, him and his family was deported in 1942 to the Treblinka concentration camp. When arriving, he was immediately assigned to shave the hair of women about to enter the gas chamber.
He recalls, “Most painful was because some of the barbers, they recognized their dear ones, like wives, mothers, even grandmothers. Can you imagine that you have to cut their hair and not to tell them a word because you were not allowed? If you say a word that they going to...uh...be gassed in five or seven minutes later, there would be a panic over there and they would be killed too” (US Holocaust Memorial Museum).
Bomba was blessed to survive this horrible nightmare, and became a spokesperson for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to encourage the next generation to enact change on growing issues with racism and inequality, so that an event as tragic as the Holocaust is not repeated.
I find myself constantly reading the memoirs of people affected by the Holocaust. Not to be depressed, but moreover, their urgency to promote world peace is inspiring. My favorite story is told by Corrie Ten Boom and it truly represents the power of forgiveness.
Corrie ten Boom, though she was not Jewish, was placed into a notorious concentration camp for helping hide Jewish families in the confines of her home. During her time at the camp, she was beaten severely by guards.
Post liberation, ten Boom began traveling around Europe to share her story and morals of forgiveness, compassion, and love. She was speaking to a crowd in Germany in 1947 about the power of forgiveness and the blessings that it brought, when suddenly; she looks in the crowd and sees the man who beat her worst at the camp.
The man confronted her after she finished the lecture, and mentioned how he was once a guard at Ravensburg. Oh, how she knew that piece of information. After spending time to dwell on the forgiveness that God gave him after he left the Nazi party, he then asked Corrie ten Boom for forgiveness, holding out his hand.
The last lines of the story are what brings together different cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds to one day harmonize. ““And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
“ ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’
“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then” (The Hiding Place, Boom).
While the stories of the Holocaust are heartbreaking, it is important to observe and remember. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum believes that the key to assuring that the Holocaust will never occur again is through “confronting unchecked hate, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.” There will be a day where there will be no more tears, no more hatred, no more genocide, and that day will only come by the preservation of human dignity and the powerful memories that the Holocaust creates.