A Reflection on Holocaust Remembrance Day
Hi all! Today marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp known as Auschwitz by the Russian Red Army. I feel this is too important a topic not to discuss in depth, as the memories of the Holocaust are in danger of being forever lost to time. Today marks Hell revisited.
The liberation took place on January 27th, 1945. 10 days earlier 60,000 prisioners were forced to march on foot in what became known as a Death March. 15,000 people died in that march alone. 7,000 people were left in the camp, most of whom deathly ill. The Nazis had already left the camp after attempting to destroy evidence of their crimes. The Russians that liberated the camp were shocked at what they saw, describing the prisioners as “living skeletons.” The Red Army and the Polish Red Cross worked together to try and help as many of the prisioners as they could. There were also efforts to document what was found at the camp.
The numbers that were calculated thru the next decades defied comprehension. When the camp was running at full capacity in 1943, 6,000 Jews were being murdered daily in the gas chambers. As many as 865,000 Jews were immediately murdered on arrival at the camp, mostly in the gas chambers. To gauge the horrific scale of the Nazi attrocities, Polish scholar Franciszek Piper pieced together the following table from historical records:
|Ethnic Poles||64,000||10,000||74,000 (70,000–75,000)|
|Roma and Sinti||19,000||2,000||21,000|
|Soviet prisoners of war||12,000||3,000||15,000|
Soviet citizens (Byelorussians, Russians, Ukrainians),
Czechs, Yugoslavs, French, Germans, Austrians
|Total deaths in Auschwitz, 1940–1945||200,000–205,000||880,000||1,080,000–1,085,000|
The Holocaust in total claimed the lives of 6 million Jews and 5 million other “undesirables” under the Nazi regime. According to more recent estimates, the death toll could be as high as 20 million. And of course it isn’t just about the numbers; every death was a human being. A human being with hopes, dreams, fears, and loved ones. A human being with a story to tell, a story that was tragically cut short in one of the biggest tragedies in man’s history.
I think that every believer in God must confront the question of the Holocaust at some point in their faith journey. Where was God in all this? Why did He allow this to happen? How could we as a human race let this happen? These are all questions that must be grappled with to attain a true and deeper faith. It is the true test of the believer; either your faith in God will be strengthened to the point where nothing can break it or it crumbles completely in the very real face of something so evil. I would love to tell you I have all the answers, dear reader. All I can tell you is that God was certainly not silent, as many Holocaust survivors can attest to. Hell revisited wasn’t in vain.
How we as believers respond to the Holocaust is also an important question. Anti-Semitism is on the rise globally and education on the Holocaust is dwindling, especially among the young. Recent surveys revealed that 66% of millenials do not know what Aushwitz is or what purpose it served. In my view if the memory of the Holocaust disappears, it would be akin to murdering all those people all over again. A Holocaust of memories, so to speak. Hell revisited for nothing.
My dear reader, we CANNOT let this happen. We have to make a choice. One way or the other.
I conclude this piece with some words of wisdom from the great Rod Serling, from the Twilight Zone episode “Death’s Head revisited”:
“There is an answer to the doctor’s question. All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes – all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to dwell on and to remember, not only in the Twilight Zone but wherever men walk God’s Earth.”
I have linked a few sources of info at the following:
Never forget. Never again.