We remember and ask
We remember! We remember that on January 27, 1944, soldiers of the Red Army reached the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp and liberated it. They encountered Dante’s inferno on earth. We honour the 6 million murdered Jewish children, women and men. On today’s International Day of Remembrance we commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, but not only on this day. We remember because we cannot and do not want to forget. It happened and it was allowed to happen.
The hatred of Jews remained a reality after the Shoah. The silent majority of Germans today disregard that Jews cannot be safe. Where is their interest, empathy, and commitment? Or just compassion?
On the day of remembrance, it should not be forgotten how it happened. Therefore we ask: Wasn’t it the case that back then, before and during the terrible time of the crime, that the absolute majority of the German population, the “Volksgemeinschaft”, had nothing to object to the big national project “Germany without Jews” and, with notable exceptions which are not valued highly enough, didn’t do anything against the genocide, that lasted over six years?
Wasn’t it also the case that the Germans, unlike the Italians or the French, not only didn’t free themselves from Nazism and antisemitism, but had to be defeated by the armies of the anti-Hitler coalition, a fact that the overwhelming majority of Germans perceived as defeat?
Wasn’t it still the case that the German population was not exchanged after May 8, 1945, but logically remained the same, and in the following years the socialisation of their descendants took place at their kitchen tables?
And wasn’t it finally also the case, that the half a million German Jews from before 1933, with notable exceptions, were not missed by the Germans after mass murder and after 1949 neither in West nor East Germany was there a call to the Jewish people who had survived : “Dear people, we are very sorry for what happened, please forgive us, we miss you, please come back and live with us again?”
Today, decades later, the subject of this missed request no longer exists. Soon the last survivors of the genocide will follow the path of everything mortal. And then all what remains is memory, passive remembrance and active commemoration.
If, as announced by German officials on Holocaust Remembrance Day, today’s Jewish life is “a gift” for Germany that must be unconditionally “protected”, then the words should be followed by deeds: Promote Jewish life! There should be no need to beg for assistance for religious, cultural and social work, all Jewish cemeteries should be preserved and maintained, all Jewish institutions should be effectively protected, all antisemitic acts should be prosecuted and punished.
We remain with the lesson from the fight with Amalek: Sachor – lo Tischkach. Remember, Do not forget!