Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Who Will Remember?

It is Holocaust Remembrance Day today. As I see the old survivors speaking at ceremonies and in documentaries, I can't help but think that in a few years there will be no more holocaust survivors. Who will act as witnesses at ceremonies and public discussions? As the people who remember the horrible experiences fade away, will the "public memory" fade as well?

We will never forget the holocaust, but it may become something more of a historical fact than an actual scar on humanity. Young Germans, Austrians, Poles and others already see it as distant history rather than something that has anything to do with them. I can't blame them. They aren't responsible for what their parents and grandparents did.

On the other hand, for most young Jews (at least in Israel), the holocaust is still a part of life. It isn't something that's always present, like an obsession, but it is part of their background. Our parents' and grandparents' lives were changed by it. We know survivors, we know people who have lost relatives. Unlike those who only hear tales of survival through documentaries, we have heard thousands of stories from people near and dear to us - an aunt who survived the camps, a neighbor raised by nuns until his mother could return to take him, those who fled in time but lost entire families, and many more. So we remember, but will our children? Will the next generations be interested in the stories retold by those who did not experience them?

But maybe we've already forgotten one of the most important lessons of the holocaust. The eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 of Nisan, according to the Jewish calendar) coincides this year with Genocide Remembrance Day in Armenia (March 24). I find it symbolic: we should remember that genocide is global. The Holocaust was not the first attempt at ethnic cleansing, nor was it the last. It is happening right now in Darfur. Unfortunately, just like in the 1940's, nobody cares. Nobody will do a thing against it, including Israel.

President Moshe Katzav and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert used the memorial ceremony to warn the world against Iran's dreams of nuclear genocide. They should have called for intervention in Sudan.

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  1. It is indeed scandalous how Sudan was dropped from the news agenda, even though the genocide continued. No one in the media seems to care all that much for Africa, particuarly now that they have their sexy war in the middle-east. I can feel the British media longing for something to happen with Iran - something dramatic and terrifying and monumental - but no one wants to turn to the difficulty of ending the harrow and misery of Sudan. Man it angers me!

  2. Please do not underestimate how strongly European feelings about the Holocaust still are. Young people here are very well eductated on this subject. More and more information is also becoming available. We will not forget, trust me on that.

    Your closing line was very magnanimous. I tip my hat.