Yom HaShoah… what shall I say? A lot has been written, a lot has been staged, many movies were filmed. But where exactly are we now? What did these documents do to us or the non-Jewish people surrounding us? What can be said today, and how? For me, it always seemed that words are not sufficient to describe what has happened 70 years ago to my grandparents. Yes, I’m part of the third generation of the Holocaust on both sides.
Thinking about Yom HaShoah the first thing that comes into my mind every year is that different from the world’s common Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27th, the date of the liberation of Auschwitz, Yom HaShoah is dated on Nisan 27th. The date marks a significant difference in understanding of the Holocaust between Jews and Non-Jews around the world. We, the Jews, celebrate the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto which took place on April 19, 1943. Although almost all the Jewish inhabitants of the Ghetto weren’t rescued during the uprising and many lives were lost, we still worship those who stood up against their oppressors even when they knew that they had no chance in winning the fight. But, we Jews are still alive…so, what can we learn about Yom HaShoah?
Only recently it was discovered that the allies knew way before about the fate of the Jewish people. Many lives could have been saved, but they did not. January 27th celebrates the Jewish people’s dependence on those allies who liberated Auschwitz. It shows the world, but even more to us that we are to be saved. Yom HaShoah has a different sort of understanding. Even though the Jewish people did not have a chance they stood up to defend their Jewish fate. They did not wait until their saviors come to save them. A thought that might be spread throughout the non-Jewish Remembrance Day.
So… how about nowadays? As a Jewish student growing up with Germany I realize that many non-Jewish people are fed up with what happened in that country 70 years ago. The survivors are diminishing and the representatives for the Holocaust are now mostly TV series and movies. Our world is changing fast, but while let’s say German students do not identify with their grandparents anymore, I still identify with the victim’s side. I cannot forget what has happened 70 years ago, also because of so many family members that are missing and a world I only know from my grandparents’ stories. Nevertheless, Yom Hashoah leads also to a different sort of thinking which we should keep in mind as we reflect on it. It shows us that, if we care, we do not have to be victims. We are always in the position to fight for our rights, our religion and our freedom, even if it might seem to fail, it is a spirit that is to be inherited and looked upon many years later. By looking back we are able to look at our future, shaping it for further generations to come.
Carolin Heymann is a 24 year old student of theatre, film and media studies at Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main. In her free time she enjoys the theatre and connecting with the Jewish community in Germany. She is incredibly interested in the study of the Shoah and her latest paper was written on the comic “Maus” by Art Spiegelman.
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