“THOSE WHO FAIL TO LEARN FROM HISTORY ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT.”
Winston Churchill to the House of Commons, 1948
This famous quote is one to strongly consider as we think about our nation and the world today. We thought we had conquered most of the world’s diseases, then the Coronavirus moved around the world.
We thought we had crossed through the problems of discrimination after the tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther, Jr…then came more deaths for many people of all colors. We are faced with problems today that could be disastrous for us all. There are those who simply want their voices heard, justice done and then there are the anarchists among us who want to destroy peace and accomplishments of many. What we thought had been attained through new laws of the land against racism and civil rights for all can be destroyed within an instance if lawlessness is allowed to continue. We ask ourselves, “What is next and what has happened to the democratic way of life? Where is law and order?”
There are forces at work to disrupt anything peaceful. Some are outsiders, who mean no good will. These forces will take advantage of every tragic event to move our civilization toward something even more tragic. What would that be is not fully known, but the loss of lawfulness, the democratic way and the sanctity of all men and women could be only a starter.
What exactly is “sanctity?” It has to do with being sacred or morally upright and correct.” Is nothing sacred anymore? Does the hard work of people building businesses, which support our communities…for all races…make it right to “smash…grab…and run”… while laughing about it?!
The values that were taught in most families…about stealing or destroying seems to mean nothing to many who have been given so much by the previous generation? There were marches in Selma; men and women of all colors who went off to war to fight for world freedom. Do they understand the sacrifices of history? If not, do we blame ourselves for not teaching it more in schools or in the home? Will these young adults who believe they are changing the world teach their own children the meaning of sacrifice and sanctity? Do they “care less” when it comes to destroying and looting?
Yes, there are voices that need to be heard, but all people, through our Constitution and laws, have been given a right to freedom of speech when voicing complaints…and should and can be heard without destroying the center of their own universe. (“…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress…”) There is no right given to plunder, steal or take the property of another.
We have also seen how situations can turn from bad to worse when people are singled out because of who they are…minorities…police…the calling of disparaging names because of one’s belief on a particular subject. The victims of violence should be able to mourn their dead. The victim’s memories should be honored, not exploited.
While government officials argue about what to do in this crisis, the “rape” of hard-working American men and women’s businesses goes on…destroying the lives of many.
Do not forget history. It teaches us everything…to do and not to do. It tells us how fragile governments can be when those who believe their ideas are the only ideas, regardless of who they hurt, begs the possibility of raising up leaders to push the world into a brink of despair and even war. We have seen it in our best teacher…HISTORY.
Let’s take a look back.
There were good people in Germany before World War II who saw that the path on which their country was heading would lead Germany and other countries into chaos. Even within the high-ranking military and Christian churches, there were dissidents who stood against Hitler. There were actually six attempts to do away with Hitler, but each failed.
1944 Plot: …”At the center of this plot was Claus von Stauffenberg, a dashing colonel who had lost an eye and one of his hands during combat in North Africa. He and his co-conspirators—who included Tresckow, Friedrich Olbricht and Ludwig Beck—planned to kill the Führer with a hidden bomb concealed in a briefcase and then use the German Reserve Army to topple the Nazi high command. If their coup was successful, the rebels would then immediately seek a negotiated peace with the Allies. ( Full story of 6 plots History.com)
When the bomb exploded, more than 20 people were injured and three officers were killed, but Hitler escaped one more time. Because of this attempt, more than 7,000 people were arrested and 4,980 people were executed by the Gestapo.” (History Collection)
Anarchy is raising an ugly head in today’s modern world. The very word, from the Latin word, anarchia, and the Greek, anarchos, has the meaning of “no rule.” (Wikipedia)
We, as a nation of people, have a choice to stand for what is right and honorable…or loss control. Don’t forget “Kristallnacht” (The Night of Broken Glass) when storefronts belonging to the Jews were shattered. Glass littered the streets and vandalism occurred. Sound familiar?
I leave you with a compelling life of a survivor of one of history’s darkest hours. At first it began slowly and then the blaming of an entire group of people began. The innocent were accused…and the rest is “history.” We pray that this part of our present day history will not be another dark hour.
- Born in 1928 in Berlin. Hannah’s father was Head of the Prussian Press Bureau and adviser to the Minister of Interior of Brandenburg, Germany. In 1933, with the rise of the Nazis to power, Hannah’s family fled to Amsterdam.
- There, at school, Hannah met Anna Frank, also a refugee from Germany.
- In October 1942, while giving birth, both the baby and Hannah’s mother died.
- On June 20, 1943, Hannah, her younger sister, Gabi, her father and grandparents were sent to the Westerbork transit camp.
- Hannah and Gabi were separated from their father and sent to the orphanage in the camp. There, she worked cleaning the toilets
- In 1944, Hannah, her father and sister were transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she had to do forced labor.
- When she was told that Anna Frank was also imprisoned there she managed to establish contact with her and even tried to give her a package of food and clothing, which someone else stole.
- Hanna’s Father and Grandparents were murdered in Bergen-Belsen.
- On April 11, 1945, the camp inmates were evacuated. Hannah had contracted typhus.
- In June, the Soviets handed Hannah and her sister to the Americans and they were returned to Amsterdam.
- Hannah went to Israel in 1947 and lived in Kfar Hasidim. She worked as a nurse in a pediatric ward at the ‘Bikkur Holim’ Hospital in Jerusalem. (from Yad Vashem)
In Hannah’s own words:
Video Turn up your sound.
One of my readers sent me an email explaining how he had made a trip to Auschwitz in Poland to find the memory of a particular child who perished there. Having traveled as a teacher with American students to Auschwitz, I understood and remembered the locations where I also walked and saw the horrors of an “orchestrated nightmare” that took place in World War II.
The email that I received from Ralph Davis is in part the following:
Many scholars of the Holocaust have come to believe that when a Holocaust survivor tells a story that sounds too incredible to be true, it may be just that: the truth. Such is the story of Lili Zelmanovic (Lili Jacob Meier) and her photo album.
18-year-old Lili Jacob was deported with her family, and most of the Jews of Hungary, in the spring of 1944. On the ramp at Auschwitz, she was brutally separated from her parents and younger brothers. She never saw any of them again. She was lucky and survived; yet, she was not always convinced of the blessing of having survived totally alone, bereft of family, friends and her world.
Unlike all of the other survivors, she was granted a small miracle. On the day of her liberation, in the Dora concentration camp hundreds of miles from Auschwitz, she found in the deserted SS barracks a photo album. It contained, among others, pictures of her family and friends as they arrived on the ramp and unknowingly awaited their death. It was a unique tie to what once had been, could never return, and could never be rebuilt.
It was also, as we now know, the only photographic evidence of Jews arriving in Auschwitz or any other death camp. After the war, Lili found and married Max Zelmanovic, a prewar acquaintance. Selling glass-plate prints of the album to the Jewish Museum in Prague enabled the couple and their first-born daughter, Esther, to immigrate to the United States. They settled in Miami and raised a family, yet the album continued to be central to their lives.
Survivors spread the word of a unique album in the possession of a waitress in Miami, and they made their way across the country to seek her out, and to hope against hope that their lost family, like hers, might be engraved on its prints. Not a week would go by but Lili would bring home strangers who were not strangers, and they would pour over the pictures and weep. Rarely, someone would identify a family member, and Lili would give them the snapshot. Since most of the Jews had been murdered, leaving no living trace, most of the photos remained unclaimed.
In 1980 Serge Klarsfeld convinced Lilly (pictured below) that the album should be safeguarded at Yad Vashem. She came to Jerusalem, showed it to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and donated it to Yad Vashem, where it resides to this day and is treasured for the future.
On December 17, 1999, Lilly Zelmanovic passed away. (from Yad Vashem)
I too, like Dave, believe that it is imperative that we continue to share the story of those who died in the concentration camps because at some point there will not be any living survivors to tell their stories. If we do not teach our future generations the truth, it could easily happen again. Thank you, Dave.
The video shared below is long, but worth the watch. Take your time and listen and view parts at a time if it is more convenient. It speaks for itself and it is my prayer that many around the world will make the effort to listen to it….and never forget!
If the video should ask for a password, type DaveDavis
Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time to remember and proclaim “NEVER AGAIN.”
Having just posted about the horrors of Syria, which may be another Holocaust if a solution is not found to bring peace to the area, it is fitting to think about World War II and all those who perished under the Nazi dictator, Hitler. It is estimated that over six million men, women and children died in the death camps. Memorials can be found around the world. One special one is the children’s memorial, Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem. The day my husband and I visited this memorial, there were little lights on the ceiling and the name of each child was read aloud continuously.
It doesn’t seem like any time since I took Student Ambassadors to Poland and we visited Auschwitz, one of the death camps. None of us will ever be the same. I, as a Christian, walked beside a young Jewish student who laid flowers at the very wall where so many were executed. I noticed that he wore his shorts but respectfully put on a tie and sports jacket as he approached the wall.
As we traveled, this same young man also wanted to find the apartment building where the Israeli Olympic team had been murdered by terrorists. We looked and looked; finally finding a small plaque outside an apartment building to remember the event. Given the gravity of this terrible tragedy, it seemed far too small.
Our student group spent time looking at the ovens where the bodies were burned. One amazing fact was that the home of the military commander and his family was right next to the grounds of Auschwitz. We saw the place where he was executed after the war by hanging. Eye glasses, shoes and suitcases were piled high in glass cases. One could see the torture chambers where a cross was scratched into the wall…indicating that not only Jews were interned there, but political prisoners and Christians.
Steven Spielberg has made it his mission to record the lives of survivors so that future generations will understand what hatred, prejudice and war can do to people. Once the people who fought WWII and the Holocaust survivors have died, their voices will be silenced forever….except for these recordings. Just as our World War II veterans are passing away by the hundreds each day, so are the survivors of the Holocaust.
It was my privilege to have the veterans and survivors come to my classroom of 5th graders and talk to each one of the students about their experiences. Because each person’s story was different, the students took notes that they wrote us and presented orally to the class the following day. Those students are adults now. Many have finished college and have families of their own. I pray that they have not forgotten that experience and are passing along what the Holocaust was and why we can never let this happen again.
After returning from that trip, I felt that the students in our Florida county needed to know as much about the Holocaust as possible. With financial help from the community and parents of students, we raised enough funds to place in every school library tapes, books and age-appropriate material about the Holocaust.
I read about a grave-digger who was told to bury all the Jews in the woods. These were those shot on a death march. Instead, he buried them in St. Anna’s Roman Catholic Church in Swierklany, Poland. This is only after he had carefully copied all the numbers from each victim’s arm. Some seventy years later and with research from Yad Vashem in Israel, some relatives now know that Christians carefully buried the bodies of their loved ones. A new memorial has been erected with a cross. The new plaque at the previously unmarked grave in Swierlany, Poland now reads:
“In memory of the death march victims from Auschwitz-Birkenau”
and lists the victims’ concentration camp numbers or names. The caring of one grave digging man, who believed differently from those he buried, made all the difference over 70 years later to a family who simply wanted to know what had happened to their loved one.
Today on Holocaust Remembrance Day, as the sirens wail, in some places people will stop in the streets and cars will stop on the highways …wherever they are…to remember again. We too must never forget!
It is not our purpose here to try to re-create the horrors that went on here. Probably the closest to that would be to watch Schindler’s List, produced by Spielberg, about a Christian businessman, Oskar Schindler, who saved many Jews by taking them to work in his factory.
Oskar Schindler (28 April 1908 – 9 October 1974) was a German industrialist and a member of the Nazi Party who is credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories in occupied Poland and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. (Wikipedia)
VIDEO: This music is played in honor of John Williams and his contribution to the telling of this story of the Holocaust and the saving of many lives. (Turn up sound)
The Music from Schindler’s List, written by John Williams.