Why Should We Remember the Holocaust?

by Kari Blaylock

This Holocaust Remembrance Day, known as Yom HaShoah, comes 75 years after the end of the Holocaust. Like so many important moments this year, April 20-21 will be remembered in isolation.

How We Remember
In past years, people from around the world commemorate Yom HaShoah in different ways.

Some choose to visit one of the many Holocaust museums throughout the world, especially Yad Vashem in Israel. Many survivors and relatives of survivors make pilgrimages to concentration camps, in particular Auschwitz, as Yom HaShoah is observed on the day the camp was liberated.

The March for the Living

There is also a massive educational event called The March for the Living which brings students from all over the world to Poland to learn and honor the 6 million victims. On the day, thousands of people march in silence from Auschwitz to Birkenau.

Why This Year Matters More
This year however, because of the health concern, people will not be able to gather and visit these places. For some Holocaust survivors, this may be their last chance to make these trips. So how do we still educate, experience, and honor this important time?

Fortunately, there are many ways, and everyone can participate in some way. One way could simply be to talk about it with your children. I have done this in stages with my own daughter who is 11, and she learns and understands more each year.

Watch Together
This year on Passover we watched a documentary about Jewish American soldiers during World War II which showed her footage from a concentration camp for the first time. There are many documentaries, movies, interviews and testimonials from survivors that are readily available.

Many ceremonies will be available online. Yad Vashem’s prerecorded ceremony will include short films about six survivors who normally light torches at the memorial in Jerusalem.

Read Together
Another option is to read a book. There are so many, and they cover a wide range of topics. You can read a first-hand account or learn about the events that lead to and allowed the Holocaust to happen.

One of the most powerful books I read was called Neighbors by Jan Gross. It pieces together evidence including eyewitness accounts to show how, in one day, citizens of a small town in Poland turned against their neighbors and murdered 1,600 Jews.

Learn Together
This was so significant because these Jews were not murdered by faceless Nazi’s, they were murdered by people they had known their entire lives. I bring this up because it illustrates why it is so achingly crucial to learn about the past, because it informs our present and future.

What I am asking is difficult, especially when things feel so difficult already. I was passionate about reading everything I could about World War II and the Holocaust until I had children and it affected me in a way it never had before.

Together: We Will Never Forget
Learning about the Holocaust is devastating, but it is when things affect us deeply that we act. That is what Holocaust Remembrance Day is about, never forgetting. We teach, and feel, and talk about, and learn about so that we remember that life is sacred. All life.

During this time it feels even more important to show respect for other human beings when people so readily want someone to blame. So I ask you, do something this year to learn about the Holocaust and teach others what you know. Let us remember so that when we say, “never again,” we truly understand what that means, and how we will prevent it from happening again.