Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. — Santayana
Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Here in Israel, the sirens will sound at precisely 10am. Every car, truck, bus and taxi cab will pull to a stop. Every worker will lay down his tools. Every classroom will fall silent. Every Jewish Israeli, regardless of what he or she is doing, will stand at attention, listen to the wail of the sirens, and remember those who were ruthless sent to the gas chamber, simply because they were Jews.
How will you remember the Holocaust today? How will you teach your children about the most horrific attempt to exterminate a single people group in the history of mankind?
- To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil, is to risk being blindsided by it.
- Evil, unchecked, is the prelude to genocide.
I encourage you to make time today to remember the six million Jews — including 1.5 million children — were systematically murdered by Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Read the stories below. Share them on social media. Visit a Holocaust Museum. Watch Schindler’s List or one of the other great films about what happened. Read Elie Wiesel’s Night. Better yet, find a survivor — or the son or daughter of a survivor — and ask them to share their story with you and your family.
Let us honor their memories, and pledge ourselves never to forget them. In so doing, let us pledge to never allow such evil to happen again.
This is not just a time for Jews to remember, or the world to remember the Jews. This is a day for all of mankind to take a decisive stand against evil and against genocide in our time. This is especially critical in the face of the continuing Iranian nuclear threat and the apocalyptic regime in Tehran’s repeated vows to annihilate the U.S. and the State of Israel. It is also critical in the light of the genocidal rampage against Muslims, Christians and Yazidis that the apocalyptic leaders of the Islamic State are engaged.
My hope and prayer this year is that in addition to remembering those who died in the “Shoah” (the Holocaust), we will also remember those who lived — especially four extraordinary heroes who actually escaped from Auschwitz in the spring of 1944 not only to save their own lives but to tell the world the truth about what the Nazis were doing.
I first learned about these men and their extraordinary courage and selflessness upon visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland in 2011. Their stories intrigued me. Indeed, they inspired me to write the novel, The Auschwitz Escape.
Their names are:
- Rudolf Vrba
- Alfred Wetzler
- Arnost Rosin
- Czeslaw Mordowicz
In 2014, I wrote a column specifically sketching out their dramatic saga, based on the research I did for the book, including meeting with some of the world’s leading Holocaust scholars at Yad Vashem here in Israel. I hope you’ll take a moment to read the whole column, and then share it with others.
They are worth remembering. They are worth emulating. Indeed, as darkness falls once again in the epicenter and around the world, may their tribe increase.
- Here’s my written and video report from Auschwitz-Birkenau in December 2011.
- The Auschwitz Escape — audio edition
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