Holocaust Remembrance Day 2022

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[Content Note: Today’s post deals with some very upsetting topics, specifically the Holocaust, prejudice, and racism. If these topics are things you need to take into consideration for your emotional well-being, definitely give this post a miss, and go check out some of my other stuff instead. We’ll kick it together some other time. Deal? That said, if you decide to move forward with this post, and it brings up some difficult feelings for you, the Crisis Text Line is an option worth looking into, and iasp.info is a good place to start if you’re located outside the U.S.]

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day 2022, also known as Yom HaShoah 2022. This time, roughly 80 years ago, World War II was going on, and the bombing of Pearl Harbor galvanized the U.S. into entering the war. Last year, we talked about ways people on both sides of the political horseshoe will sometimes take what happened to the Jewish communities and other marginalized groups under the Third Reich, weaponize it in order to silence dissenting opinions, and the harm it does to people who’ve lived through this and survived.

This year, we’re gonna talk about bystanders, and how it only takes one in order to make a difference. There’s an old saying that all it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. A post from Time talks about this in relation to the Holocaust, and links to Don’t Be a Bystander.

The Third Reich was a sick, twisted, and brutal regime that specifically penalized dissenters from the party lines of prejudice and racism. This included those who pushed back against these ideas, and as a result, these dissenters were sent to concentration camps and extermination camps.

While it doesn’t excuse the majority who chose the route of becoming silent bystanders, it’s an explanation, sad as it is to even go there.

Some even went so far as to actively lash out in hatred toward Jews, other marginalized groups, recalcitrant citizens doing good for the sake of it, and political dissidents.

For instance, there’s a scene in Schindler’s List that hurts my heart literally every time I’ve seen this movie, and it’s the part where the little kid yells and throws rocks at the people leaving Krakow for the ghetto in Plaszow. This little kid didn’t come up with the idea to do this out of nowhere. No, someone taught this kid, and the real-life counterparts to think this way.

Yes, Schindler’s List is a movie, but this, and worse happened in real life.

However, since the propaganda machine wasn’t above targeting kids, like with the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls, or with kids’ books chock full of stereotypes and stupid illustrations that literally spelled out their ideology out for the little kid reading them, it didn’t surprise me.

I won’t link to examples. I’ll just say that one of them involves a mushroom, and leave it at that.

But, back to the bystanders. There were many who took the easy way out and stepped aside in silence. There were even accounts from people talking about how they’d sing louder in church to drown out the screams coming from the passing trains to the concentration camps or the extermination camps.

Others, however, stepped up to the plate and did the right thing. There were entire groups operating in secret to resist National Socialism, like The White Rose. This was a student resistance group, and Hans and Sophie Scholl were active members.

Some resisters acted in groups, going so far as to develop assassination plots against Hitler. Some acted on their own accord, like Oskar Schindler himself. His original motives, sleazy as they were, focused only on himself, but he soon had a change of heart. As a member of the Abwehr, and a member of the Nazi Party, he used his connections to dodge a whole slew of bullets and keep himself and his workforce one step ahead.

After buying all of those people, and after their relocation to what we now know as the Czech Republic, he duked out the rest of the war by bribing the Powers that Be, in order to keep his workforce safe from harm from the SS guards and the camp commandant.

Schindler and his wife Emilie relocated to Argentina shortly after the war, and after several failed business ventures, they cut their losses and went back home. He got by on donations from the Jews he rescued until he died in 1974.

Yad Vashem invited Schindler to come plant a tree on the Avenue of the Righteous in 1963. Schindler was buried on Mount Zion, and declared Righteous Among the Nations along with Emilie in 1993.

After reading about the people who came from all walks of life to push back against this brutal regime, from former Reichsbank president Hjalmar Schacht, who was implicated in a plot to assassinate Hitler, and was reportedly in contact with resistance groups as far back as 1933, to college kids like Hans and Sophie Scholl, Nazi Party member relatives like Albert Goring, and Nazi Party members like Schindler and Kurt Gerstein, it makes me wonder how the ones who went the bystander route by staying silent and looking the other way reconciled their choices.

In order to keep with tradition, #WeRemember. Last year, I got Asher Yeshayahu Herskovitz as the victim to remember. This year, the algorithm paired me with Iosya Khelemski. According to the records Yad Vashem has on file for him, he was born in 1923 in Kiev, Ukraine, then known as the U.S.S.R prior to its’ dissolution in 1991. Before the war, he was a student, still living in Kiev. He went into the military, and was killed in action. The note on Yad Vashem’s website entry for him states that many Jews serving in the military, more so in the Red Army, were singled out and murdered in captivity as prisoners of war. His exact date of death is unknown.

In loving memory of Iosya Khelemski, 1923-c.1945

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Attributed as an African proverb, however the specific origin is unclear. Working on finding it!







Over to you, readers. How will you be honoring Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah? Have you gone to Yad Vashem’s I Remember page? If so, who’d you get? I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways, so drop ’em like they’re hot below, and let’s talk.

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