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YOM HASHOAH

 
 

RABBI CARLOS TAPIERO, MWU DEPUTY - DIRECTOR GENERAL & DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION

יום השואה והגבורה
 By: Rabbi Carlos Tapiero, Carlos@maccabiworld.org
MWU Deputy - Director General & Director of Education

 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
‏כ"ו ניסן תשע"ב

יום השואה והגבורה

Humanity's greatest crime:
the Holocaust as an infamous unique
historical episode

Dear Friends,

We are just 67 years after the end of the Holocaust, the Shoah - the catastrophe - of our people killed in the fires of the death camps, through slave labor in concentration camps, in ghettos crammed under the most brutal famine, in the massacres committed by the Einsatzgruppen ("action groups", the murderers of the SS and SD) in the Nazi invasion of the Russian front, and in the final "death marches". Our elders remember how the Governments and Nations of the West related to the Holocaust with deep respect, especially during the first 3 decades following the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis and their accomplices in the collaborationist Europe; how veterans of the liberation armies described the shocking images that they witnessed upon their arrival to the death camps. The Shoah used to be a living part of Europe's history, with countless testimonials of those who stopped it, too late; of witnesses who indifferently observed the size of the slaughter; of the survivors, and even of the murderers themselves.

In the last 15 years we have seen a dramatic turn with regard to the West’s consciousness of the Holocaust – even in the most free and tolerant Nations. Terrorist governments such as Iran and Syria deny the existence of the Shoah - and with them, a handful of pseudo-historians. This is, in the eyes of good men and women, nonsense. This new phenomenon we are worried about is different, more massive, and therefore far more disturbing and damaging: the relativization of the Holocaust.

There are many ways to play down the size of the slaughter committed during the Holocaust, which mostly converge in a central direction.  It affirms that "the Holocaust is not unique; humankind had committed massacres against many peoples before the Holocaust, and continued doing so after. There were many Holocausts, many 'Shoahs'. There is nothing special with the tragedy that happened to the Jewish people, harsh as it had been. Any suffering of any people is, in short, their 'Shoah'." Today, the most dramatic, destructive and murderous event ever committed by humankind in history has been degraded by expressions as such.

 It is time to remember ourselves and remind others the fact that the Shoah was, as a whole, a unique event, unprecedented in all of its infamous features. There are many reasons that we argue to prove this fact.  Below are eight of its main horrible components:

1. Murderous ideology of State: the "separation" (euphemism for destruction, according to the results) of a people as a whole (all Jewish civilians, children, adults and the elderly) with no possible escape (as conversion to Christianity was during the Inquisition) was part of the principles of a political party (the Nazi Party), and, moreover, of a State (the German State, the "Third Reich").

2. Genocidal State program: the State implemented consecutive steps of segregation, and then genocide.

3. Technology for achieving the crime: State bureaucrats and scientists evaluated and used all technology of their time to achieve a total Jewish extermination.

4. Factories of Death: the State financially calculated what was the fastest, most efficient and inexpensive way to exterminate a people, and developed a specific program to implement it (the death camps - the "death factories" - with Zyklon B, gas chambers, crematoria).

5. Dehumanization to legitimize the crime: the State created a systematic program of dehumanization disseminated nationally and internationally where a people (the Jews) were reduced by an ideology (Nazi ideology) to a “sub-human” classification, which "legitimized" the crime ("to protect the Arian race from being corrupted by a sub-human creature”).

6. Enslavement and destruction of personality: the State designed a program to destroy human will, where Jewish victims were stripped of their most basic elements (clothing, hair, & food) and put them to work in the most inhumane conditions.

7. "Cosmic" war vs. military accomplishments: the State was led by its obsessive ideology of completely murdering the Jewish people, jeopardizing and undermining the very front line of war in order to continue with the genocide against Jewish civilians.

8. Genocide of horrific dimensions: finally, the overwhelming majority of the Jewish people were killed in Continental Europe - six million civilians, reducing the global population of the Jewish people to 2/3 of what they were before the Holocaust.

It is our duty as members of a people who have been systematically persecuted for 17 centuries, to report and combat abuse, persecution, murder and genocide wherever they occur ... but separating them from the tragedy of the Shoah, which transcends in its dimensions all the other crimes. It is our duty to the Shoah victims, as survivors of those who wanted to destroy the entire Jewish people wherever they could be, to honor the memory of the 6,000,000 of our brothers and sisters killed in the Holocaust; to remember and remind others about the unique character of its infamous murder, which made it the most brutal, inhumane, horrible and criminal chapter in the history of a humankind which denied its most basic beliefs - the moral foundations that Judaism bequeathed to the West. We should distinguish the Holocaust from all other calamities, because, No... not all suffering is Shoah - and thank God that this is the case. Nothing more vile, wicked, depraved, despicable and criminal than the Shoah, which must never be repeated in any of its evil expressions.

It is our duty, to continue to grow and develop as a people in the Jewish communities to which we belong, and, above all, in this State of Israel which brought us back our national dimension when we needed it the most - setting itself up with its redemptive life from the ashes of the slaughter. It is our duty and our strongest way to honor the Jewish life maintained by the victims of our people; our only posthumous victory against those who proclaimed the end of the Jewish people at the end of the Shoah.

 May God grant that we shall be worthy successors of the message of life and action bequeathed to us by the murdered victims and the survivors, multiplying Jewish life everywhere through our decisive action in all the Jewish communities in the world, and in our magnificent center, the State of Israel.

 And during this Yom HaShoah, may God grant that we shall remember the extraordinary content, flowering creativity and productivity of the individual lives and Jewish communities so brutally uprooted.

 May we always remember, bless, honor and

perpetuate by our deeds the lives of the Six Million,

for we are their Living Memorial.

 Chazak ve'Ematz!

 Rabbi Carlos A. Tapiero

Deputy Director-General & Director of Education

Maccabi World Union

 
 
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