Thursday, May 05, 2005

Never Forget

Today is special for three reasons. First, it's the National Day of Prayer, second, it's Cinco de Mayo, and third, today marks Holocaust Remembrance Day.
My simple prayer today is that those in authority throughout Canada, the US, and Mexico never forget the horrors of the Holocaust. Psalm 122:6 urges us to "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." In honor of this remembrance, I'd like to share this article by Elwood McQuaid of Friends of Israel:

When Forgetting is Unforgivable

Nearly half of the
adults in Great Britain claim they have never heard of Auschwitz.

was the shocking result of a BBC audience research survey related to a new TV
series produced to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz
death camp.

“We were amazed by the results of our audience research,”
said series producer Laurence Rees. “It’s easy to presume that the horrors of
Auschwitz are engrained in the nation’s collective memory, but obviously this is
not the case.”

The survey found that almost half of Britain’s adults (45
percent) claim they never even heard of Auschwitz. Among people under 35, the
figure soared to 60 percent. And among those who had heard of the infamous
concentration camp, 70 percent said they did not know much about it.

revealing corollary surfaced in another survey by the History Channel, which
asked 1,000 Britons to name the most significant events in world history.
Twenty-two percent named the day Princess Diana died. Only 8 percent opted for
the end of World War II, and 12 percent cited England’s World Cup soccer victory
in 1966.

Of all the killing stations Adolf Hitler established to
facilitate his “final solution to the Jewish problem,” Auschwitz, in Poland, was
the most notorious. It is estimated that 1 million to 3 million people, about 90
percent of them Jewish, were exterminated there.

Among the most poignant
cries still echoing from this dungeon of death are the letters of the children.
Before little Liliane Gerenstein was killed, she wrote to God:

God? How
good you are, how kind and if one had to count the number of goodnesses
kindnesses ou have done, one would never finish. . . . God? It is thanks to You
I had a beautiful life before, that I was spoiled, that I had lovely
things that others do not have. God? After that, I ask you on think only: Make
my parents come back, my poor
parents protect them (even more than you
protect me) so that I can see them again as
soon as possible.

April 6, 1944, the Nazis seized Liliane Gerenstein and others; threw the crying,
terrified children onto trucks bound for Auschwitz; and there killed them all.

“The name Auschwitz is quite rightly a byword for horror,” Laurence Rees
stated. “But the problem with thinking about horror is that we naturally turn
away from it. Our series is not only about the shocking, almost unimaginable
pain of those who died, or survived, Auschwitz. It’s about how the Nazis came to
do what they did.”

On January 27, 1945, Russian troops liberated
Auschwitz, but not before the Nazis attempted to kill or deport any who might be
left to tell the dreadful story of their suffering.

How can people
barely a generation away from the events of World War II choose to know so
little? Yes, choose, because their ignorance is a choice.

It is the
choice of the educational system on both sides of the Atlantic. The West buries
the grim realities of historical atrocities beneath a gloss of contemporary
superficiality. Our obsession to pursue pleasure and venerate pop culture icons,
such as Princess Diana, rock stars, Hollywood luminaries, and sports idols, have
clouded our thinking—especially when it relates to lessons from the past that
should not be forgotten. Unfortunately, many do not want to remember and thus
are condemned to experience reruns of the horrific.

Both the Old and New
Testaments solemnly warn about the consequences of failing to communicate
history’s lessons to the next generation. These biblical injunctions are not the
mutilations of revisionist docudrama. They are fact.

The era of Hitler,
the Holocaust, and the extermination of millions of innocent Jewish people and
others is an extremely obvious example of why we must teach the truth. That 45
percent of a nation’s population can say it never heard of Auschwitz is a
dreadful commentary on how far we have fallen.

Fortunately, there are
those who do remember and burn with a desire to enshrine in the minds and hearts
of people living today the memory of those who failed to survive. Tears still
well up in the eyes of those who languished in the squalor of the camps and
watched as friends, loved ones, and neighbors wasted away or were fed to the
ovens. The desire for truth is heard in the voices of veterans, now dying at the
rate of thousands a day, who urge us to keep alive the memory of what they saw
in 1945.
To forget is unforgivable. Sixty, or perhaps only six, years from
now, how many Americans will say they never heard of September 11, 2001?

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