Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Holocaust--We Can't Forget

Weeks ago my wife and I wandered around Paris near Notre Dame until we found it: the Holocaust Museum. 

It tells the story of the 76,000 French Jews that were deported from their homes and all their possessions to concentration camps by the Nazis from 1942 to 1944. 

This museum has this tremendous wall where the names of all 76,000 are inscribed. When you see that sea of names you begin to realize all over again the horror and the evil that human beings can do to one another. 

The holy place is called The Museum of Shoah--which means a Museum of catastrophe. It is really a Hebrew word that seeks to remind the world of some of the darkest pages in human history.

Today has been designated as Holocaust Remembrance Day. So once a year--despite our schedules and our busyness--we should ponder the sorrow and pathos of those terrible years in Germany and other European countries. From 1941 to 1945 the Nazis systematically murdered over six million people. The Holocaust Museum is a quiet place--few words are spoken. And those that are mostly come as whispers. 

The pictures of the children were the most heart-wrenching to me.There are three thousand pictures of some of those deported from France never to return. It took a lot of people to exterminate six million human beings. It has been estimated that there were at least 200,000 perpetrators that carried out these crimes against humanity.

Why should we remember this dark dark time in our history? We need to come face to face with the depths of evil that can be perpetrated on one another.

This political season has brought out some of the worst in the American people. Hatred against Muslims, immigrants from many countries--refugees from Syria that had fled their country for their lives--not to speak of the racism that swirls just beneath the surface in every state in our Union. Who would have thought that our nation would be where we are in 2016.

William Sloane Coffin once said, "We belong to one another. That's the way God made us. Christ died to keep us that way. Our sin is only and always that we put asunder what God has joined together."  

I keep remembering that quote from Elie Wiesel, himself lucky enough too escape the Holocaust. Every member of his family were murdered. He said the only reason he thinks he was left was to tell the story. And in book after book this Nobel-prize winning author has told the story of his people and that terrible time. Over and over, he reminds us that the word illegal is the first step to the gas chambers. Is he being melodramatic--I do not think so.


Someone asked Dick Gregory one time why he marched and protested and was thrown in jail and beaten for standing up for his people. He'd thought for a few minutes and said, "When my grand child crawls up in my arms and sees the terrible scenes of what happened there on TV she may ask me, "Granddaddy, did you live then?" And Gregory said he would nod his head. "What did you do when all that was happening?" And he said that is why I have protested and raised my voice.

--Roger Lovette /


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