The building was triangular shaped, constructed of cold grey concrete like a bunker and yet, it appeared as a prism of light with the sunlight pouring through the skylight at the apex. As we approached the entrance, my friend Noreen said, “I don’t think that I can do this.” I had visited before so I answered, “It is extremely difficult, but it is something that we must do.” We were entering Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.
That day, I encountered three facts that seared my soul.
How did the Holocaust begin? In 1933 under the Nazis, German scientists developed false science to support the false idea of a superior Arian race. German educators used a common curriculum of propaganda and lies to teach this idea of a superior race to innocent children beginning in kindergarten. The irony is that for over 3400 years the Jews had prayed twice a day, a prayer in which God commands them to teach their children about Him, “…as they rise up, as they sit down as they go on their way…” The Jews continued to teach their children that only God is superior.
As I entered another gallery, I was stopped by a WALL SIZE photograph of a German soldier ready to fire his rifle into the back of the head of a young Jewish mother holding her dead child. I turned to stone. Who took these pictures and the hundreds of thousands more in this museum? I knew the Jews hadn’t because they were all dead. The second fact that I learned was that the Nazis themselves recorded and photographed every atrocity that they initiated and participated in as a memorial of their greatness for future generations. When I realized that fact I couldn’t breathe.
The third fact is this. The greatest problem of the third Reich was the disposal of the bodies of 6 million Jews whom they had murdered. In contrast, the Jews’ greatest problem was, and still is, to find the names of every man, woman and child who had been murdered. This explains why the name of this museum is taken from Isaiah 56:5 where God speaks, “And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (Yad Vashem)…that shall not be cut off.”
There is a small children’s museum. You enter into complete darkness holding on to a hand rail and, as you walk, you see tiny pinpoint lights overhead. You hear in seven languages the name, age and home town of the 1.5 million children who were murdered. The reading of the victims’ names never stops 24 hours a day- seven days a week. It was heart-breaking to hear and yet, I was glad that even though their lives were cut short, their names continued to live.
As we exited out onto a terrace into the light, with all of Jerusalem at our feet, Noreen and I clung together and wept. We promised we would never forget.
I titled this article "Holocaust Revisted" because I DID FORGET! The International Holocaust Remembrance Day was on January 27, 2016. The United Nations General Assembly had designated that day as an annual day in memory of the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. The UN desires all countries to honor the victims and to develop educational programs to prevent future pogroms. Truly, may we never forget and never quit telling this true story.
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