Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lest we forget

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day.

First Born and Little Guy are taking part in a play this afternoon.
FB is the narrator and LG is playing Otto Frank (and Hitler, but we won't talk about that ...)
We've been warned to bring a large supply of tissues.

I think back to when I was their age.
I was part of the first post war generation, born at a time when the world was still reeling from the revelation that evil could exist on such a vast scale.
I played Anne Frank in a presentation at my school.
My geography teacher was leaving the next day.
I knew nothing about this teacher's private life or history.

When I came back to school, my geography book was returned to me.
Inside was a note from the teacher, thanking me for my moving performance and telling me how closely her own life had been related to 'all that' as she called it.

Many years later, I copied and enlarged some old family photos.
As a result, my parents were able to identify some of the sepia images of people standing stiffly against backdrops (sheets hung between wooden houses).
We were able to point to the individuals and say - they didn't make it. Neither did they ... Or them ...

You'd think we'd learn, wouldn't you?
That never again wouldn't just be a slogan ...
You don't have to look far to see what a long way off we still are.

So I'll end with some quotes:

'Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.'

Edmund Burke

'Each time a man stands up for an idea he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.'

Bobby Kennedy

'First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.'

Pastor Martin Niemoller

'I am now almost ninety and my strength is slowly failing. Still, the task I received from Anne continues to restore my energy: to struggle for reconciliation and human rights throughout the world.'

Otto Frank

The last words must go to Anne herself.

'And finally I twist my heart round again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside, and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and could be, if there weren't any other people living in the world.'

'How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.'

I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.'

'I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

'Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!'

'No one has ever become poor by giving.'

'The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.'

'Whoever is happy will make others happy too.


Meloney Lemon said...

I was interested in reading the Anne Frank quote because i am interested in world war 2.It is good that you remembered to remember all the people who went to concontration camp.


Anonymous said...

This morning a gentleman on Radio Leicester was telling his story of how as a child of 5, him and his 1 year old sister where taken to a Jewish ghetto and then on to one of the death camps. Out of the children there only 1% of them survived (his sister survived too). Words seem so trite when you hear this and put all the other stories together and look at the bigger picture.

It must be remembered whatever faith or beliefs you have.

Anonymous said...

I do wonder if children should be faced with all the misery and pain in the world at a young age.... maybe they would be better off playing and having fun and not worrying too much about the holocaust?

Unknown said...

Lead me from death to life
from falsehood to truth
Lead me from despair to hope
from fear to trust
Lead me from hate to love
from war to peace
Let peace fill our heart,
our world, our universe

- Satish Kumar

Unknown said...

I remember how utterly gutted I was after visiting Yad Vashem - the cruelty we visit upon one another in our fear and ignorance is beyond tragic - and we keep on doing it - and all because we constantly forget who/what we truly are.

Anonymous said...

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. Aristotle

Meloney Lemon said...

Mutley, Hannah's only 9 and she knows the story of Anne Frank.

She doesn't yet know the full horror of the Holocaust - or of other global atrocities. She identifies with Anne as a little girl like her who had a very different life.
She will never forget her story, so I feel I've done my job.

She does lots of playing and having fun!

DBA Lehane said...

My wife's grandfather was one of the few who survived Auchwitz. When he returned to the Soviet Union he had to going in to hiding until his father bought him a new identity. The Soviets believed that anyone who survived the camps must have been a Nazi informer. He spent the rest of his life living a simple rural life, fishing the lakes around Kharkiv in Ukraine and refusing ever to watch the folly of war movies. I regret he never lived long enough for me to meet him but on days such as this, his memory lives on.

Debi said...

Thanks, all.

The performances were wonderful and very moving. There were presentations by 9 different groups - as well as the synagogue children inc my boys, there were 8 local schools and a group of young adults with disabilities. All races, cultures and faiths were represented and the overwhelming theme was one of hope. It certainly wasn't all shock/horror.

For example, one presentation showcased cubist art.
'Why cubist?' asked the teacher.
'Because the Nazis banned it,' the boy replied. 'So we do cubist art - because we can!'

Blogger said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.