Over 11 million people died in the systematic genocide carried out by the Third Reich. The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2006 is "One person can make a difference". Some ceremonies are being held today insted of tomorrow to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. This is because of the clash with the Jewish sabbath.
It is also a sobering experience remembering the 1.5 Million Souls under 12 years of age that never returned ...........and a important to think of children still being caught up in conflict to this day.
During the years of the Holocaust everyone had to make moral choices. Some people became perpetrators, others were bystanders. A small minority chose to help the persecuted – these are the rescuers and helpers. This was an extraordinary selfless choice. It meant risking not only their own lives but the lives of their own family and children. Many paid with their lives. None succeeded in halting the Holocaust but many Jews were enabled to survive as a result of their efforts. Each chose to defy the power of the Nazis and their collaborators – mostly single-handedly. Mostly we think of them as non-Jews who helped Jews but we should not overlook the many acts of kindness and support between persecuted Jews as well. That choice made a huge difference to many individual lives. More importantly they showed the power of the individual and provided hope in otherwise hopeless circumstances by demonstrating the importance of moral courage in action.
Individuals who make moral choices and act upon them can and do make a difference. They demonstrate that those who actively oppose prejudice, racism, persecution and murder can make a difference. Making such moral choices is challenging for individuals and many were fearful but persevered in spite of their fears. Their example shows that learning to use one’s voice to enhance positive human values turns good intentions into real actions. It is about making the choices to do what is right rather than what is expedient. It sets out to dispel the argument, ‘I am only one person, what can I do?’, and shows that one person can achieve a great deal, however modest their actions might initially appear.
"The first to perish were the children, abandoned orphans
The world's best, the bleak earth's brightest
These children might have been our comfort
From these sad, mute, bleak faces
Our new dawn might have risen"
- From "Song of the Murdered Jewish People"by Yitzhak Katzenelson
"Childhood is a time of innocence, a cloak of protection under which the future generation may experience the gifts of life. At this stage, individuals discover their self, and formulate the basic attitude and perception through which they view the world. Because they comprise the future generation of humanity and are gaining the experience they will need to lead our world, children are the most prized possession of our population. However, 1.5 million children experienced a different form of childhood. They were stripped from their families, forced to work in concentration camps, and eventually murdered during a period of utmost evil, the Holocaust."Read more here.