Survivors, liberation and rebuilding lives Holocaust memorial day 2005 A power-point presentation for collective worship in Haringey schools
‘There are 350,000 survivors of the Holocaust alive today...There are 350,000 experts who just want to be useful with the remainder of their lives. Please listen to the words and the echoes and the ghosts. And please teach this in your schools’.Steven Spielberg, Academy Award acceptance speech
During the Holocaust Jews were forced to wear a starThis star is made from photographs of people who died.
This year is the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the extermination and concentration camps in Germany. It is an opportunity to show respect for the survivors of Nazi persecution and mass murder and to listen and learn from what they can tell us about the best and the worst of human behaviour.
The Holocaust is usually taught as the mass genocide of almost six million Jews in Europe during World War II. But, more than five million others were also persecuted, starved, tortured, tattooed with a number and killed.
Of the 11 million people killed during the Holocaust six million were Polish citizens. Of these: • three million were Polish Jews • three million were Polish Christians and Catholics. .
Most of the remaining victims, Jews and non-Jews, were from other countries including Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Holland, France and even Germany
These five million included ordinary people - men women and children. They included political prisoners, lesbians, gay men, black people and Jehovah's Witnesses. The survivors and the families of these five million sometimes feel overshadowed by the Jewish casualties. Nonetheless, these people need to be recognized and remembered.
Many of these died for their race or their beliefs. Many died helping their Jewish neighbours by providing food, shelter or protection for their families. They too deserve their place in history.
The Nazis decided that it was a waste of time and money to support disabled people. During Hitler's "cleansing programme", thousands of people with various disabilities were deemed useless and simply put to death like unwanted dogs and cats
The Roma Gypsies were also murdered because of their race. They were persecuted and denied privileges in many European countries. The Nazis believed that both the Jews and Gypsies were racially inferior and therefore worthless. Like the Jews, the Gypsies were moved into special areas set up by the Nazis.
Half a million Gypsies, almost the entire Eastern European Gypsy population, was wiped out during the Holocaust
Rev. Martin Niemöller said: ‘First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist. Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade union leaders, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade union leader.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.’
"...to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all...“ Elie Wiesel shown aged 15
What is a survivor? • one who lives through affliction; • one who outlives another; • one that survives in spite of adversity;
The stories of survivors touch us.They tell us the worst and most depraved depths that humanity can sink to. They also show us the compassion and strength that human beings can demonstrate in times of extreme evil.
‘I think a lot of survivors feel very guilty about surviving. For the longest time I kept asking myself, "Why am I alive? Why is my father dead? Why did 6,000,000 die and I am alive?" And when I got older, I began to realize that maybe God chose me because whatever little I have to contribute to telling of this, I am able to do that now.’ a survivor
Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize said: ‘Ask any survivor and he will tell you, he who has not lived the event will never know it. And he who went through it will not reveal it, not really, not entirely. Between his memory and his reflection there is a wall and it cannot be pierced.
..only the survivor can bear witness, transmit a spark of the flame, tell a fragment of the tale, a reflection of the truth.’
Tamara Deuel, Holocaust survivor, said ‘I have been able to transfer the horror of the Holocaust in my art. Every individual who survived that other world, has a duty to leave documentation behind so that future generations will remember and will not forget.’
Have the people of the world learned from the evil of the past? Have we forgotten? Have we turned our backs and let it happen again? Could it happen again? Could it happen here? Is it happening somewhere now?