Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Holocaust Survivors' Day

When I was in Germany a few years ago I visited Dachau Concentration Camp.  This is a picture of the ovens used to cremate the bodies of those prisoners who were killed in a variety of ways, mostly in the gas chambers.  The word "holocaust" means "whole-burnt."  In the Old Testament it referred to completely burning an offering as a way of giving it to God.  For this reason many Jews prefer to call the Nazi extermination of six million Jews "The Shoah" which means "the catastrophe."
When I was at Dachau there was a class of German high school students visiting the camp as well.  Their teacher told me that every student in Germany must visit one of the camps. 
Sometimes we may think that we have heard enough about the Holocaust, but we must not forget that ordinary civilized people like ourselves were so caught up in a hate-filled movement that they committed murder after murder.  A very good movie, "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas," gives us a tragic insight into what happens when we try to pretend nothing wrong is going on.
Victor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, wrote "Man's Search for Meaning," a great lesson in surviving whatever threatens to destroy us.
(There were also five million non-Jews killed in the camps: Gypsies, Poles, communists, homosexuals, and the mentally and physically ill.)

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