Thoughts on the Holocaust

As I keep exploring new places and occasionally, encounter people who have never heard of the Holocaust, I find myself gripped by emotions that, I am afraid, will never fade away.

In general, I prefer to see the good in the world, in people. I believe we are all limited to our own perspectives, connecting mostly with our own experiences and understandings.

And thus, we have to be open to others, see where they are coming from, and always aspire for a dialogue.

Very few people I met were Holocaust deniers. I could count them on one hand. A denial of the Holocaust usually stems from a very deep misconception of history, or (and I do not think of them much), Antisemitic people. Sometimes I prefer not to engage in someone’s misconception. And the Holocaust is one of those few subjects.

Below is a Facebook post I wrote back in 2017 when I was about to go on a flight from Tel Aviv to Berlin for the first time. A lot of my emotions went into this post. I don’t write or think about this subject much, it’s just in me. And I do not like it being there. 

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Next week I will be visiting Berlin for the first time. I have some days to explore it on my own before my co-workers will arrive for a staff retreat. I was considering avoiding any Jewish related places. Museum, memorial, monument. I was going to focus on art, music, fun places. But this morning, I decided to change this plan, just a little, adding the Holocaust Museum to my to-do list.

Never in my life I visited a Nazi concentration camp.

I moved to the U.S just before my class went to visit them in Poland. But I never felt the need to visit them.

I always thought our world hasn’t evolved much since then, and that the Holocaust hovers around me like a plague all the time to remind me of it.

Sometimes words on the internet tell me that the Holocaust never happened. “Only some thousands died” is another statement. “Stop whining about it for sympathy,” they say in the comment section.

Most of it is ignorance, boredom or racism. However, I also know that Israel is using the tender memory of the Holocaust. Using it well: The teachers at my school used the trauma to unite us, to keep us strong and spirited. But mostly, afraid. Afraid of the outside world, of anyone who isn’t Jewish. Isn’t us.

Israel is Israel. I am enfolded with it whenever I go. People say all sorts of things, I am used to it. I spent a long time abroad. Yet, something deep inside me falls into the hands of the conspirators who say it never took place. Because history is fun to play with, especially on the internet.

And I find myself wishing their scheme was real: I wish the holocaust never happened.

I would be a completely different person. Maybe living in a different place, speaking different languages, or maybe I would not be at all.

I wish the holocaust never happened.

I would have a larger family. I would get to know those communities and cultures that were wiped out. Villages, towns, markets. Gone. Except at times, beyond white school t-shirts, the military attire, and the strong solid images Israel planted in my vision; I can see blurry figures:
Craft people, makers of simple house tools, they are baking warm bread, reading the exact same books every year, lighting candles to pray, using their own language as well as the local one, feeling at home. I am who I am thanks to them, too, and I am grateful. We are still connected. It hasn’t been that long.

I wish the holocaust never happened.

Because millions of women, men, children, and babies would not have perished. Stripped of any dreams or memories of being human. Caged, starved, shot, gassed and burned like cattle in the well documented and organized factories of death.
I wish the holocaust never happened.

Because death is in us today and I always wanted it to leave me. Because we are losing ourselves in fear. Forever feeling like prey. Forever trapped in death. I wish we praised life the way we say we praise it, drink to it, all lives, every life.

I wish we spoke about life more than we speak about death. Much more.

I wish the holocaust never happened.

I wish it for selfish reasons. Because I cannot remember living without the horrors gripping me, stored in the darkest corners of my mind, haunting me at night: abused bodies, piled over each other in a mass grave no one will ever find, I wish I have never seen them. Broken skin, burnt hair, dead flesh, and dim souls. I wish I never met you. Little girls experimented on in Nazi laboratories, I wish I never heard your screams.

I wish the holocaust never happened.

Because we are injured and our wound does not heal.

Let’s look forward, without forgetting. Let’s say goodbye to death, for now.