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Holocaust memory must guide our ‘new normal’ : EU Reporter China

Holocaust memory must guide our ‘new normal’

| March 31, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Guest contributor

Across the world, Jewish communities will soon bow their collective head to mark Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Jewish calendar, which begins on 7 April and ends on 8 April. It will forever be a poignant and highly emotional day. Since its inception in 1988, I have led the March of the Living organization, which each year enables 10,000 young people, Jews and non-Jews alike, to march along the infamous train tracks between Auschwitz and Birkenau, honoring those who were brutally murdered and those who survived the Holocaust. Tragically, this will be the second year in which we will not march in person, due to the pandemic, writes Dr. Shmuel Rosenman.

My heart aches at the thought that once again we will not be able to walk in those notorious footsteps. However, with the world having changed so much during the past year, it is a valuable chance to pause and reflect. There is much to contemplate. Significantly, COVID-19 has no respect for borders, nor does it discriminate between race, religion or belief. It is perhaps the ultimate proof that all humans are equal.

Sadly, it is a lesson we have yet to learn. Just as the virus has infected the world, so has bigotry and intolerance. Age-old prejudices have reared their head again. An Oxford University study found that almost 20% of English adults believe that Jews created coronavirus for financial gain. Distribution of white supremacist propaganda has increased in the United States by 86% during 2020. Meanwhile, the Council of Europe’s anti-racism commission recently warned of an “overall regression in human rights in Europe,� especially highlighting the targeting of Asian-origin communities and the rise in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. At the very moment when the world should be uniting to defeat a common global threat, humanity is in danger of turning on itself.

The Holocaust is the ultimate proof of what can happen when hatred is allowed to flourish. Marching at Auschwitz-Birkenau is a powerful statement that we will never allow it to happen again. Although we can’t march today, our determination to remember and learn from mankind’s darkest hour must not be diminished. As the world emerges from the constraints of pandemic life, we are tasked with creating a ‘new normal.’ On the other side of COVID-19, there will be new standards, new priorities. We must ensure that tomorrow’s world is characterized by camaraderie, brotherhood and love for one another.

The Nazis destroyed Germany, transforming its civilized society into an abyss, by stripping away these basic human values. We should not forget that Germany was widely considered a bastion of culture and progress before the Nazis wrote humanity’s darkest chapter. But from these depths of depravity, stories of hope were born. Many of those who survived the horrors of the Holocaust showed unimaginable resolve to eventually thrive and build happy, successful lives. These survivors personify the fortitude, determination and love of life that the world so desperately needs as we overcome this difficult period. Listening to these witnesses to mankind’s ultimate descent into evil can only inspire us to build a better world. Unfortunately, too many people remain unaware.

A poll across Europe prior to the pandemic showed that around a third of European respondents across seven countries knew “just a little or nothing at allâ€� about the Holocaust. Several months ago, a survey among 18-to-39 year-olds in the United States found that 23% believe the Holocaust is a myth, had been exaggerated or weren’t sure. It is surely only a small step from such ignorance, to the rise in anti-Semitism, prejudice and intolerance which has characterized the corona-age.

Across the globe, we stand at a crossroads. A new horizon is coming into view after the sadness of the past year. Only we can determine what tomorrow looks like. We must ensure that anti-Semitism, hatred and bigotry is not allowed to fester, as an ominous hangover into the ‘new normal’ ahead of us. We have the opportunity to start afresh, but clearly there is much work to be done.

This year, the message of Yom HaShoah is more important than ever before. This year, bowing our heads is not enough. At the top of our voices, we must warn those who don’t know where hatred can lead. We must scream the stories of Holocaust heroism, of the survivors, to show what is possible, to demonstrate that love and humanity can triumph. Instead of 10,000 people marching at Auschwitz-Birkenau, we must instead reach millions with a message of hope. The future of the world may depend on it.

Dr. Shmuel Rosenman is World Chairman of March of the Living.

Source:: EU Reporter Feed



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