Friday, October 23, 2009
The Holocaust Conference at my school is in full swing. This morning featured a panel* of survivors and liberators. How astonishing to realize that there are still people among us who carry such searing, painful, impossible first-hand memories of human brutality within themselves; how amazing to see what productive lives they've managed to build, despite those horrific traumatizing experiences; and how sobering to think that soon there will be no living witnesses left to contradict the silly/stupid "deniers."
And, how right Mrs. Rosenfeld and Rabbi Jacobs were to note the hopefulness implicit in the fact that so many of those survivors, forced to carry on after parents, siblings, and other family and friends had been so viciously mowed down, returned from the precipice of death and replenished the tree of life with new generations of children and grandchildren. That does answer the deniers, with an eloquence they probably can't understand.
Conference participant Gerhard Weinberg is right: unchecked hatred fueled the holocaust. But so did weak-willed compliance and indifference. As has been said so often: evil triumphs when "good" people fail to act. It's never enough merely to have free will, we have to want to use it.
*Frances Cutler Hahn, Nashville, TN
Ben Lesser, Las Vegas, NV
Eric Rosenfeld, Nashville, TN
Eva Rosenfeld, Nashville, TN
Jimmy Gentry, Franklin, TN
James Dorris, Chattanooga, TN