Preface: Since hearing that Donald Trump's statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day did not mention the 6 million Jews who lost their lives these thoughts below have not gotten out of my head.
#NeverForget - I always thought this was a powerful statement. And on this International Holocaust Remembrance Day I'm feeling it more than ever before because of the actions of the current US President - from building a wall between the United States and Mexico to the suspension of refugees and immigrants from Muslim countries.
January 27 is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. A day we remember and honor the 6 million Jews and the 5 million others. A horrific genocide. As we say #NeverForget, we’ve also said #NeverAgain, but it has happened again - Cambodia, Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia. And it is still happening.
I’ve been to many places around the globe to honor and remember those who lost their lives - United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem, Museum of Tolerance, the Anne Frank House and smaller, regional memorials in places like the Oregon Holocaust Memorial and National Holocaust Memorial in Amsterdam. While I get the chills thinking of each of these visits, the one that stick with me the most right now is the memorial in Amsterdam - I was standing in what was the “Jewish Theatre” (just blocks from the beautiful Portuguese Synagoge that was built in 1675) realizing this is a gathering spot for Jews as part of the systematic approach of the Nazi’s to rid the world of the Jewish people (and others). A place that before the Holocaust and World War II was full of laughter, music and fun. Why? I ask that every year on this day. I ask that every time I think of the Holocaust survivors who lost their entire families. The survivors are heroes because they tell their story. We must #NeverForget these stories. We must share them with every generation. Because, as Martin Niemöller is most remembered:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
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 for me.
Right now, they are going for the Muslims. While I am not a Muslim, if I don’t speak up, who will they come for next? Me? My family? My friends? My neighbors?
Muslims stood up for Jews during the Holocaust. We must stand up for Muslims now.
I ask all leaders of all countries (and yes, this is pointed to a certain one who’s name I won’t use) to visit these memorials - to go to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (it is only a short walk from the White House) and stand in a railroad car, see the pile of shoes and hair. Put yourself in the shoes of 11 million people who died in the Holocaust and the many others in other genocides. These shouldn’t happen in the world we live in - not then and not now.
Please, #NeverForget. I will #NeverForget and I will speak up. I will make my voice heard and stand with my brothers and sisters - Jewish, Muslim, homosexual, people with with disabilities....