Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day

Indifference by Fritz Hirschberger (1912-2004)

Sunday evening, 15 April until sundown 16 April is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Can you imagine an entire country coming to a standstill for two minutes? This means stopping what your doing, whether you are at home or at work or in your car and thinking about the six million lives that were lost. A siren is sounded at 10AM on Monday and everyone stops what they are doing: cars stop driving and the drivers get out of their cars and stand in the middle of the highway for two minutes. The first time I experienced this, it brought me to tears. I was in a bus on my way to work and the bus driver stopped on the highway, he got out of the bus and the passengers stood in the aisle of the bus. In front of me I saw a sea of cars; it literally gave me goose bumps.

We lost a total of 120 family members on both sides of my family. One of my cousins, a professor at Leiden University in Holland, was riding his bike to the university when some Nazi soldiers stopped him, forced him to pull down his pants and upon seeing that he was circumcised, they shot him dead on the spot. My great-aunt and her sister and parents were rounded up and sent to Riga, Latvia. She, her mother and sister survived under great hardship, but her father z”l died on Lag B’Omer from gangrene that developed from an ingrown toenail.

My mother-in-law’s first husband was sent to a forced labor camp in Slovakia where he was murdered. They had only been married for six months. László Weiner was a promising Hungarian composer and conductor, whose musical vision was destroyed before it had a chance to blossom. Fortunately, a few of his compositions survived the war and have been played in several concerts in Budapest and elsewhere: one of them is due to be played in the Swiss capital, Berne, this coming November.

My mother-in-law, Vera Rozsa, went into hiding herself, living with a false identity as a Christian: her talent as an actress allowed her to walk unharmed out of two Gestapo interrogations. She also worked at the Swedish delegation in Budapest with Raoul Wallenberg who tried to save the lives of as many Jews as possible.

I will light seven memorial candles on Sunday, one for my family members and six for the six million who lost their lives for nothing more than meaningless hatred. Have we learned from those mistakes? I wonder……

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Written by Baroness Tapuzina

Michelle Nordell (aka Baroness Tapuzina) was a foodie from the womb growing up in the House of Weird Vegetables, so named by a family friend because all of the unusual and exotic food cooked and eaten there. She loves to change recipes using herbs from her garden and spices from the spice shops she enjoys visiting.

3 thoughts on “Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day

  1. Thank you for taking the time to remember…Many of my family members died during the Holocaust, yet my parents were lucky enough to escape from Vienna in 1938 and endure an 8 month journey through Belgium, Germany and France, arriving in the United States in 1939. I honor their blessed memory and the memory of all those who perished by serving on the Board of the Florida Holocaust Museum here in Pinellas County, Florida (www.flholocaustmuseum.org)
    To answer your question about whether we have learned…genocide continues in Darfur as it did in Rwanda. We need to be more vigilant in protecting the rights of individuals and ensuring that indifference may never be the norm.

  2. I read the article about the Holocaust being removed from the British schools curriculum. I think it is appauling.

    Genocides do continue. We have witnessed genocides in Biafra, Armenia, Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Cambodia…… somehow people find it so easy to kill one another. And the senseless suicide bombings in Iraq and here in Israel. When will the madness stop!

    A lot of innocence has been taken away from people here in Israel. I thought I lost my innocence when 9/11 occured, but it was really taken away when a bus blew up across the street from a bus I was sitting in several years ago. Innocence is something that you cannot get back.

    Some days I feel like humanity has lost itself and all we know is hate and killing. Then, something happens to change my mind like when Jewish families in the center and south of Israel took in Muslim families from the Galilee during the Lebanon War this past summer. Humanity is still around.

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