Thursday, 19 April 2012

Commemoration.

Today was Yom Ha'Shoah (translated as 'Day of the Shoah', in Hebrew. Shoah is the Hebrew word for the Holocaust meaning calamity).

Today was the day that Jewish people all over the world stop and remember their murdered families. In Israel a siren blasts at 10am and everyone literally stops what they are doing and observes a minutes silence. We have both been in Israel for Yom Ha'Shoah and it is an intensely moving experience to watch all people stop and remember their people together, as a community.




In the UK, on the 27th of January we remember the Holocaust on National Holocaust Memorial Day with events being held around the country. Sadly, there has been some controversy regarding this day with certain groups, such as the British Muslim Council not taking part due (in part) to the inclusion of the Armenian genocide of 1915 and the Gay genocide. It is pretty hideous that a day created to mourn the victims of prejudice, has been the focus of prejudice itself.

Today got us interested in commemoration and in what ways the Holocaust is commemorated. Are the commemorations appropriate? When we have visited the sites of the Holocaust many of the memorials were created by the Soviets, so the structures and the message reflect the Soviet message. Gypsy and Gay victims are completely ignored whereas Jewish people are generally mentioned. This is terribly unfair. Life is life and every single person must be commemorated. Perhaps it is now the time to rebuild memorials at each of the sites to reflect all those that were murdered?

We discussed today if the Gay or Gypsy communities hold separate days (like Jewish people) to commemorate their dead and although we can't be certain, from what we know the answer is no. There are various reasons for this (such as the lack of familial structure in the Gay community) but it seems so sad that millions of people are not commemorated. It then falls on our shoulders to remember all men, women and children who were victims of the Holocaust.

To us it is wonderful that Yom Ha'Shoah and National Holocaust Memorial Day exists. These people need to be remembered. We have spoken at length about learning from the past to create a better future, but how can we do that if we do not commemorate and remember? It is not a case of dwelling on the past. It is a case of remembering innocent men, women and children whose lives and loves were destroyed, in order that we ensure it does not happen again to anyone. 

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