In a few days it will be the anniversary of the day on which the biggest Nazi extermination camp, KZ Auschwitz, was liberated by the Red Army. Between 1940 and 1945, between 1 million and 1.5 million people were murdered in the Birkenau (Auschwitz II) extermination camp.
More and more the name Auschwitz has become a synonym for the Holocaust. Since 1996, January 27 has been commemorated in Germany, and since 2005 – internationally, as “ Victims of Nazism Remembrance Day „.
Contemporary witnesses, people who survived the horror, can hardly be found nowadays. Most of them have died.
Only occasionally do we stop on such Memorial days, and one or another asks himself how the memory can be passed on in the future. http://israel.en-a.ch/politik/wider_das_vergessen_gedenken_an_die_opfer_des_holocaust-66777/
My friend Max Mannheimer remembered Auschwitz!
Once, when Max was a teenager, those nine letters sounded like vacation, sun and great love. In 1936, he spent his summer vacation with friends of his parents in the small Polish town. He was 16 years old and enjoyed a week with other young people his age swimming, at the ice cream parlor and at the youth club. It was there, in Auschwitz, he fell undyingly in love with Sala Bachner, a tailor’s daughter.
„Red cheeks, black hair, a beautiful girl. At midnight I ran through the Jewish cemetery for her, and as a reward for my test of courage, I got two kisses: one on the left cheek and one on the right.“ Remembering beautiful Sala, the man with the snow-white hair smiles. Lost in thoughts he looks into the patio of his small bungalow, located in a suburb of Munich – in the middle of the perpetrators‘ country. Where Max Mannheimer never wanted to return. http://www.spiegel.de/einestages/auschwitz-holocaust-ueberlebender-max-mannheimer-erinnert-sich-a-1015193.html
However Auschwitz also represents the darkest part of his life. Immediately upon arrival, he was separated from his wife, his parents and his sister, who were murdered that very first night. One of his brothers was murdered a short time later, only he and his brother Edgar survived the Holocaust.
Max used to travel tirelessly in order to tell his story in schools and educational establishments for adults. Upon his death on September 23, 2016 died one more of the last contemporary witnesses.
esther scheiner, israel
The following text has been written by Tamas Morvay and is published with his permit.
Zurich [ENA] When on January 27, 2017, the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp is commemorated, we can only state that almost all contemporary witnesses are dead. Only occasionally, on such Memorial days do we stop, and one or the other asks himself how the memory can be passed on in the future. Or when another synagogue is burning and we find that it remains necessary to remember.
In my „home port“ – Switzerland – the government recently stated in a report that. although Anti-Semitism exists, 151 years after their emancipation, the country’s Jews and their institutions must be protected against Racism – but asked them to please bear the financing of such protection themselves. Actually, as a matter of principle, the responsibility lies with the cantons and not the Federal Government. No one seems to remark that such demands had also been made in the past: almost 80 years ago, when synagogues were burning in Germany. At the time, the boat was already full in this country, and the Swiss Federal Council of the time closed the borders and sent people back to their certain extermination. Who will remind us of those facts in the future?
The fact that even nowadays a synagogue is highly flammable, as we have quite recently learned from Wuppertal. And just a few weeks ago, a high court decided that burning a house of worship is not anti-Semitic, but is the expression of a political attitude, a legitimate criticism of the State of Israel’s policies. And that the sole punishment would be a suspended sentence. According to any existing definition, it is anti-Semitic to hold local Jews responsible or co-responsible for the policies of the State of Israel. But being right and obtaining justice are two different matters. Especially if you are a Jew – in Wuppertal!
And then, practically in good time for the Victims of Nazism Remembrance Day , there was Björn Höcke. With his statement „we, the Germans, are the only nation in the world who planted a memorial of shame in the heart of its capital“, he not only warmed the hearts of the cheering masses in Dresden, but also heated minds across the whole political landscape. The fact that this man should have been under lock and key a long time ago, but was able to wriggle out of such a corner and is allowed to publically shout his demagogic sayings into microphones, leaves me speechless. Of course, „Mein Kampf“ can again be freely acquired in Germany, and after all, this was only the opinion of a single individual.
Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it – the validity of this dictum has not changed. Therefore, remembrance, and not only on ritualized anniversaries, is more necessary than ever. Today, as before, courageous people must speak up – not in a didactic way, but assuredly also in schools, starting with the youngest who, as we know, will shape the future. The government of my country should also – in the year when Switzerland is presiding over the „International Holocaust Remembrance Association “ – do more on January 27 than a simple greeting address as announced by the Foreign Ministry’s speaker: Shame on you!
Translated by: Translations International Herzliyah, Israel