The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/w/wiesel.elie/press/jerusalem-post.980423


Subject:       Jerusalem Post - 4/23/98 - 

The following article by Elie Wiesel appeared today in the  
Jerusalem Post in conjunction with Yom Hashoa, Holocaust 
Rememberance day. 

****************************************************************

In memory   

By Elie Wiesel 
(We remember Auschwitz because we believe the world is 
worthy of salvation)  
--------------------------------------------------------
    Look at the pictures at Yad Vashem, look at them well.    
Look at them and try to remember things that you have not    
known. Look at the pictures as we do. In fear and    
trembling.   
    I remember: A transport arrived from Hungary. At    
midnight. I remember the yelling. The shouting. The barking    
of dogs. I remember the incandescent skies. In a matter of    
seconds, the community disintegrated. A succession of    
separations. Old from young. Brothers from sisters.    
Children from parents. I remember: I looked at those who    
went off in a different direction, I am still looking. I am    
afraid: If I stop seeing them, they will die. I keep on    
seeing them, and yet they died nevertheless.   
    We could not believe it then; we find it hard to    
believe now. Aberration or culmination of history,    
Auschwitz recalls history itself into question. It placed    
civilization on trial and illustrated its downfall. What    
was undertaken there by human beings against other human    
beings will affect generations to come. After Auschwitz,    
our hope itself is filled with anguish.   
    Look at the pictures, look at them well. They    
represent a world that existed beyond reality and beyond    
imagination -  a world that evolved beyond time. Its laws    
were strange, its customs rigid. And yet, it was a world    
just like ours: with its rulers and servants, its princes    
and madmen, its poets and dreamers, its idols and their    
worshipers. They spoke a new language and followed a new    
system replacing all those that existed on the outside.   
    In Auschwitz, men and women looked alike. They had no    
age, no name, no identity, no individuality, no face; they    
did not laugh, nor did they cry; they did not smile nor did    
they curse. They lived in a creation parallel to ours - a    
creation dominated and willed by death. We lived inside    
death. The killers themselves were dead - for their    
humanity had died.   
    Often I wonder what mystery is greater, the mystery of    
the killers or that of the victims. What is more baffling:    
the fact that so many men became murderers, seeing in    
murder a kind of vocation and fulfillment, or the fact that    
so many human beings became their victims?   
    Who were the citizens of that world, of that twisted    
and distorted demonic United Nations? People from all over    
Europe - and beyond. They had been brought there for a    
variety of reasons. Russian prisoners of war, French    
underground fighters, Dutch and Norwegian and Danish    
freedom fighters, Polish and Ukrainian and Lithuanian and    
Belgian men and women who defied Nazi occupation, priests    
and scholars, homosexuals and Jehovah's witnesses,    
communists and liberals: oh yes - not all victims were    
Jews, but all Jews were victims.   
    JEWS were the principal target of our common enemy.    
Around one million Jews were exterminated in Auschwitz.    
Look at the pictures, look at them well: Look and try to    
see what you cannot see. The old rabbis and their fervent    
pupils, the desperate mothers and their tears, the    
children, the endless processions of Jewish children    
walking towards the flames, the flames that rose to the    
seventh heaven as if to burn the celestial throne itself.   
    The children, the children: they will forever haunt us    
with their silent pleas for some spark of compassion and    
understanding. How many of them could have helped    
humankind? How many could have discovered a cure for cancer    
or other diseases? They vanished. Some of them thrown in    
the flames - alive. Have they taken our hope with them?    
    More than 50 years after Auschwitz, we remember    
Auschwitz not because we seek to arouse compassion or pity    
for ourselves; it is too late for that.   
    We remember Auschwitz for the sake of all victims    
everywhere who suffer. We remember our hunger so as to    
eliminate starvation today. We remember our anguish so as    
to proclaim the right of men and women everywhere to live    
without fear. We remember our death so as to denounce the    
insanity of violence and the absurdity of war, the ugliness    
of war, the shame of war.   
    We remember Auschwitz because we believe that, in    
spite of the past, the world is worthy of salvation; and    
salvation can be found in memory - in memory alone.   
(c) Jerusalem Post 1998



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