Today is Yom HaShoah, the day we remember the 6 million Jews murdered in The Holocaust.
I normally prefer to talk about The Holocaust in general terms, but I feel like today telling my family’s story.
In one sense I am quite lucky. My great grandparents settled in this country well World War I. By the time World War II started, their children, my grandparents, were growing up couched in the freedom and safety of America. The families they left behind were not so lucky. On my mother’s maternal line, both of her grandparents were born and raised in Dobromil, Poland (which is now in the Ukraine).
In the late 1970’s, at the urging of his children, my mother’s grandfather published a short book about the shtetl of his youth. It was called Dobromil.
The book is dedicated to the memory of his father, his siblings and their families who lost their lives because they were Jews.
Meyer (or Meir in Hebrew) Treiber was registered by one of my uncles on the Yom HaShoah database 40 years ago. Meyer was my mother’s great-grandfather.
The survivors are starting to pass away. Their first person accounts of the horrors they experienced will soon be a memory.
It’s important to remember all of the victims. Not just the Jews, but the Gypsies, the Homosexuals and everyone who was killed because they did not fit into the world that the Nazis envisioned. It’s also important to remember because the Holocaust is not the first, or the last mass slaughter in modern memory of human beings who were killed because they were different.
At the beginning and end of the day, we are all human beings. No matter what labels are used to define us, we are the same inside.
I’m going end this post with a quotation by Martin Niemoller that is as true today as it was during World War II.
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.