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Volunteer Blog: Holocaust memorial day by Jessica Palmer

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Blog and poem by Jessica Palmer

Holocaust Memorial Day is, in my opinion, one of the most important days in the year and it should be treated in the same way as Remembrance Day. HMD isn’t just about the genocide that took place during World War II, it is also about remembering victims of the other genocides that have happened in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. It is about remembering the huge and incredibly unjust loss of life that has taken place and to serve as a reminder that this should never happen again.
27th January is the date chosen for HMD as it marks the liberation of the largest of the Nazi death camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau, with 2017 marking 72 years since the camp was liberated. The Nazis operated more of these death camps across occupied Eastern Europe, with six million Jews killed in the various camps. Six million is a mind boggling number and the thought that the Nazis killed that many people is almost incomprehensible. Many Nazis were caught and put on trial for their crimes after the war had ended. But can there ever be justice for these crimes? Religious texts speak of forgiveness and the letting go of grudges, but is something so horrific as the Holocaust, and all subsequent genocides, something that can be forgiven?
Perhaps we should trust in the justice system. Many members of the Nazi Party were found guilty of war crimes and either put in prison or sentenced to death. But the same hasn’t happened in reference to other genocides. In Cambodia, Pol Pot was convicted of genocide in absentia and died never having been punished. Trials have been conducted in Rwanda, but there was no clear leaders of this massacre, so the only people on trial were individual murderers. While the Bosnian genocide in Srebrenica has been classified as a genocide on countless occasions, no one has yet been held responsible for this and it is often denied that it counts as a genocide. In these instances, full justice has never been obtained, so how can the people involved ever find forgiveness?
One of the main questions that is being asked for HMD 2017 is How Can Life Go On? It’s a thought provoking question as it turns thoughts away from what happened during the Holocaust to what happened afterwards. To what happened after the camps were liberated and the survivors freed. How did these people cope after what had happened to them and what they had been forced to endure. Did they cope? How could anyone possibly continue their life after something so unspeakable? But life does go on, it does continue. People survive and cope and carry on and rebuild. But surely nothing is ever the same again. Scars, both physical and mental, stay for a lifetime and they never disappear.
Humanity is resilient and, despite what might happen, it survives and it continues, it goes on. Life will always fight for survivial and that is the strongest evidence of resistance that can be given. The refusal to be stopped, to be silenced, to be stilled. This will always be the biggest frustration for any and all oppressive groups, life will always go on, no matter what it is faced with.

How can life go on?

When everything you know is gone?

When everyone you loved has been taken?

When you life has been shattered?

How can life go on?

When your scars are on show for all the world to see?

When people want to hear you story,

When it hurts too much to share it?

How can life go on?

When you want the world to know,

When you must fight to be heard,

That we must never forget?

How can life go on?

The phoenix rises from the ashes.

The poppy grows in the battlefield.

Can you do the same?


holocaust memorial day 2017 logo a tree with purple leaves


in Education and Community Hits: 3550