Before me sits a young woman. I cut off her hair, thick and beautiful, and she grasps my hand and begs me to remember that I too am a Jew. She knows that she is lost. 'But remember,' she says, 'you see what is being done to us. That's why my wish for you is that you will survive and take revenge for our innocent blood, which will never rest.' She has not had time to get up when a murderer who is walking between the benches lashes her on the head with his whip. Blood shows on her now shorn head. That evening, the blood of tens of thousands of victims, unable to rest, thrust itself upwards to the surface.
—From The Last Jew of Treblinka by Chil Rajchman.
Yesterday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In the moments right before sleep last night, I thought of a particular interview I had with a Holocaust survivor, who is also a family friend. I still have the tape with his interview. He told me a few weeks after this interview that he had confided in me things he had never even shared with his wife. I was so very young. I still am quite young, but then, I was really just a baby barely out of high school. I wasn't prepared for the full emotional responsibility of being confided in such a manner. But I accepted it, I wanted to prove to him that I was worthy of his confidence, worthy to tell his story because he could not.
I'm scared by what will happen when people like him are no longer around to confide. I'm scared too by what will happen when people like me who have heard and transcribed survivors' stories are no longer around to share them. But most of all, I'm scared by how the Holocaust is brandished as an ideological weapon, by strong waves of neo-Nazism and the belittling of Holocaust survivors in political debates around the world. Yet, I still remain optimistic because I'm heartened by people who care.
There are more eloquent words than mine being written on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and I'll leave you with a few of them:
: : Light a Candle
: : Mehdi Hasan's Article
: : The Courage to Speak Up
: : A Stand Against Neo-Nazism
: : A Holocaust Survivor Shares his Story
Image credit: Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.