Yesterday marked 73 years since the prisoners held captive in Poland’s Auschwitz death camp were liberated by the Soviet Army.
The Holocaust Remembrance is marked annually with our heads bowed in reverence for six million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis, and 11 million other innocent victims enslaved and barbarically murdered for their nationality, religious status, disability, sexual orientation, or because they boldly defied the incomprehensible evil of the Nazi regime.
Yesterday, millions of us from around the world, with heads lowered in somber silence, gazed into our small candle flames, burning in remembrance of a place seemingly far away in both distance and time. We did this to honor people who many of us could never have known – and yet, perhaps we meet them in the candlelight, and see them emerging in one another’s eyes, as we stand together against divisive and inciteful language and behavior from community and national leaders.
Our hearts are heavy, remembering the Nazi genocide that occurred not-so-long-ago, and we are burdened still, as we look ahead. Coming to light, 73 years later, is the terrible fact that dangerous leadership which suppresses criticism and opposition, and promotes aggressive nationalism, racism, and destruction of entire communities and public institutions, does not rest as morbid history, and today, we are not untouchable. Evil roils in the underbelly of corrupt governments, threatening to destabilize a nation, and possibly our world.
Today, we who believe in tolerance, inclusion, respect, and cooperation, lift our candles to light the path ahead, as our efforts will not be reduced in any measure by the power of evil. We are fortunate today, that through the web and in person we are greater in number, stronger in spirit, and louder in voice than tyranny’s attempts to quell or silence us.
A gentle, yet resonating voice powered by love, not hate, by faith, not desire, brings us the strength and courage of one who moved much more than mountains. Anne Frank, a teenager, before she was captured and killed by Nazi soldiers journaled, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne wrote that not only for herself and her comrades, but for you and for me, for yesterday, today, and tomorrow.