There are several Holocaust Remembrance days, which are observed every year. One of these remembrance days is January 27th, the day that Auschwitz was liberated.
Another Holocaust Remembrance Day, in 2015, is on Thursday, the 16th of April.
In the Jewish calendar, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Jews will celebrate The Holocaust Remembrance Day this year on the sunset of Wednesday, the 15th of April.
The title of my blog post today comes from a quote in a news article which you can read in full here.
This quote is from the article, which was written by Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg:
Are the numbers branded on the arms of [Holocaust] survivors beauty marks, reminders of the days when the orchestra [in a death camp] played melodic tunes, such as “Arbeit Macht Frei?”
This is news to me! I didn’t know that there is a “melodic tune,” based on the slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which was made up by Rudolf Hoess, the Commandant of the Auschwitz camp. In his younger days, Hoess was an inmate in a prison where the prisoners had to stay in their cells all day; they were never allowed out of their cells to work. That’s why Rudolf Hoess made up this catchy slogan which was put over the gates into the Class 1 camps, where prisoners worked. This sign was never put over the “death camps.” The slogan means that the prisoners in the Class 1 camps were free in spirit because they could fill their time by working.
The main Auschwitz camp was a Class 1 camp, which had this slogan over the gate; it is shown in the photo above.
Other Class 1 camps such as Dachau and Sachsenhausen also had this slogan over the gate.
This quote is from the article written by Rabbi Rosenberg:
By our standards, such actions as placidly lining up against a wall to be shot or walking silently into the gas chambers or standing nude and obedient at the edge of a ravine filled with blood-covered bodies awaiting one’s own turn to die, defy all understanding. Indeed, anti-Semites would suggest that Jews were different, somehow not quite as brave, not quite as courageous as the average person. Our enemies even will conclude that the Jews were guilty of the crimes they were accused of and, hence, with heavy conscience and accepting the punishment for their “crimes,” the Jews quietly submitted to their deserved punishment.
Nothing could be a greater falsification of the truth. The hopelessness seen in their faces was not a reflection of guilt; rather it was a realization that they had been completely deserted and betrayed by humanity. The light of morality, conscience and brotherhood had been completely extinguished, and for them, life became a terror-filled abyss. Responsibility for their death clearly lies with the Nazis and their collaborators.
In other words, the Jews had done nothing to cause the Nazis to want to get rid of them. Hitler just decided to gas the Jews for no reason at all, according to Rabbi Rosenberg.
The article written by Rabbi Rosenberg continues with this quote:
In order to understand the Jew of the Holocaust, we must attempt to put ourselves in his place. He knew of centuries of persecution carried out by the drunk and the sober, by the church and government dictum. He had suffered many instances of prejudice, degradation and depersonalization prior to the Holocaust. The Holocaust begins with the Nuremberg Laws, anti Semitic newspaper articles, cartoons, radio broadcasts, rallies, humiliations, beatings, intimidations (sic) and economic boycott. The Holocaust victim begins to feel as if he is choking; fear becomes a part of daily life.
Maybe he should leave Europe, he thinks. But to where should he go, and should he not stay together with his family? The International Conference at Evian, France, demonstrates that the world does not want the Jew. Not one country is willing to open the doors of freedom. The victim is trapped, like a child in a cage with a ravenous lion. The victim’s passport is marked with the letter “J” for Jude. Kristallnacht results in vast destruction: his home, his shop and even his place of worship cannot escape the wrath of maniacs bent upon the complete annihilation of the Jew.
The victim is informed that his children are expelled from school. The children do not understand. The victim is powerless to explain these atrocities to them. A yellow badge is to be worn and to be found on the streets. Without it means death.
In other words, the Jews had never done anything wrong in the entire history of the world, yet no country would take them in, not even the United States of America.
What should the Jews do to avoid a future Holocaust? They should start by looking up the true meaning of the slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei”.
Sachenhausen, which was a Class 1 camp, where prisoners had a chance to be released, had the Arbeit Macht Frei slogan on the entrance gate, which is shown in the photo below.