For the people who experienced the nightmare of the Holocaust, any return to those tragic memories is mental torture difficult to put into words.
How could it have happened? To break the moral code and the human right to live, to exist in such an inhumane way. The question seems purely rhetorical today. For how can it be answered? You could blame the Nazis, their totalitarian, destructive and repressive regime.
We know well how brilliantly they manage to turn people’s minds upside down with their mistaken theories. The German people, rightly proud of their high number of highly educated people in many fields, was not, obviously, comprised of only sympathizers of National Socialism. Fear paralysed people. The Nazi regime, like other regimes, made a public spectacle of punishing their opponents. But the free countries, the democratic ones looked on at the destruction of our people and there were not many righteous among them. For there were, possibly limited, forms of pressure, ways of protesting against the freakish plan of extermination of millions of human beings which was carried out without punishment by the Nazis.
Did the tragic aims of political correctness require that? We were refused the right to exist, why, even to shed a tear by the graves of our beloved, the unnamed “numbered” died. From the bottom of our harrowed hearts comes the cry suppressed for ages. Never again allow such an insane scene to happen anywhere to anyone. An effective barrier to this must be the passing on to the young generations our baggage of tragic experiences along with the plea to work as widely as possible to rid the human mind of the virus of intolerance and hate.
Respect for mankind, good, help for the needy are all messages spoken so beautifully by our late- lamented Pope John Paul II.
The contacts which I had the opportunity to make with German young people fill me with optimism and herald something positive. The engagement of these young people who are sensitive in the search for knowledge and the truth of those terrible times of disdain is wonderful.
Develop and bring into this work enlightened people, moral authorities, clergy of various denominations, but in my opinion, it is parents and pedagogues who play the primary role. They have the greatest influence on the shaping of minds in a spirit of tolerance and a coming closer of the family of mankind. I also think that democratic governments have the obligation to bring in the legal means to punish people and organizations which spread destructive and inciting slogans. It seems to me such punishments already exist in Germany. It is possible to achieve the aim of reconciliation and betterment of interpersonal relations. It is our, as victims (survivors) of the Holocaust’s, obligation to the millions of victims.
I, and my 6 person family, was imprisoned in the Lodz ghetto, and remained there, working on the repair and washing of German uniforms, until the liquidation. Of my family, I and my brother, who was liberated from Oswiecim and now lives in the USA, survived.
My name is Irena Zbyszyńska
Association of Jewish War Veterans
Translated by Karen Forth