Yom HaShoah: Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day

Here in Israel we commemorate the Holocaust on a different day to that chosen by the rest of the world and that difference is very significant.

In 2005 the UN designated January 27th as Holocaust Memorial Day – the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the advancing Soviet army.

Israel commemorates the Holocaust on the 27th of Nisan and remembers not only the genocide of six million Jews in Europe, but also the 93,000 Jewish Partisans, members of the Resistance and Ghetto fighters who actively opposed the Nazi regime.

Whereas the international memorial events take place on the anniversary of the rescue of Jews by a foreign force, the Israeli commemorations also highlight those who, despite having no country of their own, no support network or supply lines actively fought and worked to defeat the Nazis and save as many lives as possible.  Those brave men and women were active all over Europe and North Africa, in forests, ghettos, towns and concentration camps and the wide variety of forms which the resistance took is echoed in Haim Gouri’s famous poem.

“Those who stole a loaf of bread – resisted

Those who taught in secret – resisted

Those who wrote, disseminated, warned and shattered illusions – resisted

Those who sneaked in a Torah scroll – resisted

Those who faked documents – resisted

Those who smuggled from one country to another – resisted

Those who kept a written record and hid it – resisted

Those who helped – resisted

Those who acted as couriers between prisoners and smuggled instructions and weapons – resisted

Those who fought hand to hand in the streets of the cities, in the hills and forests – resisted

Those who rose in revolt in the camps – resisted

Those who rebelled in the ghettoes, among the crumbling walls, in the most desperate revolt of all – resisted.”

In addition to the pledge of ‘never again’, the lesson of the Holocaust is also that we cannot and must not rely upon others to safeguard the Jewish nation. Our protection is our own responsibility and each one of us has a role, however small, to play in resisting those who, sixty-six years after the end of the Second World War, still seek to deny Jews the same rights as every other nation takes for granted.

The memorial to the Partisans and Ghetto fighters at Latrun (designed by Alexander Bogden – himself a former Partisan commander who passed away only last year) not only serves to commemorate the barely comprehensible bravery of those individuals who refused to be daunted by the insurmountable.

It also represents the continuation of that approach which underscored the establishment of the State of Israel itself and the I.D.F. and continues to inspire all of us who, in our own small ways, resist the types of ideologies which sadly did not fade into history with the liberation of Auschwitz-Birenau.

יהי זכרם לנצח אתנו

May their memory be with us forever.

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12 replies »

  1. I think that while it’s fine for you to draw that lesson from the Holocaust, each of us is different and can draw different lessons too. So I think you are too prescriptive in your interpretation. Nevertheless, I join with you in remembering those who were murdered and those brave people who resisted.

  2. The lesson I draw from the Holocaust is the exact same one provided by Herzl in Der Judenstaat:

    “We have sincerely tried everywhere to merge with the national communities in which we live, seeking only to preserve the faith of our fathers. It is not permitted us. In vain are we loyal patriots, sometimes superloyal; in vain do we make the same sacrifices of life and property as our fellow citizens; in vain do we strive to enhance the fame of our native lands in the arts and sciences, or her wealth by trade and commerce. In our native lands where we have lived for centuries we are still decried as aliens, often by men whose ancestors had not yet come at a time when Jewish sighs had long been heard in the country. . .”


    “but also the 93,000 Jewish Partisans, members of the Resistance and Ghetto fighters who actively opposed the Nazi regime.”

    And the Nazi regime could not have achieved what it did in terms of the genocide of the Jewish people without the almost complete and willing collaboration of most of Europe together with the, at very best, total insouciance of the Allies.

    Anti-Semitism is something that can never be eradicated from the gentile world because it is far too deeply embedded in the culture. Israel is the Jewish people’s last throw of the dice. If she falls then the survivors in the Diaspora will simply be marking time until they too are eventually eliminated. However, in a moral universe, after the Holocaust, it would be Europe’s survival that would be questioned and not Israel’s. The fact that many people do question Israel’s “right to exist” even now at this late date simply proves once again that Herzl was right beyond any shadow of a doubt. It is why my only loyalty is to the Jewish state. As far as I am concerned, the rest can go hang.

  3. “I think that while it’s fine for you to draw that lesson from the Holocaust,” insanitary

    Oh, thank you so much for your permission and your magnanimous compassionate condescension. What a relief to have your approval.

  4. Guys, don’t you all think that this year’s Yom H ashoah day has added resonance with the coincidental assassination of a modern tyrant – Bin Ladin – but without one drop of innocent blood being spilt in the process? Better even – in that regard – than Entebbe.

  5. “…each of us is different and can draw different lessons too.”

    Yes, but the anti-Zionist “lessons,” such as that the Holocaust means Israel should capitulate to the Arabs’ demands in order to be counted as “humane,” are illegitimate.

    Prescriptive on this point and proud of it.

  6. Thank you for this.

    May their memory be a blessing for us and for Israel.

    I note your emphasis on Jewish resistance.

    Not one suicide murderer among them.

  7. Hoi Polloi,

    Excellent points, very much in line with my thinking on the lessons of the Holocaust.

    The best man-made guarantor of “Never Again” is an exclusivist nation-state for the Jews: Israel as a Jewish Republic.

    And if people say “Never again” needs to be “Never again for everyone” (not just for the Jews), then, contrary to expectations, I actually agree with them, and I hold that the guarantor of that is the same: For every nation to be safe and secure in its own exclusivist nation-state.

    Because it was not just the Holocaust, but also other genocides such as happened in Rwanda in 1994, that show us what can happen when multiple nations share a single political roof. The lesson I learn most of all is of the need for nationalism in general and Jewish nationalism a.k.a. Zionism in particular.

  8. ziontruth

    history isn’t with you on the nation state as a guarantor of safety and security.

    However, as long as israel remains strong and retains the nuclear option, then NEVER AGAIN is a possibility, at least until iran or the arabs get the H Bomb …

  9. “history isn’t with you on the nation state as a guarantor of safety and security.”

    If you mean external threats, then you have a point, though I might reply that the absence of a nation-state is well-nigh a guarantor of the lack of safety and security of a nation.

    However, my main contention is that the nation-state guarantees safety and security for the nation as long as it exists. This isn’t self-evident, because today’s political thought is very much dominated by the idea that the state ought to be a free-for-all where multiple ethnicities are mixed and no one of them enjoys exclusive control. Multiculturalism is a recipe for disaster, and this we can know by sight.

    I believe Israel needs to guard against internal threats just as external. The push to make Israel a “state of all its citizen” (i.e. a Britain-style multiculturalist state) is as dangerous as Iran’s nuclear program.

    “However, as long as israel remains strong and retains the nuclear option, then NEVER AGAIN is a possibility, at least until iran or the arabs get the H Bomb …”

    In other words, not a possibility at all. I don’t see any chance of stopping Muslim nuclearization indefinitely. Most odds are we’ll have to go pre-emptive like in 1967.

  10. there is a muslim bomb already (pakistan). God help us all if it falls into the hands of the mad devils who would gladly all die if it meant the destruction of israel too.