Commentary Magazine


Re: What Does It Mean to Remember the Holocaust?

As a footnote to Jonathan Tobin’s post on what it means to remember the Holocaust, let me call attention to the post today by Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors (CJHS) entitled “It’s Not Enough.” The post asks 20 questions about action today, rather than simply remembering the past, since the ultimate purpose of recalling history is to ensure it is not repeated. Here are four of the questions:

Do you believe that the lesson we should learn from the Holocaust is one of tolerance?

Do you believe that continued sanctions and negotiations will deter a nuclear Iran?

Do you believe that American Jewry did all they could to stop the slaughter during the Holocaust?

Do you believe that another Holocaust can’t happen?

The slogan “Never Again” is meaningless if it does not have operational significance. Perhaps the most eloquent expression of this view was contained in the words of Joel M. Geiderman, vice chairman of the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Council, given in the Capitol rotunda on this day in 2009, before an audience of leaders that included President Obama. He called on them in the name of the victims of the Holocaust to assure that no country that threatens the destruction of another people ever obtains the means to achieve it:

By my articulating these words to you in this building, in this great hall of freedom, I am reminding all of you that what we do and don’t do matters and will be remembered. It would be far too easy to light twelve candles for twelve million murdered rather than six candles for six million. The harder work is to make sure that that does not happen. No more candles. Not anywhere. Never again.

The 20 CJHS questions are a guide to the things to think about as yet another storm gathers.