Sixty-eight years ago, Auschwitz was liberated. I have never been there, although I have twice been in nearby Krakow. The thought is too horrendous. How could I absorb and contain the tragedy and evil in that place? Just a week ago, a lovely Polish lady told me questioningly that she had heard ‘that Poland is the graveyard of Europe’ in Jewish eyes. I had to say that was true. Yes, we have moved on as a people, but Europe, once the soul of the Jewish world, is in many ways gone.
Both my wife and I have family – close family to our parents – who died horrifically in the Shoah. Our surviving parents are greatly affected to this day. Crippled, they, we and our people move on. We search our souls. What does the Shoah mean? Is there an answer for the unspeakable evil that occurred? Can the questions of theodicy be answered?
Blame can hardly be apportioned. Not only did Himmler mastermind the holocaust under the Nazi regime. The western world put up a united front against Jewish emigration from Europe that made their borders as much a barbed wire fence as those surrounding the death camps so many Jews (and Gypsies, homosexuals and others) were consigned to. In Canada, our deputy minister of immigration said ‘None is too Many’ to Jewish immigration. In England, token numbers and just 10,000 Jewish children were taken in. Paradoxically it was countries like China that provided refuge – but they were almost impossible to reach.
Today, genocides continue. Cambodia, Rwanda were just two of the most egregious examples. Today, nothing has changed. The world watches and remains inert as these tragedies unfold. This is why we must all search our souls.
The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned!
For this our heart has become sick, for these things our eyes have grown dim,
for Mount Zion which lies desolate; jackals prowl over it.
But you, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures to all generations.
Why do you forget us forever, why do you forsake us for so many days?
Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored!
Renew our days as of old– unless you have utterly rejected us,
and you remain exceedingly angry with us.