A Force for Life, Not for Anger
Remembering the Holocaust has led to new heights in interfaith relations, Jewish life, and caring for the oppressed.
Holocaust remembrance has struck a resonant chord with the American people. More than 15 million people, 80% of them non-Jews, have visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum since its opening. Surveys show that, exposed to the enormity of death unleashed by the Shoah (the Hebrew word for the Holocaust), visitors are emotionally moved to take greater responsibility for society and for potential victims of persecution. Paradoxically, Holocaust remembrance pulls people to the side of increased life, a kind of unexpected testimony to the decency of the human spirit.
Logically, Holocaust memory should be a force for anger and revenge, for it is the result of a uniquely absolute, government-sponsored plan to kill all Jews. The murder of six million Jews; the systematic degradation, stripping of human rights, deprivation of elemental living needs before the actual genocide began; the gypsies, Poles, and gay people who also were swept into persecution and death in the Nazi mechanisms of the Shoah; the fact that all this was made possible by the relative apathy of the civilized world: These truths should enrage us and lead us to moral despair.