So it was only people like me the Nazis were after, right?
If my Jewish great-grandparent had remained in Europe, the maternal line of our family might well have been wiped out.
6 million people – mostly Jews but also Gypsies (Roma), the mentally or physically disabled, and those identified as homosexuals – were targeted for “extermination” by the Third Reich in the 1930’s and 40’s as part of Hitler’s demonic Final Solution.
Despite the fact that survivors of Auschwitz and other concentration camps are still alive and numerous museums have been built to house memorabilia and extensive documentation, people like me – and you – are still at risk.
Why? Because only a third of the world believes the Holocaust ever happened.
Find that hard to believe? Me, too.
But in his cultural commentary published this past Monday, Dr. Jim Denison of the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture shared the raw data:
“Forty-six percent of the planet’s population has never heard of the Holocaust. A third of those who have believe it is a myth or exaggeration. As a result, only 33 percent of the world is aware of the Holocaust and believes it has been accurately described by history.
“The Anti-Defamation League discovered this data when it recently polled 53,000 adults in 102 countries, representing 88.4 percent of the world’s adult population. According to their surveys, 1.09 billion adults worldwide are deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes. That’s one in four. Not surprisingly, anti-Semitism is worst in the Middle East and North Africa, where 74 percent of the population harbors antagonism toward the Jews.”
Last week, Mike and I visited Yad Vashem, the impressive museum complex in Jerusalem dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Shoah, or Holocaust.
We had been there nearly 20 years before, and Mike aided me in search of one of the spots that means most to me: the small tree planted in a grove designed to honor the “Righteous Gentiles.”
No, not the one dedicated to the ten Boom family, whose story is recounted in the classic book and film The Hiding Place. That tree, which our guide told us died the year that Corrie ten Boom did and has since been replaced, always has a small pile of stones at its base placed there by appreciative visitors.
Instead, we were searching for the tree planted in honor of members of my father’s extended family: our Wallem cousins who fought for the Norwegian Resistance during the war.Courageous men and women who would not capitulate to the Nazis or collaborate with their evil.
Nordic people who physically resembled the infamous Aryan race that Hitler wanted to perpetuate yet who despised everything he stood for, and who gave their lives to oppose his Final Solution for the Jewish race.
My father’s people giving their lives for my mother’s.
Our tour group moved on down the long avenue of trees. Mike and I lingered behind, still searching.
Then a shout and my husband’s arm, pointing.
His camera, clicking, capturing a moment of reflection as his wife knelt by a slender tree and gave thanks.
And placed her stone at its base.