Today is the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, known as Yom HaShoah. It is the day of commemoration for the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, and for the Jewish resistance in that period.
The Holocaust was total, systematic genocide, carried out by Nazi Germany, its supporters and collaborators. The sole object was to annihilate the Jewish people. The principal reason lay in the Nazis’ racist and antisemitic ideology. Between 1933 and 1941, Hitler’s Germany adopted a policy that stripped the Jews of their rights and their properties, a policy that marked out and confined the Jewish population and won widespread support from Germany society and large areas of occupied Europe. Following the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Nazis launched systematic mass murder: the Final Solution. If left alone, evil tends to grow: Nazi authorities operated extermination camps to kill Jews, all Jews. That was the intention. In 1945, the tragic result was six million Jews who had been assassinated.
There was no getting away. The assassins did not stop at razing Jewish communities, they tracked each hidden Jew and hunted down every fugitive with a deadly weapon. The crime of being Jewish deserved no pity: men, women, children, apostates, the religious, the healthy, the sick, artists, cobblers, doctors, pastry cooks, economists, they were all made to suffer and to die, without relief or hope.
By the end of the Second World War, most of the Jews in Europe were dead. A civilisation that had flourished for many thousands of years was dead.
The stunned and grieving survivors managed to piece together fragments of vitality, their vitality, so that the light of humanity could shine once more. Not wishing to seek revenge for a crime without parallel, the heart chose reconstruction: parents and children under the skies of their absent ones; biographies marked by wounds; communities haunted at all times by their loss.