Never Forget

The phrase “never forget” is regularly stated when referring to the epic trauma that is the Holocaust. The calling to “never forget” is entrenched in the hearts and minds of all Jewish people and a cry to humanity at large. When we say “never forget” what are we on a mission and pledging to do?

The easy answer to why we say “never forget” is associated with the victims of the Holocaust. During the Holocaust, six million Jewish people and over five million persons of non-Jewish faith were murdered by the Nazi German regime. Of course, the phrase “never forget” is a call to remember these victims and the generations of persons that were forever damaged and lost as a result.

However, the call to remember the murdered victims only scratches the surface of what we must “never forget”. The core of what is being plead is to “never forget” the world and factors that made the Holocaust possible and the understanding that we are never safe from history repeating itself. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. It is not enough to remember the victims, we must forever be mindful of how a series of steps, in a world that is desperate and lost, can lead to horrific consequences. So, what must we understand?

  1. Jewish people are uniquely targeted and vulnerable.
  2. All Jewish people are not the same and should not be collectively blamed for any wrongdoing of a particular community member or government authority.
  3. When groups are disadvantaged and “low”, they want to blame something/someone.
  4. Small steps/acts of antisemitism cannot be viewed in isolation. There is a trend and a build in antisemitism that will result in the sum/consequence being larger than its parts. Antisemitism works on an exponential growth scale; it is not a linear equation. If we wait for a trend in antisemitism to reach a scale of “community harm” it is too late to stem the tide.
  5. Silence to acts of antisemitism is not an option. To be a friend to the Jewish people and stop antisemitism takes courage and will forever be received with love. 
  6. Ignorance is not bliss. The Holocaust could not have happened without good people ignoring, either intentionally or unintentionally, the risks to their Jewish neighbours. Righteous Among the Nations is a tribute to non-Jewish individuals who have been honoured by Yad Vashem, Isarel’s Holocaust memorial, for risking their lives to aid Jews during the Holocaust. The Righteous are forever woven into the fabric of the Jewish people.
  7. The Holocaust can happen anywhere. The German people were not uniquely bad or evil. If it happened in Germany (who now has some of the most stringent laws against antisemitism) it can happen anywhere.
  8. We cannot rely on others to stop the Holocaust from happening again. A poem of protest states the following: First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
  9. We desperately need our non-Jewish brothers and sisters to be on guard and route out antisemitism on all levels.
  10. Only through positively performing 1-9 can we “never forget”.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, December 10, 1986

“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.

Elie Wiesel, Night, p. 32

Written by

Jeffrey is a trial lawyer who has won trials and arbitrations. He has also settled hundreds of cases for injured clients maximizing their recovery. His contacts are deep-rooted in the medical rehabilitation, treatment, engineering, actuarial and other sectors essential for client support and recovery. Jeffrey is certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a Specialist in civil litigation.