Holocaust message: ‘We must never forget’

Summit Daily News, CO
April 18 2004

Holocaust message: ‘We must never forget’

April 18, 2004

DILLON – Jews and Christians alike were reminded never to forget the
tragedy that was the Holocaust during a Yom HaShoah observance at
Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon Sunday.

The observance was part of Synagogue of the Summit services to
remember, reflect and commemorate the worst genocidal event of the
20th century.

After six yahrzeit candles were lighted by members of the synagogue,
Rabbi Elliot Baskin of Beth Evergreen told a Christmas story of a
Jewish boy who agreed to help an elderly woman carry a bag of wooden
blocks home to heat her house. As he left her house, she wished him a
merry Christmas.

The side trip made him late, and his parents berated him for his
actions. His father then returned with the boy to the woman’s home,
and as his father shouted at the old woman, she yelled, “Don’t shoot!
Don’t shoot!” As she pleaded, her sleeve slipped back on her arm,
revealing blue numbers tattooed on her forearm.

The walk home was the only one in which the boy had ever seen his
father cry.

“For whom did he cry?” Baskin said. “His pain? Hers? Were his tears
his only expression? We still have yet to come to terms with the

The only way people will, he said, is to understand the facts, renew
one’s religious commitment and make sure such an event never happens
again. That will be difficult as Holocaust survivors die over time.

One such survivor shared his experiences at the services, outlining
the list of people within his family who had died and the
difficulties the rest had to overcome. The man, who lives part-time
in Summit County, declined to give his name, saying he wants to live
his life in peace.

His story was anything but peaceful.

The Hungary-born man was 14 years old when the hell of a systematic
elimination of Jews began in Budapest, he said.

His grandfather was pulled from his sick bed, but died in a railroad
car on the way to Auschwitz; his body was tossed on the side of the

Two uncles left in 1941 for Israel; other family members hid in

His sister was forced to build trenches, and his father survived two
years in a camp in Siberia. His parents were convicted of trumped-up
charges of capitalism because they owned a butcher shop, and served a
sentence in Dachau before his father was liberated. His mother was on
one of the last transports to Auschwitz, where she died.

The man himself shared a ghetto apartment with numerous other people,
and was the brunt of abuse – spitting, rock-throwing and fights – by
other kids.

He was able to overcome, however, going on to become an engineer and
moving to the United States 40 years ago.

Another challenge facing Jews is growing anti-Semitism in the world,
particularly by hate groups that try to convince people the genocide
never happened, Baskin said.

The list of lies is astonishing, Baskin said. The revisionists say
the ovens in which millions were killed were actually used to bake
bread, Anne Frank’s story was fabricated, testimony at the Nuremberg
trials was coerced and the toxic gases used to kill people was
actually being made to eradicate mice.

“We Jews have many frailties,” Baskin said. “Amnesia is not one of

The Jewish people, he said, are a nation of survivors, although there
are still fewer Jews in the world than there were before the
Holocaust. The ones killed in Auschwitz, Dachau and other places
would comprise a line from Denver to Durango.

“The Nazis tried to destroy every Jew, and they came very close to
success,” he said. “And the U.S. knew about the killings and chose to
do nothing. These facts need to be shared.”

He and others questioned why the U.S. and European nations ignored
the killing fields of Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1980s, the
second Armenian massacre of 1.5 million in 1915-16 and, more
recently, the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda.

“Why do these destructions evoke so little response in an age when we
know?” Baskin said. “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat

Those who perished

Poland/Soviet Union 4,830,000

Hungary 400,000

Czechoslovakia 280,000

Germany 125,000

Netherlands 106,000

France 83,000

Austria 65,000

Greece 65,000

Yugoslavia 60,000

Rumania 40,000

Belgium 24,000

Italy 7,500

Norway 760

Luxembourg 700

A brief history

March 20, 1933: The first concentration camp at Dachau is

June 15, 1938: 1,500 German Jews are sent to concentration camps.

November 9-10, 1938: “Night of the Broken Glass,” or Kristallnacht,
destroys Jewish synagogues and businesses; 30,000 Jews interned in

January 30, 1939: Hitler declares that world war will mean the
“annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.”

May 15, 1939: Ravensbruck, the first women’s camp, is established.

September 9, 1939: World War II begins.

January 1940: First experimental gassing of Jews and other
“undesirables” occurs.

April 27: Heinrich Himmler orders the establishment of Auschwitz in
Oswiecim, Poland.

March 1, 1941: Himmler travels to Auschwitz and orders additional
facilities and the construction of Birkenau (Auschwitz II).

December 11, 1941: United States declares war on Germany.

February 15, 1941: First people are killed with Zyklon B in

March 20, 1941: Farmhouse renovated as gas chambers in

July 19, 1941: Heinrich Himmler orders complete extermination of
Polish Jews by the end of the year.

MarchÐJune, 1943: Four gas chambers and crematoria are operational in

December 1943: First transport of Austrian Jews to Auschwitz takes

May 1944: First transport of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz takes place.

August 2 1944: A Gypsy family camp in Auschwitz is liquidated (2,897

May 7Ð8, 1945: V-E Day; Germany surrenders.