Today we observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, 1945.
As we reflect on Holocaust commemoration, we share the words of Irwin S. Field, spoken in 1980 when he was honored by LAMOTH, but equally relevant today:
"As Elie Wiesel pointed out in his comments at the inauguration of the President's Holocaust Commission, 'We have learned not to be neutral in time of crisis, for neutrality helps the aggressor, never the victim. We have learned that silence is never the answer. We have learned that the opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference; indifference is the thing we must guard against!'...
An attack on one group is going to be an attack on each group and every group in its turn, and if we let it happen, it is going to happen to all of us. I believe the big tool in our arsenal is education. It is not easy to fight the big lie. But, we can do it if we have the courage and conviction to wage that battle."
The importance of speaking out against injustice is echoed every day at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust and was reiterated this week by Executive Board member Paul Nussbaum, who spoke via livestream to the
International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration at Jagiellonian
Medical College in Krakow, Poland. Paul remembered his relatives who were killed at Birkenau, including his great grandmother, his grandparents and his uncle, and spoke of the responsibility to bear witness and the danger of silence and indifference: "We must stand shoulder to shoulder with the new 'others,' promote tolerance and understanding, and testify to the lessons of history."