Religion & Beliefs

Jewish Mythbusters: Yom HaShoah is Exclusive to Jews

On Holocaust Remembrance Day we tend to focus on the six million Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis. We read from Night, sing that song by Hannah Szenes, and light six Memorial candles for the nearly two … Read More

By / May 2, 2008

On Holocaust Remembrance Day we tend to focus on the six million Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis. We read from Night, sing that song by Hannah Szenes, and light six Memorial candles for the nearly two thirds of Europe’s Jewish population who were systematically wiped out by the Nazis. It’s important to remember that Jews bore the brunt of the Nazis wrath, but also that they were far from the only group singled out. Homosexuals, Communists, Socialists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Romani Gypsies, blacks, and all kinds of political dissidents were also sent to concentration camps and murdered in large numbers. In total, an estimated 5 million non-Jews were killed by the Nazis. Civilian deaths in Europe add many more millions to that number. A lot of Jewish discourse about the Holocaust rightly focuses on the great Jewish suffering and loss. The other groups who were persecuted, put in camps and executed are generally glossed over, an after-thought to our own grief. It’s natural that we should focus on the community that is closest to us, and that we would fixate on our own families and the stories of those we are familiar with. But the five million others who died deserve more than lip service, more than a footnote.

Related: Third Generation Descendants of Holocaust Survivors and the Future of Remembering

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