My friend tells me that when she was in Hebrew school, the same message about the Holocaust was pounded into students’ heads—and the message was, “This can never happen again.”
My friend’s husband was eight years old before he knew that such a thing as “grandparents” exists. His were all killed in the Holocaust and he was stunned to learn that other children had extended families.
My friend’s mother-in-law still has the number that was tattooed into her left forearm when she was confined in Auschwitz.
I wish you could sit with my friend and listen to her tell the tale of her family and how the cultural trauma of the Holocaust has impacted her entire family. It will break your heart, and will open your eyes. You will learn on another level the horrors that humanity is capable of committing.
My friend is not an old woman, which is important to note because we tend to think of the Holocaust as an event in the distant past, which gives a little psychological and emotional distance. But it wasn’t that long ago—it is recent enough in our history that there are still many people alive who survived. There are second-generation survivors whose parents still literally bear the physical, emotional, mental, and psychological scars of that horrible time.
This weekend, we watched in horror as Nazis took to the streets and committed horrible acts of violence. We heard their Nazi chants, saw their Nazi salutes, and saw the brave souls who stood against them.
We lost an American life on American soil to a Nazi.
Let that sink in.
And I am reminded of the conversation I just had with my friend and the fervor, passion, and pain in her eyes when she recounted growing up in Hebrew school and shared some of the ancestral and current pain her family experiences.
She was right—this can never happen again.
It’s up to us to stop it.
Author: Lisa Vallejos, PhD
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Copy Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen