Never forget Holocaust horrors

Never forget Holocaust horrors

An African migrant in Tel Aviv wears a T-shirt with a Hebrew phrase referring to the Holocaust: 'I promise to remember ... and never forget!' (Photo: Reuters)
An African migrant in Tel Aviv wears a T-shirt with a Hebrew phrase referring to the Holocaust: 'I promise to remember ... and never forget!' (Photo: Reuters)

Today, we join the international community in commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day when we recall the darkest time in human history, when an entire people was targeted for complete destruction.

Jan 27 will be a day when we and others all around the world will stand in unity to remember the horrors of the Shoah -- the Holocaust -- in order to ensure the atrocity is not forgotten and never happens again.

Thailand joins hands with nations worldwide taking decisive action in combating the worrying phenomenon of Holocaust denial, notably by supporting a UN resolution, proposed by Israel, directly addressing the matter. The resolution was unanimously adopted on Jan 20 this year and, by promoting education, will become the new international standard in fighting Holocaust denial.

This year marks 80 years since the Wannsee Conference, in which the so-called "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" was discussed and coordinated. This meeting resulted in the establishment of Nazi death camps, where the Jewish population was systematically murdered through barbaric means, including the use of gas chambers.

However, the Nazi's extermination campaign began much earlier, in the early 1930s, when discrimination and dehumanisation against the Jewish people were gradually formulated, escalating from social and economic displacement, to discriminatory racial legislation, administrative harassment, and finally, to a state-sponsored annihilation campaign against the Jewish people.

For many, rebuilding a life after this most horrific experience was daunting. The psychological trauma of the Holocaust did not end with the end of the war.

My grandmother, who perished in the Holocaust, was forced to give her own daughter to another person in exchange of her child's life. My mother, a Holocaust survivor, was therefore deprived of a life with her own family and was unaware of her true family story until she was more than 60 years old.

As a descendent of a Holocaust survivor, this trauma shaped my own childhood. For many, the end proved even grimmer, as many of such children grew up without knowing their true identity and thus were lost from the Jewish community.

Nearly eight decades have passed, and memories of the Holocaust are fading. Unfortunately, at the same time the world is witnessing an increase in hate crimes wherein many are subject to discrimination, bigotry, racism and prejudice. Indeed racism and xenophobia have become much more prominent during the pandemic, with this including a new surge of anti-Semitic attacks, particularly in North America and Europe. To counter the rise of discrimination and racism, it is of tremendous importance to share with each new generation the truth of our tragic history and the great depths such behaviour may lead to.

Reaching young audiences has always been a challenge for historians and educators. However, we now all have access to social media platforms providing a range and extent of potential audiences like never before. Regrettably, these platforms are also used by those circulating not only false information but also hatred including anti-Semitism. Thus, we should counter such misuse with an intelligent and decent online approach so as to provide accurate and positive messages to children and young adults towards ensuring that past atrocities are not repeated.

Lastly, social media companies must implement measures to identify and remove online hate speech -- before it develops into physical hate crime. In doing so, the companies will help preserve the memory and dignity of Holocaust victims for future generations and help ensure such an atrocity never happens again.

Ms Orna Sagiv is Ambassador-Designate of Israel to Thailand.

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