It’s Holocaust Remembrance day. It’s been tough for me. I’ve known about what happened since I was a child. But lately, it’s been a lot harder to process and deal with. I think it has to do with the fact that I became a mom.
I was browsing Facebook and all of a sudden, on my feed, there it was. A war photograph of a most heartbreaking soul wrenching image: A mother holding her (possibly already dead) little boy while a Nazi aims a rifle point blank at her head. And I only just got a glimpse, but it was enough: I felt gut punched, saw stars, felt nauseated and faint, and immediately choked up. So I shared it, and as I wrote a two liner about it, I started crying real tears.
I live with the Holocaust in my peripheral vision constantly.
Every time I usher my little girl into a car and she whines and doesn’t want to go, I think about what it must have been like to usher little kids onto a cattle train full of people being shipped off to their deaths.
Every time I see a scared child by the daycare window crying for mommy, I think about children crying for their mommies in the gas chamber and how scared they must have been.
When I went into labor, I thought of what it must have been like to go into labor on one of those trains, or in a barack.
Every time my son wakes up from a nightmare and I comfort him, I think of the moms wanting to comfort their kids, and being unable.
I am not exaggerating when I say it is there in my mind every day, multiple times per day.
I want to know what these photographers thought, and how they didn’t commit suicide or try to intervene.
And I think about how this was nothing new. It’s just the Nazis had a system; that’s why they were almost successful in the systemic extermination of a whole entire people. In reality, exile, murder, pogroms, torture has been exacted on the Jews over and over through the centuries; about every one hundred years or so, maybe a couple of hundred if it’s a lucky generation. Peaceful coexistence suddenly gives way to fear, suspicion, and resentment of these OTHER people who are living by our side and are successful. Over and over and over again. So, we’re about due. The survivors of the Holocaust are dying, and people are going to forget.
Not to mention that the Nazis are by no means an anomaly. People are committing unspeakable acts all the time. And we seem to have learned nothing from the tragedy, the atrocity, the horror of The Holocaust, because unless we have interest in the game, we turn our heads and ignore it.
It’s going to happen again. To us.
I sat with my little girl in my lap today, and my nose in her delicious smelling hair and her little sweaty hands, and her weird little toes with the paper thin toe nails. And I just wanted to concentrate on how wonderfully alive she was, how wonderfully real. How wonderfully innocent, happy, sweet, and curious.
My heart bleeds for that mom in the picture and her child. I am that mom and that is my child.