“Legend has it that an encounter took place between King Christian X of Denmark and a Nazi officer shortly after the occupation of the Danish capital in April 1940. It is said that when the King looked out the window of the palace and saw the Nazi flag with its swastika flying over the roofs of the government buildings, he called for a meeting with the commander of the occupying forces.
The King requested the flag be removed. The Nazi officer refused.
King Christian walked a few feet away, and spent some moments in thought. He approached the officer once more.
“And what will you do if I send a soldier to take it down?”
“I will have him shot,” the officer replied.
“I don’t believe you will,” said the King quietly, “when you see the soldier I send.”
The officer demanded that the sovereign explain himself.
King Christian said, “I will be the soldier.”
The flag came down within the day.”
The Art of Possiblity.
Today, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, we remember the millions of innocent lives that were vanquished in the most vivid act of human cruelty of the 20th century. Unfortunately, though we have since entered the 21st century, genocide still rages around the world. It rages in the Darfur region of the Sudan, where radical Islamic militias and an extremist Arab government has waged a war of ethnic cleansing against the “inferior” African citizens of Darfur. It rages in Syria, where a desperate dictator has used chemical weapons against his own people. It rages in the Middle East, where a tyrannical ISIS movement is systematically torturing and murdering all those in it’s path that do not subscribe to it’s definition of Islam.
It is easy to look at the world today and say that nothing has changed, apathy is the status quo, and that nothing has been learned. But I choose to see things differently. This century and the one before it have seen countless people who refused to accept the status quo, and who fought bravely against injustice. People like Martin Luther King Jr., who risked and lost his life in a speech he was warned not to give, because he felt the message was more important than his life. In each of us is a spark, a spark that we can use to light the paths of those we meet along our journey. Just as a single candle in the Children’s memorial in Jerusalem is multiplied to infinity in all directions in countless reflections, so too can a single person shine a great light that shines brightly in the darkness. There were, are, and always will be those whose passion moves them to act without fear of consequence. People who are willing to be the change they wish to see in the world, regardless of the cost. People who, like extinguished stars in far off galaxies, shined so brightly through their actions that generations to come will see the light that they exuded, though they are no longer here.
Today I remember the resistance fighters led by the Bielski brothers in the forests of Poland, who risked torture and death in their choice to fight rather than go as lambs to the slaughter, and in so doing saved over 1200 lives. Today I remember Hannah Senesh, who parachuted into occupied Hungary, where she was executed for attempting to rescue Jews being deported to the Auschwitz death camp. Today I remember the brave resistance fighters at the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, who sent a message to the Nazis that their lives were not cheap, and fought to the last man, woman, and child in a fight they knew they could never win. Today, I remember the righteous gentiles, who risked their own lives and those of their families rather than submit to the unjust demands placed upon them by the Nazis that they turn over their neighbors. Today I remember the King of Denmark, who in another act of bravery, after being told that all Jews in his Kingdom must wear Jewish stars, told his fellow citizens that all Danes were equal, and that he would wear a star and expected all loyal Danes to do the same. Today I remember the millions of people who never found the courage to stand up to the seemingly insurmountable Nazi war machine, but who were wiped out without cause and without mercy. Today, and everyday, I remember that finally, after thousands of years, we have our own state, a Jewish state, and a brave and moral army that stands watch over her borders and over her people. Today, and everyday, I am grateful and humbled to have had the honor and privilege to serve in the Israel Defense Force, and to defend the state that was given to us in the wake of the tragedy of the Holocaust.
May we never forget the boundless nature of human cruelty, nor the equally dangerous threat of apathy, that together made the Holocaust possible, and turned learned, decent people into monsters and bystanders that empowered them. And may we never turn a blind eye to injustice, regardless of where it occurs or who against.
If you are moved to do so, I would ask you to make a donation in honor of the six million to the fund to end Genocide, so that together, we can ensure that “Never Again” means “Never Again for Anyone.”