Holocaust Remembrance

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Congress told us to remember.

In 1980, the U.S. Congress established Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year, it's April 19.

And so, today, I will remember.

I will remember Uncle Yankel and Aunt Carol. The yellowing wedding photo, his cheerful grin, her beautiful curly hair, the photo of their baby Rosette, cherub face framed by her sailor hat.

Of course, that's they only way I can remember them, since I never met them. They died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz decades before I was born.


I'll think today of Suzanne, less than five feet tall, but a huge presence. Wild red hair, a raucous laugh, recognizable miles away. How filled with joy she always was, despite the number tattooed on her arm, a souvenir of Bergen-Belsen. She died at 98 years old.

I'll remember Moishe today, who taught me how to box. He knew how, since he was a boxer before Auschwitz, surviving three years of Hell on Earth. He made it back, weighing 90 pounds, tattooed number on his arm. Hitler didn't destroy him. He had two sons, a successful career and could still box in his 80s. He died at 97.

I will remember Rachel today. That photo -- a great beauty with dark eyes, staring grimly into the camera, yellow star pinned to her shabby jacket. She survived and never spoke of what she had seen. I will remember how kind she was to me and everyone she knew, as if her own personal kindness could make up for the cruelty she had witnessed. She died at 88 and lies today in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. I like to think in death she is being rewarded for her kind heart in life.

They are all gone now.

World War II ended 67 years ago and every year there are fewer Holocaust survivors left.

Those who remain have a responsibility, to remind us of the horrors the human family commits on its own children.

And we have a responsibility -- to never forget.

And so, today, I will remember.

With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.