On International Holocaust Remembrance Day

My colleague at Crooked Timber, Eszter Hargittai, has this chilling, almost unbearable, post for International Holocaust Remembrance Day. You should read it. Jason Stanley also has some very moving posts on FB that I recommend. The day, which marks the liberation of Auschwitz, makes me think of that scene in Shoah where Lanzmann is moving through a Polish village as his guide, a local, points out the different homes where Jewish families once lived. If memory serves, the guide recites the names of the families and then, with some prodding from Lanzmann, gives the names of the Polish families who live there now. Or maybe it’s vice versa: the guide recites the names of the Polish families, and Lanzmann prods him about the Jews who used to live there. Regardless, you get this terrible feeling of dread as you think about the generations of Jews who once lived in these homes, sometimes peacefully, sometimes not, but often uneasily. You think about their gentile neighbors who for centuries longed to see them gone. And then they were.


  1. sara January 27, 2015 at 8:39 pm | #

    Manipulation of Holocaust memory:

  2. realthog January 27, 2015 at 8:48 pm | #

    My own feeling about International Holocaust Remembrance Day is that that the EU authorities should honor it by ceasing their encouragement that the same thing should happen all over again, this time in Greece. Remember, it was the earlier equivalent of austerity politics (a pseudoscience if ever I knew one!) that pushed Germany into Nazism. Now the EU is in grave danger of getting the fascist Golden Dawn into power in Greece should the new Greek government’s efforts fail.

    The EU official I saw on BBC World News bawling about how Greece must “honor its commitments” was a German. Has the man got no knowledge of his own country’s history? Or is he just plain [REDACTED] stupid?

  3. David January 27, 2015 at 9:59 pm | #

    …reminds me of the old Palestinian neighborhoods now displaced and inhabited by Zionist Israelis.

  4. uh...clem January 27, 2015 at 10:38 pm | #

    I knew something was up when I started seeing several documentaries on the shoah being broadcast today. It turns out this is “internat’l h remembrance day”. And around May 15 (the day in 1948 when Israel declared itself to be a state) of each year a whole slew of docs start appearing on TV.

    When I started individually boycotting Israel about 15 years ago, I came to see more and more such documentaries on TV and still see them as being broadcast to engender support for poor old beleaguered Israel. (Hollywood itself has joined in the celebration, too, with many films lately directly or indirectly about the shoah.) As a result, I now call it the Holycaust.

    I’m surprised, Corey, you would join in this PR campaign for Israel, the apartheid state.

    • s. wallerstein January 28, 2015 at 6:06 am | #

      That is a bit offensive. Lots of us lost most of our family in the Holocaust. No one who comments in this blog regularly would joke about the Palestinian Nakba.

  5. Corey Robin January 27, 2015 at 10:48 pm | #

    I’m not interested in having a political debate on this topic or the post. I’m asking everyone to please refrain from any comments in that vein.

  6. Mark January 28, 2015 at 9:11 am | #

    This is a very difficult topic for we gentiles to wrap our minds around I think. Here is what helped me and I am incredibly thankful for it. When I was young lawyer starting out about the only thing the partners knew I was good for was drafting up simple wills. One day an older couple came in to get their wills made. He was a typical man of that depression era, lean and quiet and she was a talker, in her very pronounced middle European accent. In the process of making small talk, I asked her where she was from-Poland she said. I asked how they met- he been a GI and she was a DP- displaced person, they had met sometime after the war. Not knowing when to quit I asked her what happened to her home in Poland. And that was when she pulled up the sleeve of her dress. I will never forget.

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