Holocaust Memorial Day

I was glad to have the opportunity of attending the Holocaust Memorial Day event in Stirling this evening. You need to be reminded and, as one of the speakers said, you need to learn the lessons.

I thought about our visit to Auschwitz a couple of years ago. I found that very difficult – the very enormity of it made any response seem inadequate. In the end it was the railway lines which were most evocative for me. I sat down on them and had a think.

This evening carried our thinking further down the lines – to the experience of the Roma people, the survivors of the Rwandan genocide and the killing fields of Cambodia.

If I was to draw the thinnest and most tentative dotted line back to things in my own experience – it would be to remember how respectably easy it is for patterns of speech to grow which dehumanise the ‘other’. Holocaust is of course the extreme end of that spectrum – but it’s present in the ‘we all know what we mean so we don’t have to say it’ discourse at the respectable end of sectarianism.

Thanks to everybody who organised this evening’s event.

One comment

  1. BBC4 broadcast a performance of Verdi’s Requiem for Holocaust Remembrance Day, to honour the performances led in Teriesenstadt concentration camp in 1944 by a Czech musician, Rafael Schacter, in defiance of the Nazi programme. From early on in their imprisonment Schacter gave his fellow prisoners hope through music. Through singing Verdi’s Requiem, as prayer for the souls of the Germans as well as fellow prisoners, Schacter gave his companions the means to speak truth to power. After several secret performances there was one public performance to Nazi leaders and Red Cross observers, after which Schacter and most of the choir were transported to Auschwitz.

    There was something so potent about musicians from one faith learning to sing in Latin the funeral litany of another faith, to protest their belief in justice and righteousness, horror and hope. The survivors who came to this restaging of the Requiem embodied all that and endurance and the power of human spirit – gave us a glimpse of the God who holds us all

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