Remembering the Gypsies of Birkenau

Posted: August 1, 2014 in My moral code, On Compassion
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On August 2nd, 1944 – 70 years ago tomorrow – the Nazis murdered every remaining Roma and Sinti “Gypsy” at Auschwitz in the Birkenau gas chambers. Approximately 3000 men, women, and children were lulled into brief complacency with a tiny portion of bread and sausage and loaded into trucks. The vehicles headed away from the gas chambers but soon turned back. No longer complacent, these 3000 human souls quickly came to know their fate. Kicking, screaming, crying and in intense fear, every one of the remaining  3000 inmates of the “Gypsy Section” of Auschwitz would soon be murdered by asphyxiation and burnt in the fires of the Birkenau crematoria.

We Jews take pride in the horribly sad but critically necessary task of remembering our 6,000,000 murdered martyrs. But, this Shabbat, it is equally important to remember that these 3000 human lives were just as important as the lives of any of our murdered family members. They each had families and friends, dreams, passions, brains, hearts, spirits, individual value, and unrealized potentials – as much as any Jew or any other human being. This Shabbat I urge us all to remember them: In out thoughts, our prayers, our Kaddish, and our discussions and study.

At the hour during which we will celebrate Havdalah and bid a fond farewell to this week’s holy Sabbath , 3000 humans (with as much value and humanity as our own) were – at that same moment 70 years earlier – being murdered by a tortuous Zyklon B asphyxiation and burnt like trash in the fires of arrogant, nationalistic, unspeakable hatred.

This Shabbat may we all remember the Roma and Sinti of the final Gypsy liquidation; may their lives and spirits serve to guide our unending commitment to the words “Never Again”.

Shabbat Shalom.

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