Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Remembering the Holocaust, to prevent it from repeating

April 10, 2013


Artie Shaw speaks in honor of the Holocaust's liberators during a Yom Hashoah ceremony Wednesday evening in Alderson Auditorium at the Kansas Union. The Holocaust remembrance ceremony featured six candles being lit in remembrance of the 6 million Jews who died during the Holocaust.

Artie Shaw speaks in honor of the Holocaust's liberators during a Yom Hashoah ceremony Wednesday evening in Alderson Auditorium at the Kansas Union. The Holocaust remembrance ceremony featured six candles being lit in remembrance of the 6 million Jews who died during the Holocaust.

“To forget a Holocaust is to kill twice” — Elie Wiesel

One of the speakers at Wednesday night’s Holocaust remembrance ceremony at Kansas University quoted the famous Holocaust survivor to convey a point: that if we lose sight of our history, we’re bound to repeat it.

That was the purpose of the event, in fact: to not allow the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust to have died in vain, but to instead use their memory to prevent future atrocities.

Several speakers, including Lawrence and university dignitaries and relatives of Holocaust survivors, shared stories of the mass genocide in front of about 65 people at the Kansas Union’s Alderson Auditorium, with six of them lighting candles to represent the 6 million Jews killed in the tragedy. The candles were also lit, individually, for the 1.5 million Jewish children who perished; the gentiles who risked their lives to protect Jews; their liberators; the descendants of Holocaust survivors; those with no connection to the event; and the recognition of ongoing genocide. The Yom Hashoah ceremony was presented by KU Hillel and the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation.

“Like the loss of a loved one, the forgetting can be as painful as the loss the itself,” Rabbi Neal Schuster said to open the event. “We come together to remember in order to never forget.”

Lawrence Mayor Bob Schumm said “it is often those whose work goes unseen that make up the lifeblood of a city.” He told the story of some gentiles in Europe who hid Jews in a sewer and fed, clothed and otherwise supported them. Those gentiles had “the courage to do what they knew was right in a moment of terrible darkness,” Schumm said.

Speaker Artie Shaw relayed the tale of Yisrael Meir Lau, who was 7 years old when American troops liberated his concentration camp. When Army chaplain Herschel Schachter asked him how old he was, he responded, “I’m older than you.”

“Because you’ll cry and laugh like a child. I haven’t laughed in a long time, and I don’t even cry anymore,” Lau said. “So which of us is older?”

Lau, now the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, told President Obama during his visit to Israel last month to tell the American people that he and his fellow survivors went “not from slavery to freedom but from death to life.” Last month, Schachter, a prominent New York rabbi, died at the age of 95.

One of those liberators’ granddaughters, Stephanie Glassberg also spoke Wednesday. She said her grandfather’s life was transformed by the moment when upon rescuing concentration-camp survivors, one of the “sickest of them all” dragged her near-lifeless body up to him, grabbed his hand and kissed it. “The power of that little kiss stuck with him his entire life,” Glassberg said of her grandpa.

Jeremy Gutovitz and Micah Levine said that even though their grandfather, Abe Gutovitz, was a Holocaust survivor, he lived every day with a smile on his face. They said he taught them that “life is a precious gift and must be treated as such.”

Speaker Ally Levine remarked that even though she had no direct connection to the Holocaust, she felt it was her duty to visit the sites in Europe where it happened. Afterward she told herself that “the Holocaust is now my story to tell.” As the remaining survivors pass on, she said, it will be up to people like her to keep their memories alive.

Mugabi Byenka, president of the KU African Students Association, spoke about his Rwandan heritage and how his mother was always ashamed to reveal hers. More than half a million Rwandans were slaughtered in a 1994 genocide sparked by ethnic tensions.

Unlike his mother, “I proudly held on to my Tutsi heritage,” he said, before lighting a candle for the 11 million people killed in genocides since the start of the Holocaust.

"If God is ever going to make peace on Earth, God is going to do it with our hands," Schuster said to close the event. "We have a lot of work to do, and we should get started.”


benofthebull 5 years, 2 months ago

The irony is that American troops helped liberate during the Jewish Holocaust, yet were partly responsible for the Indigenous Holocaust of the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, killing millions of Indigenous women and children. Mutilating the corpses of women and children. And this was all to bring "civilization" to the "savages" but who are the savages? Manifest destiny right???

Bob Forer 5 years, 2 months ago

Wrong place for your comment. This story is about the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Your choice of forum to air your grievances diminishes greatly your argument.

UfoPilot 5 years, 2 months ago

Gun restriction laws applied to all guns and ammunition. The 1938 revisions introduced restrictions specifically reiterating the prohibition for Jews to hold firearms, but made it easier for one party nazi regime to gain acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as was the possession of ammunition.

Jews were forbidden from the manufacturing or dealing of firearms and ammunition.

Coincidence? I think not.

ksjayhawk74 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure glad that people don't make completely irrational comparisons between basic gun control measures and Nazis.

Jews were specifically barred from gun ownership, because they were Jews. Jews were also restricted from having a driver's license, court or police protection, serving in the military, higher education, basic civil rights, mixed marriages, the right to vote, German citizenship, benefit payment, the ability to go to bars, restaurants and swimming pools, electrical/optical equipment, bicycles, typewriters or records, passports, cinema, theater, concerts, exhibitions, beaches and holiday resorts, all education, their own homes, radios, telephones, ration cards for clothes, the right to use a public phone, the right to keep a pet, leaving the country, the right to receive eggs or milk, and their own right to live.

Do not equate requiring universal background checks to the Nazis taking guns away from Jews. You make yourself sound like an buffoon with no sense of history.

Lisa Medsker 5 years, 2 months ago

Ah, yes, because limiting magazines to 10 rounds, hindering one's ability to kill a whole bunch of something very quickly, and reinstating the same limitations that were purported under Regan is EXACTLY the same as exterminating 6,000,000 people. Got it.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 5 years, 2 months ago

I think not too. That is why we must remember history, so it is not repeated in our country. That is what we are fighting for now, against out own elected officials. who took an oath to support the constitution and are doing just the opposite.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 2 months ago

I think the comments are good ones and very appropriate to this column. Why should we pay homage to the past yet ignore what is going on now?

Today hundreds will be killed because they belong to the wrong tribe, the wrong gang, the wrong color. or the wrong religion.

Secretary Chuck Hagel predicts that future battles will be fought by small black ops groups and not the traditional expeditionary forces.

Mark Currie 5 years, 2 months ago

We too have our own problems with genocide, not on the deliberate and organized scale as the Nazis, but we killed off numerous Native Americans deliberately, because we wanted their land. Like someone mentioned above, and I don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings here, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but abortion kind of strikes me that way too. I also don't think we did such a hot job the way we treated African-Americans either. The idea of slavery in this country still stymies me. It kind of looks like the whole human race has a potential for great cruelty towards our fellow persons. Just my .02.

jack22 5 years, 2 months ago

There have been plenty of Holocausts throughout history, the killing of the native people of North and South America probably being the worst of them all. But as we're discussing the more recent Holocaust in Germany let's not forget the gypsies, the homosexuals, the mentally ill, the Communists, the infirm, the foreigners, and many others who were also killed by the Nazis.

Biscayne 5 years, 2 months ago

obama's agenda, disarm America. It's all about people control not gun control.

ksjayhawk74 5 years, 2 months ago

He's not taking away your precious guns.

tomatogrower 5 years, 2 months ago

But, but, but the NRA told him so, and Rush Limbaugh told him so, and it's on Facebook, so it must be true.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 2 months ago

That was because we needed Russia to keep the Germans busy on the Eastern Front while we attacked from the West, and then everyone would meet in the middle. An enemy of my enemy---

Patti Lash Brown 5 years, 2 months ago

Was this maybe taped so that we can watch it now. I wish I would have went to it.

Ricky_Vaughn 5 years, 2 months ago

For a firsthand account of a Nazi death camp read "A Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl.

chicago95 5 years, 2 months ago

As someone who actually attended the ceremony and actually read this entire article, I wish to register offense and a sense of disgust with the tone of many of the above comments. The ceremony was beautifully conducted and respectfully honored the memories of the victims of numerous genocides, past and present. Those of you who have closed your minds to any but your own opinions and agendas, who are incapable of engaging your neighbors in anything short of an ill-informed harangue, defile those memories and poison the well of our civic discourse. Next, you will find scapegoats whom you can demonize and blame for your unhappiness. After that....

chicago95 5 years, 2 months ago

Thanks to LJW for having deleted much offending material.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

I said something similar, but the post was removed, despite the fact that it violated no terms of use.

Wally 5 years, 2 months ago

I think eugunieum nailed it with “the whole human race has a potential for great cruelty towards our fellow persons”. I don't think that any one group holding a remembrance for the people who suffered in a specific time of atrocities is intended to be dismissive of any other instance.

Any group is free to organize their own remembrance to people who suffered similarly that they feel close to. Please extend the same respect to that group's remembrance that you would want to receive for any group that you feel more connected to. If you want to represent a different group with a remembrance (or a debate), then go a ahead & start organizing one. It would be far better than taking the lazy way out by trying to hijack someone else's event that they took the time to organize, by trying to turn it into a soap box for something else. There truly are times when if you don't have something nice to say; you should say nothing.

Bob Forer 5 years, 2 months ago

Wally, you beautifully articulated what I initially tried to state in my comment above. If your comments don't clarify to others the offense I found in benofthebull's comment, then he and others simply don't get it.

uncleandyt 5 years, 2 months ago

So as not to repeat the atrocities of the '30s and '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, oughts and nows, We'll need to know what happened. Do we know how many people met our bullets and bombs in Korea, Viet Nam, Lebanon,Central America, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq some more, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan ? You'd think that our "left-wing" media would report that news. Oh, look over there, Stalin killed millions. The lesson we've learned is that it is better for business if the numbers are fudged. We've learned to claim self-defense. We have outsourced atrocity. Stand by for breaking news about Anna Nicole Smith. Wait til you hear about what Rush said about what Trump said about Rosie O'Donnell. The wars are going on and ongoing. Rinse and repeat. Freedom, freedom, freedom, and freedom, don't forget freedom

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