Born in the Inferno

Angela Orosz was born in December 1944, one of two babies who survived in Auschwitz. In this letter, she highlights the perils of not learning history’s lessons.

ANGELA OROSZ guiding during the March of the Living (photo credit: MARGOT VINER)
ANGELA OROSZ guiding during the March of the Living
(photo credit: MARGOT VINER)
My children have always rolled their eyes when I told them that the Holocaust could happen again. Nevertheless, today, more than ever before, I am convinced that it can happen again.
Why is that?
Because the world has not learned the lessons of the Shoah. Some people have, but by no means all. Since 1945, we have seen more genocides. Murders have been committed by the thousands, hundreds of thousands – in Rwanda, in Srebrenica and in so many other places.
Moreover, antisemitism, the oldest form of racial hatred, thousands of years old, is still alive. There are still people who believe that all Jews are rich, that the Jews are too influential, that Jews run Hollywood, the media or Wall Street.
I come from Hungary. The government there recently ran a vicious campaign against George Soros. He is Jewish, 87 years old and he does not agree with the government’s policies.
It is shocking, but we are in 2018 and these things continue to happen. There is a new kind of antisemitism out there. Today, when you want to say something against the Jews, you say something negative against Israel. You accuse Israel of doing the same to Palestinians that the Nazis did to the Jews. You call it a racist country, an apartheid state. A shorthand way of expressing hatred of Jews today is by bashing Israel.
As somebody who was born in Auschwitz, who lost her father and many other family members there, forgive me if I do not remain silent when people say such awful things about Israel.
Of course, you can criticize certain things about Israel or about Canada or any other country there is. Even Jews are criticizing Israel, but so many statements about it cross a line that must never be crossed.
For example, there is a movement called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). They put into question Israel’s right to exist. It really is that simple. They are silent when it comes to mass murder in Syria. They are silent when it comes to Hamas’ human rights abuses in Gaza. They are silent when thousands are killed in Africa – as long as they can blame Israel and the Jews for all that is bad in the world.
SURVIVORS OF the Holocaust – people who went through the worst that can happen to any human being and who were incredibly lucky to survive – helped to build the state of Israel.
We survivors are so proud of what Israel is today. Most Jews around the world are proud of Israel. Israel is a wonderful country. It is not perfect, I know, but it is much better than so many people think it is.
It is a world leader in science and in technology. It is a democratic country, which one cannot say about all the countries in that part of the world. It is the only Jewish country in the world. A place where Jews are the majority and where a Jew in everyday life faces neither discrimination nor the prospect of being looked down on.
Israel is a country that yearns for peace, and not war. We do not choose if we are born as Jews as Muslims or as Christians. We cannot choose our parents, or our upbringing. However, we can try to be fair. We can try to be open-minded, and not full of prejudice.
That is why I want to ask you a favor: Always try to be fair. Remain open-minded. Remain curious. Make up your own mind. Do not put people into boxes based on their religion or their appearance.
Finally, please prove to people such as myself, to all those who think the Holocaust can happen again, that we are wrong.
It must not happen again. Never again. It is your job to ensure it does not.