This coming Memorial Day weekend, I hope your observation of the same will include a somber but grateful remembrance of the people who died to make and keep you free.
I had the honor of interviewing a Holocaust survivor recently in observation of Holocaust Memorial Day. Alex Hershaft was 5 years old when the Nazis moved into Warsaw. He and his family, along with 400,000 other Jews, were herded into the Jewish section of Warsaw under the penalty of death. Shortly thereafter, walls were erected around the neighborhood, transforming it into a prison camp. Hunger and disease outbreaks took the lives of upwards of 100,000 people during the first year of the Nazi occupation.
Young Alex was lucky enough to be smuggled out of the city by a Russian maid, who risked her life in the process. His mother was fortunate enough to successfully disguise her Jewish identity and survive working in a labor camp in Germany. Unfortunately, the rest of Alex’s family, including his father, did not survive the war.
As Mr. Hershaft remarked, a key element of the Nazis’ success was gained by way of deception, which prevented a mass revolt among the masses. Holocaust victims were told they were being relocated away from hunger and disease. He mentioned that the Treblinka gas chamber building was decorated with a Star of David, and the inside of the building was disguised as a shower compound. Despots, of course, rely on the gullibility and passivity of their victims and the world at large.
There are a couple of movies we discussed for their accurate portrayal of the suffering of the Warsaw Jews and the Nazi death camps, including “The Pianist” and “Schindler’s List.” I would encourage every family to watch these movies to help us to never forget. Also, on June 2 and 5, theaters throughout America are going to feature a limited return engagement of the movie “Saving Private Ryan” in celebration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Historians indicate this movie features the most authentic depiction of the D-Day invasion ever created. Seeing this movie with your family would be a great way to observe both Memorial Day and D-Day.
I, for one, never want to forget World War II, including my own father’s sacrifice in the Pacific Theater. The effort to defeat Hitler and Japan during World War II, and the subsequent war on terror, has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Let us honor their sacrifice.
Relatedly, let us not ignore the fact that there never seems to be a shortage of totalitarian regimes in the world. North Korea, Iran and Venezuela come to mind. And there is no doubt that China wants to rule the world, as it prepares for hegemonic control at the expense of our liberty and freedom. China actually declared war on us years ago, albeit this war has been fought by way of espionage and cyberwarfare, including the theft of our military and technological assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars.