by Rev. Robert H. Tucker
June 2, 1997
I was stunned and, although the details have left my consciousness,
twenty-five years later the stark horror remains vivid. The book
"Babi Yar" told of a ravine in the Soviet Union into
which over one hundred thousand Russians--Jews and non-Jews--were
machine-gunned and covered over.
That book made the enormity of the Holocaust descend on me.
The sermon which followed spoke of my incomprehensibility and
my outrage. Yet, this year's Holocaust remembrance, instead of
evoking that outrage, left me strangely unsettled. I have followed
that disquietude to its source.
I find that today's Holocaust remembrances make suffering
solely a Jewish experience. It is estimated that twelve to fourteen
million people died in the extermination camps (how obscene it
is to write so casually of two million people--more or less).
In remembering the 6,000,000 Jews why is no mention made of the
millions of others who died? Not just Jews, but also Gypsies and
homosexuals were targeted for total extermination. Do we not grieve
for them? I once read that 85% of Polish Roman Catholic priests
perished in the camps. The numbers are comparatively minuscule,
but the percentage is truly horrific. Why no mention of them?
When "the final solution" was being discussed among
the Nazi leadership in the late 1930's, someone said that the
world would not tolerate it. Hitler replied, "What did the
world do about the Armenians?" What has the world done about
the Armenians? And what about East Timor, Bosnia and Rwanda? Such
blood and death make thin the cry coming forth from Holocaust
Recent admissions of the torture of prisoners by Israelis,
justified to stop terrorism, make that nation more like, than
unlike, many other nations in this world. The bloodletting continues.
One person wrote, "The Holocaust ... has also become
a metaphor for our century. There cannot be an end to speaking
and writing about it." That is as it should be. Holocaust
exclusivity, though, diminishes the full evil.
--Robert H. Tucker
2 June 1997
- © Robert H. Tucker, 1997.
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