The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s “Days of Remembrance” are April 7 through 14. Some may say, “I am not Jewish, so why should I care?” While this observance is closely tied to the remembrance of the Nazi led Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s in Europe and has strong a connection with the Jewish faith community, the “Days of Remembrance” are for everyone. A primary goal of the observance is to raise awareness so we never allow such atrocities as the Holocaust to occur to anyone, anywhere ever again.
As a Protestant Christian Air Force chaplain and Holocaust survivor, the words of a German Protestant pastor, Rev. Martin Niemöller, resonate strongest with my conscience.
He said “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
These are more than just words as they describe what indeed happened to the author. As a German coming out of the 1920’s wrecked economy, Pastor Niemöller supported Hitler’s rise to power at first. However, when Hitler insisted on the supremacy of the state over religion, Niemöller became disillusioned.
He became the leader of a group of German clergymen opposed to Hitler and the Nazis. He was a popular clergyman, and the Nazis could not just arrest him without reason, so the charge was made that Niemöller was not enthusiastic enough about the Nazi movement. By 1937 he was arrested.
Eventually he was confined in concentration camps at Sachsenhausen and Dachau and was released after the allied forces victory in 1945. Although primarily targeted at European Jews in Germany and German occupied territories, many nationalities and expressions of faith were victims of the Nazi atrocities.
The 2013 theme for the “Days of Remembrance” is “Never Again; Heeding the Warning Signs.” To events will happen April 8 at Luke Air Force Base. A free Holocaust memorial exhibit will be open 8 a.m. to
4 p.m. at the Luke Community Chapel Annex, and a luncheon will take place at Club Five Six with guest speaker Rabbi John Linder of Temple Solel, Paradise Valley. Luncheon tickets are $8 and may be purchased by at the base chapel across from the fitness center. Ticket reservations can be made by calling the chapel at (623) 856-6211. Tickets will not be available at the door.