The Conspiracy

‘Get over’ the Holocaust?

The Holocaust-Mahnmal, as Berlin calls its Holocaust Memorial | via flick user Andrea & Stefan

When the paper I run, The Beacon, ran an op-ed entitled “Why it’s Time for Jews to Get Over the Holocaust,” the reaction was incensed. In fact, it was more than incensed. Readers were so wounded by the suggestion that they “get over” an event so personal and so tragic for so many of them that they reacted with passionate emotion, attacking the piece and its writer with all the force of their identity. And that, basically, is what many felt the article did to them: It attacked their identity.

And I get it; I can understand the author’s desire to focus less on the Holocaust than we currently do in our educational system, but I also know the pain of having grandparents whose entire families were wiped out by the Nazis and their helpers. Three of my grandparents survived the Holocaust, one of them only barely, wearing a tattoo on his arm as a constant reminder of his days in the concentration camps.

We’ve grown up in the shadow of the Holocaust, for better or for worse, and for those of us in college, it’s become engraved in our selves. The Holocaust is inseparable from the modern Jewish identity. To tell a Jew to “get over” the Holocaust is no different from telling him to “get over” that silly God thing he’s always going on about, and in fact is more offensive, because it’s more personal. As far as I know, God never spoke to any of our grandparents, but the Nazis did.

But it’s not just the shadow we’ve been raised in; it’s the triumph of the future. And I think it’s this realization that angered so many of the article’s readers. Our people went through hell and came out the other end. And we didn’t just stumble out and collapse. No. We marched out with pride, set up a country, and began anew. Our grandparents and great-grandparents got married and started families, their hopes for the future un-extinguished.

My grandfather walked out of the Holocaust with his life intact but his faith in humanity shattered. He vowed never to bring children into this world, the place that had turned its back so cruelly on himself and his loved ones. Then he came to America and met my grandmother; she re-ignited his hope and his faith, and together they had two sons who in turn gave them nine grandchildren.

We would not be where we are today without the Holocaust. It’s not the past; it is our present, and we are the future.

[A comment from the editor: In other news, "Why it's Time for Jews to Get Over the Holocaust" was published in February and remains the most read article on The Beacon's website. It now has 117 comments and led to this follow-up by the author.]

2 Older Responses to “‘Get over’ the Holocaust?”

  1. Tourlai
    April 19, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    I’m so glad the original author finally explains, in his follow-up piece, what he really meant by “get over”.

  2. David Z
    April 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    I tgried to read the article with an open mind (I actually did so with The Holocaust Industry and came up with a more favorable opinion, though maybe I woldn’t know – it’s been 10 years since I read it). Not only do I think the article can be refuted over and over again (the Holocaust really was qualitatively different), but the follo-wup article is ridiculous. He backpedals on everything he said and claims that he never meant that. It’s impossible to believe these were “proofreading errors” (take the Flat Earthers analogy for example). It’s sad, because there is a point to making sure that our identity and our Judaism is not linked with the Holocaust. at the same time, we should always learn lessons from it, take pride in our coeback (which should be an inspiration), and mourn our losses – I have no problem mourning them with almost the same degree as the khurban. And that has lost emotional resonance over the millenia, as well – so the point is certainly well taken. With the khurban, khaza”l balanced morning with optimisim for the future. We should do the same. Even if the author now claims that’s what he meant, he didn’t write it, and his gut feeling seems to be a more emotional visceral repulsion to people who mourn the Holocaust to a greater degree than he thinks is palatable. Notice how he was “disheartened” by Israeli reaction to disgusting things said by kharedim. It would have been little different if they compared the Israeli government to Mao, to Chmenitsky (spelling?), to Stalin, to Idi Amin, to Fidel Castor, or even to Hugo Chavez. But they should be able to say whatever they want about the Holocaust because of the author’s pet peeve. Jeez.

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