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Echoes of the Past
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NEVER AGAIN Must Mean Never Again for Anyone By Roman Radziejewski and Aaron Weintraub

     Roman Radziejewski spent years inside Nazi concentration camps, including Buchenwald, under the Third Reich. He personally witnessed murders of many innocent people and the terror of unrestrained attacks on minorities.

     A Hebrew scholar born in Israel, Aaron Weintraub fought against the Nazis during World War II in the Mediterranean. He is a longtime student of the Holocaust.

ovels, motion picture films, documentaries, academic papers, history books and newspaper articles in the thousands have ensured that the crimes of Nazi Germany are not forgotten.

     But what does this mean after 50 years or more?

     To those remaining few of us who survived, there is something more important than remembrance. It is the recognition that although the Nazis were stopped in 1945, the hatred and intolerance that fueled their genocide was not. A police state driven by evil may be stopped by force, but evil itself may persist.

     We are facing a generation today in Germany which has grown up to slogans of “never again fascism, never again war.” Yet as every day goes by we are faced with irresistible evidence that the wheels of prejudice are again turning inexorably towards disaster. And once again, exactly as occurred in the 1930s, the evidence is denied, justified, explained, analyzed—but not confronted.

     If nothing was learned from the events that made it possible for a people to embark upon the planned genocide of an entire race, what is the value of memories?

     There are still some of us who remember the time before the outward murders began. It did not happen overnight. For years the German presses churned out propaganda reviling the Jewish people with lies, defiling their beliefs, and blaming them for all the problems of the State.

     Then the assaults began. Usually the authorities turned a blind eye. Often they were involved. The violent hordes were filled with people who would later claim they “did not know” what was happening.

     We have chosen to speak out in this article and express our opinions because attempts by the German authorities to convince the world that the chant of “never again” is anything but empty rhetoric is becoming increasingly obscene. Too much of the current rising tide of hatred is once again sanctioned by those in authority.

     Between 1991 and 1994 the number of criminal anti-Semitic acts committed in Germany increased by almost 400 percent. During the same period, violent assaults—many fatal—have escalated against immigrants and ethnic and religious minorities.

     To ask where were the police is often foolhardy. Too often they are standing by and watching as minorities are beaten unconscious by thugs wearing neo-Nazi attire.

     Where is the German government? Regrettably, there is compelling evidence that many German officials share the views of the neo-Nazis. In the 1930s, it would have been impossible to set the stage for Hitler’s rise without the assistance of laws which made Jews and other minorities second-class citizens in Germany. Today, German officials are again publicly proclaiming their support for laws which discriminate against minorities.

     And exactly as it was in the 1930s, the German press is on the scene—contributing to the rising hatred with knowingly false stories which practically beg their readers to commit acts of violence against minorities.

     The time to stop the tide of intolerance in modern Germany is now. And the only force that will stop it is the German people. It will never again be permissible to hide behind the excuse that “we didn’t know.”

     Every act of hatred or discrimination must be met by protest from German citizens—and citizens of democratic countries everywhere. Every news article that engenders hate against a religious or ethnic minority must receive a flood of protest letters from those who value democracy, no matter their affiliation or creed, no matter where they live.

     As Jews, we feel the slogan “Never Again” must mean never again for anyone. It is not enough to only fight or object to anti-Semitism; there is a duty to speak out, knowing what we know and having seen what we have seen, no matter who is the target of oppression.

     The similarities between Germany today and Germany of the 1930s cannot be overstated. The signs were ignored then. We must not ignore them now.

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