Germans pass by the broken shop window of a Jewish-owned business that was destroyed during Kristallnacht.
Germans pass by the broken shop window of a Jewish-owned business that was destroyed during Kristallnacht.

The world recently observed Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising that marks the murder of 300,000 Polish Jews by Germans in 1942.

This year marks 10 years since Southwest Portland’s Washington Park became the site of the Oregon Holocaust Memorial.

In honor of the anniversary, scholar and author Rabbi Yitz Greenberg and Jewish feminist Blu Greenberg were in Portland last week leading discussions about reshaping the world after the Holocaust.

The public was encouraged to participate. That’s because an important message shared during the observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day are these words: “Never Again!”

Author Craig Williams recently implored that people not be tempted to whitewash industrialized genocide. In Germany today, conventional thought is that average citizens didn’t know that genocide was being perpetrated, that it was a well-kept secret among 10,000 Nazi Party members.

Not so.

“The systematic murder of 6.5  million people was a national effort on an industrial scale,” Williams said. An industry of murder like this would have been impossible not to recognize, he says.

The scale of the genocide also means that thousands of people assisted the system that delivered Jews to death camps, and thousands more looked the other way.

That’s why an ecumenical, community-wide observance of Yom Hashoah is crucial to ensure that people will never again turn a blind eye toward genocide.