I just completed a required research paper for my Judaism class. I mentioned it in an earlier post, but the point is so worth repeating: I am thrilled to be enrolled in a semester long seminary course re: Judaism that is actually facilitated by a Rabbi, and not a Christian. Trust me, the Rabbi and I both know and acknowledge where we each stand regarding Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah, but that is not the point. The point is Judaism. I want to learn as much as I can about Judaism, and that can only occur if an actual adherent of the faith is teaching it to me. Period. I am less and less a fan of religious courses taught by individuals who have little or zero personal investment in the religion being taught. Seriously. I do not want a Christian teaching me Judaism, any more than I want an atheist teaching me Christianity.
I have been to the Synagogue with the Rabbi on three occasions. I experienced a Shabbat Service, a Bat Mitzvah celebration, and a mid-week Passover celebration service (this past Tuesday). In the midst of all of that real-time experience, questions re: Judaism were asked and answered from a purely Jewish perspective. This is helpful, obviously. Too, it could not happen if anyone other than a Rabbi were teaching Judaism. That said, back to my final research paper …
Yes, I dug deeper into Dachau. Honestly, I wish I had not. I say this not because I lack appreciation or empathy for what occurred during the Holocaust, but because what occurred actually happened. I can’t believe the things that happened during this unarguably dark time in human history. The Holocaust was/is an atrocity. I dug deeper into these disgusting crimes against the Jewish people, as I looked deeper into Dachau.
Dachau was the first concentration camp established by the National Socialist Government (Nazis). Dachau would soon become the model for concentration camps to come. The camp included a large crematorium, which was built for the purpose of human incineration. Also included in the camp was a firing range and gallows, which the SS used to kill off prisoners. â€œScientificâ€ experiments were performed at Dachau too. Conservative estimates of the Dachau death count begin at 20,600; other estimate deaths numbering from 230,000 to 238,756. The numbers can be gauged, but a dark secrecy surrounded extermination centers and created a few record problems. Too, many of the people murdered in the camp were not even registered, and thus not counted.
There were countless murders committed at Dachau, to be sure. Too, it must be remembered, that Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp. It became the model for many, many camps following. The total amount of murders that occurred at all of these camps is staggering and disgusting. In total, six million Jews were systematically exterminated by the Nazis in camps just like Dachau. These camps were modeled after Dachau. This fact cannot be emphasized or repeated enough.
I began my research paper on Dachau with a familiar quote by Auschwitz and Buchenwald survivor Elie Wiesel. I hope the familiarity of the quote never renders it forgettable, lest the evils of history are reborn. Elie Wiesel delivered this quote during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo on December 10, 1986:
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentors, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religions, or political views, that place - at that moment - becomes the centre of the universe.”