Anne Notations

Friday, May 02, 2008

To my daughter on Yom HaShoah

Dear Melinda,

This prayer was found on a scrap of paper during the liberation of the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany in World War II. It was written by one of the prisoners, all of whom were women.

Lord, remember not only the men of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us.

Remember rather the fruits we have brought, thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of this.

And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits we have borne be their forgiveness.

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. I'm glad you are reading so many of Elie Wiesel's books – not just in school, but also on your own. I'm also glad that as a hopeful future lawyer, you possess and articulate a fierce, innate conviction of what is right and wrong, fair and unfair.

In 1945, an American soldier (above) gazed into a mass grave near a German concentration camp where children's corpses – including a baby's – lay awaiting burial. This is a horrific photograph, but we need to see and remember what evil looks like. As the singer Chana Rothman says, "The truth hurts, but it opens our eyes." (Thanks to Neil Fleischmann for that.) The prisoner who wrote her prayer on a scrap of paper had greatness of heart indeed to contemplate forgiving such slaughter of innocents and the needless suffering of so many. (National Archives photo)

We must always defend human rights in order to avoid repeating the horrors of Hitler's camps on any scale. Our generation has tried but not always done so well in protecting history's scapegoats du jour in our country and throughout the world. I hope your generation will succeed where we have fallen short. You are our hope.



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