There Will Be Generations

I recently saw Schindler’s List again. Even though I knew what was coming, I couldn’t help but avert my eyes … Continued

I recently saw Schindler’s List again. Even though I knew what was coming, I couldn’t help but avert my eyes from the horrific combination of the intimate suffering of unique individuals and the mechanical precision of mass murder. There are images from that film that will haunt me always: the thin lips of the SS Officer announcing that six centuries of Jewish thriving in Krakow are hereby over, and henceforth, only a rumor; the little girl in a red dress, the only dash of color in the whole film, winding up in a wheelbarrow like so many millions.

And of course, the image of Oskar Schindler: an unlikely hero, who begins the film as a war profiteer. But one day, while out riding horses on the hills of Krakow, he sees the Nazi rampage through the Jewish ghetto. He begins to see a different purpose to his life – what I believe is the original purpose of all of our lives.

Tomorrow is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Last week, I had the privilege of speaking at an interfaith breakfast at the newly opened Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois. The museum is a feat of the local, a truly mid-west initiative fueled by survivors who live in Skokie and their neighbors, and backed by Chicago philanthropists through a decade of work.

This isn’t surprising from this city, this state, which through history has maintained an ethos of creating a common world together. From Jane Addams, who in 1889 built the Hull House that welcomed the unwanted, calling it a ‘cathedral of humanity,’ to the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions, to the first meeting Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 at a conference on religion and race. And now, the architects of this new Museum write the next chapter in this state’s commitment to what King called the Beloved community, his dream of a society where all people live in equal dignity and mutual loyalty.

This is an institution where people enter in darkness and bear witness to perhaps the most horrific period in human history. They emerge in light committed to the fundamental truth: we have to save each other, it is the only way to save ourselves.

What might Oskar Schindler think of all this?

When the trains started running from Krakow to Auschwitz, he spent a good part of his fortune purchasing his Jewish workers from the Nazi officials and sending them to his new factory in Czechoslovakia. He spent the rest of his fortune making sure that factory failed to produce a single item that contributed to the Nazi war effort.

And when the war was over, and Schindler prepared to make his escape, he wept for not doing enough. He said “I could have saved two more lives with this watch. I could have saved ten more with this car.”

The response came from his soft-spoken and stoic accountant, Itzhak Stern. “There will be generations because of you.”

Let that be the legacy of this new institution and all who helped create it: that when visitors exit, they will each ask what more they can do. Because I have no doubt that the halls of this museum will produce generations of righteous persons.

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  • CCNL

    And the next museum of horror and terror will concern the violence of Islam as dictated by the passages of the koran!!!

  • WmarkW

    I hope that the Jewish-dominated Holocaust organizations will start to put more emphasis on the other half of the people who were executed for their uselessness to the state, like the mentally retarded. Few of that group survived the Holocaust (because they were useless as labor), and of course they seldom write books or leave descendants. The holocaust wasn’t just about hate and racism, but also about ideologies that measured human life in terms of its usefulness to the powerful.

  • INGOODFAITH

    Mr. Patel & CO.;Al ISLAM, via WAHABI Saudi Arabia & CO., {Vanguards of the KABBA & Al AQSA Dome in Jerusalem & now via a Islamic Pakistan, whom Stole Land big chunks of Landa from peaceful INDIA & now hath a “Sunni-Bomb” to threaten Us with} Should Build a “ZOROASTRIAN MEMORIAL MUSEUM” for All the World to respect via ISLAM’s Mass Murderings & Ethnic Cleansings of Millions of PERSIAN {Pre Islamic IRAN} & for the Mass Murdering committed by Ye Turkish SULTANites @ World War One & for Atricity’s committed in World War Two & Therefrom to Now!Build a “SHOAH” “HOLOCAUSTS” “MASSACRES” “ETHNIC CLEANSING” … for;Massacre & Conversion of Idol worshipping GAZA PALISTINIAN’s {pbu them} & JERUSALEM Jews & the Diasporah’s after Muhammad’s Death 632 AD. & DHIMItization 637! And For Saudi/Beduins Invasion of Persia thereto etc..!Massacre & Conversion of Idol worshipping GAZA PALISTINIAN’s {pbu them} & JERUSALEM Jews & the Diasporah’s after Muhammad’s Death 632 AD. & DHIMItization 637!?? GREEKS {pbu them et al} 1.25 Million forcefully converted & Killed With help of Islam SULTAN’s & Christian Hitler & during Islams invasion of Old Europe to Cardoba Spain! i.e., See Greek “N. CYPRUS” Stolen by Islamic Turkey & CO.?ARMENIANS [pbu them et al] a Million Plus forcefully converted & or killed in vain!? For; AZERBIJANI’s {pbu them et al} 2 Million Plus Killed in vain!? For; HINDU’s {pbu them et al} 1+ Million Killed; for;Mass Murderings & mass Conversions of Jungle Worshiping MALAYSIA & INDONESIANS!? ……….. Please fillin the blanks.Thank{a}Shame!