Inspirational Texts

On this page you can find a variety of texts that can be read aloud or distributed during this part of the evening. Please note that the idea is not to present additional survivor testimony. Of course, the author of the text might be a survivor or the content might present a survivor’s experience, but the point is to add a collaborative, emotional perspective to the evening rather than to present more historical testimony.

 

Furthermore, we would like to emphasize that countless texts exist which are suitable for this portion. We have merely presented a few examples to serve as inspiration. We encourage you to seek additional texts and ideas which will be appropriate for your event, as well as to share and recommend your ideas in the Zikaron Basalon Facebook page.

Dunia Rosen

 

I want to ask you all 

Not to forget the dead…

 

Build us a memorial

which will reach the sky.

 

A marker which the whole world will see.

A monument not made of marble or of stone

but of good deeds.

 

Because I believe with all my heart

That only such a monument 

might promise for you and your children 

a better future.

 

And then that same evil won't return again

to take over the world and again make life a living hell.

 ----

This was written on the twenty third of June, 1943, by a twelve year old girl named Dunia Rozen while she was wandering alone in the forest after her whole family was murdered. She was sure she too was going to die. Dunia survived the Holocaust and moved to Israel.

Yizkor

Abba Kovner

Let us remember our brothers and our sisters 
the homes in the cities and in the villages 
The streets of the town that bustled like rivers 
And the solitary inn which stood along the way. 
The old man with his etched-out features 
The mother in her sweater 
The girl with the plaits 
And the children. The children.
The thousands of communities of Israel with their families 
The whole Jewish people 
That was brought to the slaughter on the soil 
of Europe by the German destroyer. 
The man who screamed out suddenly and died screaming. 
The woman who clutched her baby to her breast and her arms fell. 
The baby whose fingers groped for his mother’s nipple which was blue and cold. 
The legs, the legs that sought refuge and there was no escape. 
And those who clenched their hands into fists 
The fist that gripped the steel 
The steel that was the weapon of the vision,the despair and the revolt. 
And those with staunch hearts and those with open eyes 
And those who sacrificed themselves without being able to save others. 
We shall remember the day 
The day in its noon, the sun that rose over the bloody stake. 
The skies that stood high and silent 
We shall remember the mounds of ash beneath the flowering parks. 
Let the living remember their dead, for behold they are here before us. 
Behold their eyes cast around and about. 
So let us not rest 
May our lives be worthy of their memory. 

 

Everything is Illuminated

Jonathan Safran Foer

Jews have six senses - touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing ... memory. While Gentiles experience and process the world through the traditional senses, and use memory only as a second-order means of interpreting events, for Jews memory is no less primary than the prick of a pin, or its silver glimmer, or the taste of the blood it pulls from the nger.

The Jew is pricked by a pin and remembers other pins. It is only by tracing the pinprick back to other pinpricks – when his mother tried to x his sleeve while his arm was still in it, when his grandfather’s ngers fell asleep from stroking his great-grandfather’s damp forehead, when Abraham tested the knife point to be sure Isaac would feel no pain – that the Jew is able to know why it hurts. When a Jew encounters a pin, he asks: What does it remember like?” 

 

Holocaust
Barbara Sonek

We played, we laughed
we were loved.
We were ripped from the arms of our
parents and thrown into the fire.
We were nothing more than children.
We had a future. We were going to be lawyers, rabbis, wives, teachers, mothers. We had dreams, then we had no hope. We were taken away in the dead of night like cattle in cars, no air to breathe smothering, crying, starving, dying. Separated from the world to be no more. From the ashes, hear our plea. This atrocity to mankind can not happen again. Remember us, for we were the children whose dreams and lives were stolen away.

First they came for the Jews

Martin Niemöller

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me. 

 

THE BURNING Of THE BOOKS

Bertolt Brecht

When the Regime commanded that books with harmful knowledge

Should be publicly burned and on all sides
Oxen were forced to drag cartloads of books
To the bonfires, a banished
Writer, one of the best, scanning the list of the Burned, was shocked to find that his
Books had been passed over. He rushed to his desk
On wings of wrath, and wrote a letter to those in power,
Burn me! he wrote with flying pen, burn me! Haven’t my books
Always reported the truth ? And here you are
Treating me like a liar! I command you!
Burn me!

Between Memory and Forgetting

Berl Katznelson, Revolution and Tradition

 

We have been endowed with two faculties: memory and forgetting. We cannot live without both. If only memory were to exist, then what would be our fate? We would be crushed beneath the yoke of the memories. We would become slaves to our memories, to our ancestors. Our countenance would then be a mere copy of earlier generations. And if we were ruled entirely by forgetting – would there be any room for culture, science, self-awareness, and spiritual existence? Arch- conservatism would like to strip us of our faculty of forgetting, whereas pseudo-revolutionism regards any remembrance of the past as the 'enemy.' If humanity had not preserved the memory of its most highly valued assets, noble tendencies, periods of prosperity, and e orts to achieve liberty and heroism, no revolutionary movement could have been possible. We would have languished in our meagerness and in our ignorance, slaves to the world. 


 

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