Righteous Among the Nations

During the Shoah, the biblical word for ‘the destruction”, and today, the standard Hebrew word for The Holocaust, the Nazi’s progress towards the Final Solution was aided and abetted by governments, armies, auxiliaries, officials, and individuals in the many countries that fell under the Axis thrall between 1939 and 1945. But there were also many, many people of goodwill and extraordinary courage from all walks of life who risked their lives and often, those of their families and friends, to protect Jews from persecution, and to save them from capture, deportation and extermination. untold numbers perished along with their charges. Many survived, as did thousands of Jews.

As of January 1, 2016, the 26,120 people from over fifty countries have been honoured by the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre. These are The Righteous Among the Nations. 

For Oscar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg, and the ‘Righteous Gentiles’.
In the words of the Talmud, “he who saves a life, saves the world entire”

We said “the worst is over”,
When the laws began to bite,
And our people crouched in silent fear
That fiery crystal night.
When they burned down the synagogues
And made Jews wear the star.
“this madness will not last”, we said,
“Nor reach us where we are”.

And we said “the worst is over”,
Bought the optimistic line.
We shared the hopes of millions,
Prayed for peace in our own time.
And we listened to our elders,
And we kept our fears controlled.
And we thought the worst was over.
Until the panzers rolled.

Then we thought the worst was over
When our army laid down arms.
And we went back to our daily lives,
Dismissed as false alarms
The rumours that these conquerors
Would wipe us from this earth.
It didn’t take us long to learn
What such false hope was worth.

Still, we thought the worst was over
When they made us wear the star,
And gathered all our people
From their townships near and far.
And they forced into ghettos
And set guards upon the gates.
We had seen worse persecution
In the history of our faith.

But we knew the worst still to come
As we watched the trucks appear.
And whispered talk of death camps
Gave dark substance to our fear.
When they sent in dogs and soldiers
To cull those trapped inside,
The ghetto was a station
On the road to genocide.

In the world beyond the wire
None could hear our people crying
As silence like a curtain fell
And cloaked a nation’s dying.
The ears of men were stricken deaf,
The eyes of men were blind
As the free world’s incredulity
Built the wall we died behind.

But we believed that at the hour of death,
When all our hopes had gone,
From the ranks of Gentiles
A just man would soon come.
He would part engulfing waters
With bold deeds and sleight of hand.
He would lead a tortured people
To a safe and promised land.

And, we believe
That when all doors are bared against us,
He will come.
When all hands are raised against us,
He will come.
When no man will defend us,
He will come
Into our darkest day.
He will walk up to our sepulcher
And roll the stone away.

Yes we believe
That in the hour of our worst torment,
He will come.
Like an angel in the darkness,
He will come.
When all our hope is dying,
He will come.
And in our blackest day,
He will walk up to our sepulcher
And roll the stone away.

Featured Image, from Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre

Oscar Schindler's grave, Mount Zion, Jerusalem

Oscar Schindler’s grave, Mount Zion, Jerusalem

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