Auschwitz stands as the supreme testament to the 11 million people murdered during the Nazi Reign. Jews and Gentile alike were killed during The Shoah, though it is only the six million number anyone ever remembers, sadly forgetting the other five. This includes Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic Priest who died 14 August 1941 at Auschwitz Camp 1. There were also Gypsies, Communist, Homosexual, the mentally unfit, as well as Jews. And Auschwitz was just one such place that the Third Reich sent their undesirables. Auschwitz itself had 45 satellite camps, with the best known being Birkenau. But there was also Treblinka, Terezin, Begen-Belsen, Dachau, and many more.
Still, Auschwitz is the one that towers above them all. It even overshadows the town it is near. Were you to tell someone that you were going to take a trip to Oświęcim, they would surely look at you with a with a puzzled stare. Perhaps they would ask you what was so special about this place. You can explain that it has the oldest Yeshiva in Poland, the oldest Synagogue in Poland, that it is a quaint little town, leave out the dark history, and they will still wonder what is so special about Oświęcim. The moment you mention Auschwitz, though, and everyone knows what you are talking about. Suddenly, this quaint village takes on a new dimension.
On Saturday, 30 April 2011, at Sundown, begins Yom Ha-Shoah, the Jewish Holiday for remembering those who died during The Holocaust. It lasts, as all other holidays do in our faith, from sunset to sunset. I ask that you light a candle to remember all of the lives that were lost during the reign of The Nazis.