I was shocked. The goal-keeper of a premier league football club was not charged for making a Nazi salute because of his ‘lamentable ignorance’ of Hitler and the Holocaust. Whether having his arm in the air was a tribute to Nazism or him attracting the attention of a waiter, and having his hand over his mouth was to imitate Hitler’s moustache or an attempt to make his voice carry through the busy restaurant, is not what shocked me. But the fact that he did not know what a Nazi salute is, or of Hitler’s murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust, that is what I find unbelievable. This guy is 32 years old. How could he have possibly gone through life without knowing about Hitler and what a Nazi salute is? And yet the Football Association believe him, and sadly it could be true. There are plenty of stories around of young people who have never heard of the Holocaust.
As someone who works ‘in the business’ (I work for The Association of Jewish Refugees which cares for victims of Nazi persecution), and has spent much of the past five years researching and writing my own family Holocaust story, it would be easy for me to think that everyone knows about the subject, but this is unfortunately not true. However, you don’t have to be an expert. It’s enough just to be aware that six million were killed during World War II by the Nazis for the crime of being Jewish. People of all ages, from babes in arms to the very old. Men and women alike; religious or secular And that the victims came from Europe, with the heaviest losses from Poland and the Soviet Union. And to realise that entire families were wiped out and that is why it is so important for everyone to help remember the victims, because there is no-one else to remember them. It’s heart-breaking. And also, to remember that this happened just over 70 years ago which yes, was a long time ago, but no, it’s not time to ‘get over it’. That time will never come.
1 May is Yom HaShoah when we remember the six million victims of the Holocaust. Yom HaShoah is Hebrew and literally translates to The Day (Yom) of (Ha) The Holocaust (Shoah), also known as Holocaust Memorial Day. Over 30 years ago a project was started in the United States to distribute yellow candles on Yom HaShoah, to be lit in remembrance of the six million. The Yellow Candle project is now in its third year in the UK and 25,000 candles have been distributed, each with a small card with the name of someone who perished in the Shoah, usually a child. On 1 May 2019 we will light our candle and share a photograph on social media with the hashtag #yellowcandle. If you see a candle photo on social media please share it, in the hope that it will help raise awareness and so that the ignorant people of the world (like the premiership goal keeper) can educate themselves; they probably don’t read many books but you can be sure they look at Instagram and Twitter.