This past weekend was Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah. I read several blogs by Jewish bloggers (what? I'm Episcopalian, but I can't be interested in other faiths?) who wrote eloquently of what this means to them.
Through the readings I ended up on the Yad Vashem site-- a thorough and utterly heartbreaking site that seeks to name each victim of the Holocaust, and collects photos and other archive information.
The photos are overwhelming. So many stories, most of them terrible. As I was paging through one section, I stopped short at a photo of a young child-- perhaps three years old or so-- standing amidst a group of people in a field. The child looks like a little girl (it can be hard to tell at that age) and she's looking at the camera with large, dark, direct eyes and a very serious expression.
Elle could look just like that little girl in a couple of years.
People tell you that once you have kids you can't watch the news any more, especially when the stories have to do with children. They're right. And it's not like I didn't already know that countless children died in the Holocaust. But this photo, with her eyes so much like my daughter's, just brought it home that much harder.
I suppose it is a blessing that I cannot possibly wrap my mind around how anyone could slaughter six million people and, apparently, think it was just fine to do so. So many people did so many things to contribute to these deaths-- from actually pulling the trigger or pouring the crystals, to simply watching as they walked towards the gas chambers. All are guilty. Every death was a horrific crime.
But someone took a picture of that little dark-eyed girl, probably moments before she trustingly put her little hand into someone else's and was escorted to her death. Someone took a picture, and did nothing to save her. And she was only one of thousands upon thousands of children.
Sars wrote today about Bin Laden's death, about how he should have to face those he killed, about how perhaps he does go to heaven but it's not his heaven; he's only there to have to listen to the victims of 9/11 telling him about their deaths.
Monsters should have to face what they've done, if there is any justice.
So for the person who took the picture of that little girl, then let her die? Perhaps his Hell will be having to hold the chubby, warm, slightly sticky hand of his own beloved child and walk that child into a gas chamber. Over and over and over again, for all eternity.