(Jerusalem, Israel) — Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, said Santayana. Indeed, let us never forget.
Yom HaShoah begins on Sunday evening, April 27th.
Today, we remember the six million Jews that were murdered by the Nazis, including 1.5 million children. Today, we honor their memories, and pledge ourselves never to forget them. Today, we devote ourselves to making sure such evil is never allowed to happen again. This is not just a day for Jews. This is a day for the whole world to remember.
This evening, I will attend the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem, Israel’s renowned Holocaust memorial and research center. It is my first time being invited, and I am deeply honored to be able to participate. After the event, I will Tweet updates, and then post more on this blog, so you can track what is happening and consider its significance.
Over the next few days, I will also attend additional events and ceremonies with Holocaust survivors and scholars, Israeli leaders, and various Jewish and Christian leaders. I am very much looking forward to this, especially because several of the scholars here were enormously helpful as I was researching my new book. Indeed, I am planning to bring copies as gifts for the men and women who were so generous with their time and insights.
My hope and prayer this year is that in addition to remembering those who died in the “Shoah” — the Holocaust — we will also remember the four extraordinary heroes who escaped from Auschwitz 70 years ago this spring to tell the world the truth about what the Nazis were doing, the very men whose remarkable courage and selflessness inspired The Auschwitz Escape. They are:
- Rudolf Vrba
- Alfred Wetzler
- Arnost Rosin
- Czeslaw Mordowicz
Recently, FoxNews.com published a column I wrote giving their names and sketching out their dramatic stories. I hope you’ll take a moment to read the whole column, and then share it with others. Thanks so much. May more such heroes rise up in our generation.
They pulled off the greatest escape in human history – from a Nazi death camp – to tell the world the truth about Hitler, but no few know their names.
By Joel C. Rosenberg, for FoxNews.com
To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.
In 1933, the world was blindsided by the rise of Adolf Hitler.
In 1939, it was stunned by the German invasion of Poland and the Nazi leader’s bloodthirsty quest for global domination. Perhaps most tragically, most of the world did not understand Hitler’s plan to annihilate the Jews until it was almost too late.
Today, we face dangerous new threats from Iran, North Korea, and a rising czar in Russia, not from Germany.
Yet curiously, in recent weeks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor have each warned that as we confront current challenges we must be careful to learn the lessons of history regarding how the world failed to understand the threat posed by Hitler and the Nazis and deal with it decisively, before events spun out of control.
I agree, and as an example, I would point the extraordinary events that occurred in the spring of 1944.
Four men pulled off the greatest escapes in all of human history, from a Nazi death camp in southern Poland. They did not simply escape to save their own lives. Nor did they escape merely to tell the world about a terrible crime against humanity that had been – and was being – committed. What set these true heroes apart is that they planned and executed their escapes in the hope of stopping a horrific crime before it was committed – the extermination of the Jews of Hungary.
To commemorate the 70th anniversary of these escapes, and to draw attention to the significance these unknown – or unremembered – events, and the lessons they have to teach us, I recently wrote a work of historical fiction, “The Auschwitz Escape.” I changed the names of key figures involved so as not to put words in their mouths that cannot be verified to be their own. But it is my deepest hope that the book will cause many to dig into the real history of these remarkable heroes.
Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler were Slovak Jews. They escaped from Auschwitz on April 7, 1944.
Arnost Rosin was also a Slovak Jew. Czeslaw Mordowicz was a Polish Jew. Together they escaped from Auschwitz on May 27, 1944.
Upon making it safely to Czechoslovakia….
- The Auschwitz Escape debuts at #11 on the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list.
- The Auschwitz Escape hits #7 on Publishers Weekly hardcover fiction best-seller list.
- Order The Auschwitz Escape today — it’s available now in hardcover, e-book and audio formats. You can get it online, or in your favorite bookstore.
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