OpinionHolocaust & Holocaust Survivors

Yom Hashoah 2024

Never again would humanity let this happen?

My friends and I have been harassed and even attacked for showing our Judaism on campus.

Students from Drexel University and other colleges take part in a winter mission to Poland, where they toured the grounds of the Auschwitz concentration camp, January 2024. Credit: Courtesy of Andrew Galitzer.
Students from Drexel University and other colleges take part in a winter mission to Poland, where they toured the grounds of the Auschwitz concentration camp, January 2024. Credit: Courtesy of Andrew Galitzer.
Andrew Galitzer Credit: Courtesy.
Andrew Galitzer
Andrew Galitzer is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering technology with a minor in product design at Drexel University. Also known as ANDiDREW, he is a Modern Orthodox Jewish artist passionate about teaching Torah through art. Contact him at: art@andidrew.com.

The United Nations established Jan. 27 as Holocaust Remembrance Day to mark the day in 1945 when Auschwitz was liberated. The German Nazis built Auschwitz and thousands of other concentration and death camps to imprison and kill more than 6 million Jews. Humanity pledged “Never Again.” Never again would people be killed for their race or religion. Never again would humanity let this happen.

Instead of a relaxing winter break this year, 13 students from Drexel University in Philadelphia and I went to bear witness to the horrors of the Holocaust. We traveled with a group of Jewish students from various universities to see the death camps firsthand. It felt like we were in another world, but actually, this happened on Earth—our Earth. These atrocities were committed by people—regular people, just 80 years ago.

We saw the ghettos where Jews were forced to live and starve as rats. We touched the very cattle cars that shipped Jews off to the various camps. We visited concentration and death camps; chills went down our spines as we stepped through gas chambers and crematoria. We mourned at a mass grave of Jewish children in a forest. We saw unimaginable things and unspeakable things. We felt such raw emotions and cried countless tears.

Something powerful hit me in one of the gas chambers: This did not happen to “them.” It was not “the Jews.” It happened to me and my people; I am Jewish. These were my great-uncles, aunts, cousins—my family. We were dehumanized and gassed, just for being Jewish. 

I have one simple question: How?

How did people buy into such propaganda?

How could regular people become murderers?

How could humanity do such a thing?

Worst of all, I find myself asking, how is this happening to my people again?

How can the then-presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University, in addition to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, openly say that calling for the genocide of Jews is not necessarily a violation of student conduct and that it depends on the “context.” How can calling for genocide ever be acceptable?

Antisemitism is at record-breaking levels on campuses and cities around the world. The very week my group returned from Poland, a student praised Hitler on a Drexel whiteboard. And it’s not just words: My friends and I have been harassed and even attacked for showing our Judaism on campus. Why do we have to hide our kippahs (Jewish head coverings) to feel safe?

Just weeks after the terrorist attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7, a Penn student said she was “empowered and happy” because of the massacre. She encouraged everyone at a rally in Philadelphia to “bring it to the streets.”

Never again is no longer just a phrase. It is a necessity, especially as we approach Yom Hashoah on May 6.

How can never again truly mean never again?

This article originally appeared in the Drexel University student newspaper, “The Triangle.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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