PLATTSBURGH — Nearly 67 years have passed since the victory of the Allied forces.
Yet the specter of the Holocaust continues to pollute the world of the living, said Dr. Jonathan Slater, associate professor of public relations in the Center for Communication and Journalism at Plattsburgh State.
He wondered if it was possible to forget the sadistic torture, enslavement and murder of innocents.
“Every child gunned down tears at our hearts,” he said, speaking at Temple Beth Israel during Plattsburgh State’s annual Days of Remembrance program commemorating the Holocaust.
“This afternoon we will hear the voices of those who could not speak above the roar of hate.”
The theme of this year’s remembrance was “Voices of the Holocaust,” which was underscored by two presentations – “Voices of Hate: Radio’s Role in the Holocaust,” by Plattsburgh State student Scott Henkel, and “Silenced Voices: The Murdered Children of France,” performed by student Tess Buscema and company.
The letters read told of children, on their way to their deaths, reflecting on their lives, dreams and fears, telling loved ones to remain strong and wondering if they will see them again. One child asked that her parents be sent back to her, while another described how thin he got as his strength faded.
More than one million Jewish children were killed during the Holocaust.
Henkle described how radio can be used to manipulate the emotions of society and how the Nazis mastered the art of propaganda through its use, even subsidizing the production of inexpensive radio sets that could not receive foreign broadcasts.
“Once the German people had their radios, it was only a matter of delivering the message,” Henkle said.
The Nazis undertook misinformation campaigns and planted stories, for example, to incite hate for the Polish and justify an invasion.
Those at the April 19 remembrance sat in silence, listening to the stories of the Holocaust.
Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust and created the Holocaust Museum as a permanent living memorial to the victims.
The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of roughly six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.
The Nazis came into power in Germany in early 1933, believing Germans were racially superior and that Jews were inferior and a threat to the German racial community.
The Nazis also targeted Gypsies, the disabled, some Slavic peoples, communists, socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals.
Jews were the regime’s primary targets, although the Nazis also killed some 200,000 Gypsies and at least 200,000 mentally or physically disabled people.
The Nazis’ homicidal reign, when factoring in all groups persecuted, claimed an estimated 11 million and 17 million victims — not counting those killed in the world war.
The Jewish victims were killed in concentration camps, through shootings, medical experiments and in a variety of other ways as the Nazis carried out the “Final Solution.”
“When we face an atrocity such as the Holocaust, we come to a point where words fail us,” said Temple Beth Israel Rabbi Emma Gottlieb.