Let’s light a candle on “Yom HaShoah Ve-Hagevurah” Day of remembrance of the Holocaust and the Heroism. One of darkest and most insane pages of human history, where our overrational-industrial age mentality was applied to human destruction and death, making it an efficient system just like a factory chain, including anyone who who felt, thought, looked different, even when those differences were subjectively and aptly created and otherwise do not exist. It is a day to light a candle in remembrance of the fallen, of the survivors as well as the perpetrators, each in their own way victims of an age that devalued individual life, fostered violence under every possible mean and tool and brought to the surface our scariest ghosts.
And yet, whenever this day occurs my memory brings back the last years of high school when, as a compulsory text we had to read “If This is a Man” by Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi, and two things struck me of that book, the first was the total absence of hatred in his words chapter after chapter, simple descriptions emotionless and no hard word or even judgement towards his torturers. The second when he described his coping strategy against a system that aimed to nullify your identity and personality by replacing your name with a number, and that was to maintain routines, something as simple as taking off his shirt, putting it around his neck as a towel and go to wash his face, a simple daily gesture that reminded him of his humanity, identity and name and got him through hell until the camp was liberated.
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