Sunday, May 22

Today is a day of solidarity – and disgust

  • Jakob Golombek (21)

    Jewish guide

Jewish victims of Nazism are marked with their own stumbling blocks in the ground outside where they lived before they were deported.

The German ship Danube transported hundreds of Norwegian Jews to the extermination camps. A total of over 760 died in the persecution of Jews in Norway.

Jakob Golombek is 21 years old and works as a Jewish guide. His family survived because they received help to flee to Sweden.

Here he stands inside the synagogue in Oslo. Jacob is concerned with pointing out that the Holocaust did not happen overnight: anti-Semitism has existed for thousands of years.

Therefore, he wants us to do more than remember. Holocaust Day is a day where we show our solidarity with all vulnerable minorities and groups, he writes.

Holocaust Day, January 27, is not just a day for Jews to remember the six million we lost. It is a day where we show solidarity – and disgust.

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Today, Norwegian Jews are privileged to live in a free and democratic Norway with full civil rights. 80 years ago, the reality was completely different.

My family was one of those who, with the help of good Norwegians, fled to Sweden during World War II. Others suffered a terrible fate.

More than 750 Jews from Norway were murdered during the war. Nevertheless, the Holocaust is a neglected topic in Norway. It was first on International Holocaust Remembrance Day 10 years ago that the first official Norwegian apology came.

The hatred is old

The Holocaust did not happen overnight. Jew-hatred has existed for thousands of years.

The Nazi genocide of the Jews before and during World War II, what we call holocaust, can thus be seen as the ultimate result of prejudice, hatred, conspiracy theories and inferiority complexes against Jews.

It can be a short way from lack of knowledge to prejudice, hatred and violence. Racist attitudes in society therefore do not “just” have to hurt – they can lead to something far worse.

We Jewish wizards try to spread knowledge and oppose conspiracy theories, writes Jakob Golombek.

Among other things, the Holocaust Center attitude report from 2017 that over 30 percent of Norwegians have strong prejudices against Muslims, and we see the same tendencies and mechanisms as before World War II.

That is why dissemination of the Holocaust is extremely important.

Because negative attitudes can have dire consequences. It has happened before, and it can happen again. Or as the Spanish philosopher George Santayana put it: “Anyone who forgets his story is doomed to repeat it.”

“Where are the Jews?”

As part of the government action plan against anti-Semitism I work on a daily basis to fight prejudice in society – as a Jewish guide.

We who work as Jewish wizards, are Norwegian, Jewish youths who travel around to high schools throughout the country and tell about our Jewish everyday life. Identity, diversity, Jewish history and anti-Semitism are on the agenda. We try to spread knowledge and counter conspiracy theories.

After half a year in the job, I have the impression that many school students are genuinely curious and interested in Judaism and the national minority we belong to.

“He who forgets his story is doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana

Few have met a Norwegian Jew before. Therefore, most students probably expect to meet an older gentleman in a suit, with dark hair, curls and a hat, and will probably be shocked when a boy with blue eyes who speaks flawless Norwegian arrives.

Previous wizards were faced with the question “where are the Jews?” when they entered a classroom. Our impression is therefore that many questions are answered as we walk in the door, but it is no secret that the most common questions we receive are related to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

It happened here in Norway

Our experience is that Norwegian school students’ knowledge of the Holocaust is low. Unfortunately, many people do not know that the Holocaust also took place on Norwegian soil. Despite the fact that more people pass stumbling blocks every day on the way to school.

There are stumbling blocks all over Europe. The stones are cast in the ground where the victims of the Holocaust lived, with name, date of birth and death. The artist who made the stumbling blocks just wanted us to “stumble” over them in everyday life and spend a few seconds remembering the victims.

The government’s action plan against anti-Semitism is a good example of society at large taking responsibility for combating racism in society. This is an important statement of support for us Jewish Norwegians.

Holocaust Day, January 27, is not just a day for Jews to remember the six million we lost. It is a day where we show our solidarity with all vulnerable minorities and groups. A day where we together show our disgust towards neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, homophobes and racists.

It is a day for all of us who want justice and equality in society. I therefore encourage all schools to mark it, today and in the days to come.

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