Holocaust Memorial Day was commemorated on 27th January and a documentary, Touched by Auschwitz, aired by the BBC. I watch little television, but I was particularly interested in this documentary because although it focused on what happened at Auschwitz, it gave equal weight to the lasting impact that Auschwitz had on the survivors’ lives and on subsequent generations. It was clear to me that some of those filmed still suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This interests me because I can, in part, relate. Readers of this blog will know I am currently receiving treatment for PTSD. I don’t claim to know what victims of the holocaust went through, but I do know how PTSD, especially that gained through years of repeated trauma, haunts you in the here and now. I am also trying to come to terms with the impact my PTSD has had on my children and on family life. I’m just so grateful to finally be receiving therapy, thank God.
The tragedy of Holocaust Memorial Day is that atrocities have continued around the world ever since, under various regimes, and that oppression and persecution continue even as I write. Because such things continue, and continue to be perpetrated by (under normal circumstances) ordinary people, we must revisit the tragedy of the holocaust again and again and again and again, lest we forget.
“So I started walking with him [a German soldier]. He says to me, ‘Listen, I don’t give a damn what you do. I don’t like seeing small boys being beaten.’…
“It was very dark… The smallest act of kindness appeared like a large spark. I choose to remember the sparks. That’s my motto and that’s what I live by.”
~ Max Epstein, holocaust survivor,
speaking to the BBC for ‘Touched by Auschwitz‘
Yesterday I listened to a sermon on Matthew 5:14-16, where Jesus is speaking to His followers right after the Beatitudes.
“You are the world’s light—it is impossible to hide a town built on the top of a hill. Men do not light a lamp and put it under a bucket. They put it on a lamp-stand and it gives light for everybody in the house.
“Let your light shine like that in the sight of men. Let them see the good things you do and praise your Father in Heaven.”
Matt 5:14-16 (Phillips)
I thought of Max’s words and was deeply touched. I thought of how God has shown Himself all the way through my life. He has shown Himself all the way through my EMDR. God has shown Himself within me and He has shown Himself in the kindness of people whose lives have touched mine. I hope He has shown Himself through my actions, too.
I think Max is right. I will go through the EMDR until I have ploughed the field of memories. That soil needs to be turned over before it can be sown. And then I will remember the sparks.