I am a Holocaust concentration camp survivor. I am one of a rapidly dwindling number of eyewitnesses to the Nazi Holocaust, the most systematic genocide of all time.
I regularly speak at high schools, universities and community events, sharing my eyewitness account with newer generations of Americans who have no concept of the horrors governments can inflict. I feel a duty to keep alive the memories of millions of Jews who were murdered by Adolf Hitler’s Germany and who cannot speak for themselves.
In our increasingly cynical age, it is vitally important to present myself as living proof of that horror to audiences, whose entire knowledge of it comes from musty history books and grainy YouTube videos, if at all.
George Santayana presciently wrote, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is my personal mission to make sure the outrages of the past I witnessed are not tragically repeated by future generations. The Holocaust was a unique atrocity. One of the greatest challenges in educating people about the Holocaust is seeing it trivialized, or used, for political and ideological reasons.
The Holocaust cannot properly be likened to any recurring event. Police officers are not Nazi storm troopers because they wear uniforms and carry firearms. Politicians are not Nazis or Hitler because their policies are objectionable to furious critics. Inner cities burning because residents are poor or mistreated is not a holocaust. Describing non-vegan meals as “a holocaust on your plate” is offensive.
Polarizing hyperbole removes all sense of historical perspective and proportion. If everything offensive or objectionable is a holocaust, then nothing is — not even the real Holocaust — and we invite “the-boy-who-cried-wolf” effect. Idle invocation of Holocaust or Hitler causes the shock value to wear off and people to tune out.
Today, misinformed students, cynically led by progressives, are using school shootings and their subsequent rallying calls to confiscate guns and turn them over to government — the exact opposite of the core lessons to be learned. This is so fundamentally wrong no justification can excuse it.
The book “#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line,” by David Hogg and Lauren Hogg, who were present at the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is a desperate call for gun control. The book is meant to address drug-addled, video-mesmerized, psychotic, murderous classmates, but it misappropriates and reverses the central messages and lessons of the Holocaust.
In the 1940s, the words “Never again” in German were scrawled on the wall of the Muehldorfer Hart Nazi concentration camp in southern Germany, where 2,200 prisoners, mostly Hungarian Jews, were murdered and buried in a mass grave.
For 70 years, the slogan “Never again” has been the post-Holocaust rallying cry of Jews everywhere. It is a solemn vow that millions of Jews will never again be disarmed and defenselessly marched into camps for systematic liquidation because we can resist with the same powerful firearms we might face in the hands of totalitarian government. That progressives would take this vow, turn it upside down, and use it to grab guns is an abomination.
The Jewish right to self-defense was an animating reason for establishing Israel in 1948, where persecuted Jews can find refuge. Still today, calls for exterminating Jews are heard worldwide, and gun-confiscation movements remain deaf to this imminent danger.
I fully support the right of people who suffer terrible ordeals to recount them as they wish in books, television, the internet, social media and in person. They should act with courage, conviction and honesty. Students here and abroad have endured deadly encounters with crazed murderers far too many times.
Lacking historical perspective and sufficient creativity to invent their own themes does not justify them absconding with “Never again” — the sacrosanct call to arms of Jews who survived history’s quintessential tragedy. It is an affront to those who perished, and to the survivors.
I know other Holocaust survivors who feel as I do, but fear speaking out against the tide of ignorant self-righteousness with massive media support. Misappropriating the “Never again” slogan to protest school murders trades on the outrage of the Holocaust, diluting its unique, well-established, seven-decades-long connection to this singular historical event.
Anyone who doubts the Orwellian takeover of the Internet need only search “Never again” to find the Holocaust reference is no longer listed — replaced by pages of high school students marching to confiscate guns and promote a book. These students enjoy endless publicity heaped on them by a fawning media, all of whose civilian-disarmament agenda is obvious. Their architects hide behind a wizard’s curtain.
The students’ proposed solutions to classroom murders are the same tired, failed shibboleths that progressive/socialists have pushed for decades. These have failed to make a dent in the crisis, and instead infringe the freedoms of America’s law-abiding citizens. More than two decades of incessantly demanded background checks, expanded so-called “gun-free zones” and confiscatory gun laws have left inner-city criminals fully armed and their victims disarmed.
Although America’s schools were declared “gun-free zones” by federal law 25 years ago, reality shows us it is only a progressive’s daydream. Murderers and terrorists who plot to kill innocent civilians are unaffected by background checks and victim disarmament.
Politicians pleading, children crying, pundits propagandizing and useful idiots marching in lockstep are not sound reasons for disarming the innocent. Stopping mass murderers is crucially important. Taking guns from law-abiding people is totalitarian — they provide the only balance of power against tyrannical governments. Disarming the public must never again happen, as it did to enable Nazi-occupied Europe and the Holocaust.
I am a registered Democrat who cannot fathom the paradox of other Democrats, who believe Donald Trump is a 21st-century version of Hitler, yet they also want the government to have a monopoly on firearms! Giving Hitler’s minions a monopoly on firearms and disarming Jews allowed the Holocaust. The threat of a similar tyrant rising to power, whether now or hundreds of years from now, is the best reason for we the people to remain fully armed and these students to get better educated.
Disarming law-abiding citizens and concentrating firearms in government hands is fundamentally wrong and disastrous. Our Founders understood this, these students do not. Freedom hangs on these truths.
Our schools and teachers share blame for censoring these fundamental lessons. Disarming law-abiding Americans runs counter to realities of the Holocaust, invites real calamity and ensures seeds of a new Holocaust will be sown in fertile soil. The book’s publisher and the motivated high-school students should change course. America needs real solutions, not cultural theft.
Dov Marhoffer is a Holocaust survivor and a member of the advisory board of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, based in Bellevue, Washington. He lives in Tucson.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the AJP or its publisher, the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.