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An Open Letter from Holocaust Survivors

I received this from the Illinois Holocaust Museum and wanted to share its importance. As many of you know, I'm very connected to what happened in Bosnia during the early 1990s. I know that what's happening in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank has triggered the deep pain which those targeted by hate and violence did in Bosnia know all too well. Anyone who has suffered from the trauma of war is acutely feeling the same. For survivors of any war, the authors of this letter hopefully speak on your behalf.

Dear Museum Community, As the world watches the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza, moments like this reverberate with many Holocaust Survivors. Today, on the 85th anniversary of "Kristallnacht," several Survivors have come together to share a message with the world. Our hearts are broken – but now is not the time to give up. Over 80 years ago our lives changed irrevocably. As Jewish children in German‐occupied Europe during the Holocaust, we experienced the destruction of our families, traditions, and communities. We looked around at a society on the brink of calamity and wondered, "Who will stand up for us?" while most of the world looked away. To us, the re‐establishment of Israel felt like a guarantee that there would be at least one nation that would never shut its doors in the face of Jews fleeing persecution. Earlier last month, as we saw the news of Hamas attacking Israel, murdering children in their homes, spray‐shooting young people at a music festival, and kidnapping people of every age to drag to Gaza as hostages, we felt horror and fear that we had not felt since surviving the Holocaust. None of those civilians provoked what happened to them. Our hearts are broken. There is no justification for Hamas’s terror. Their avowed goal is to eliminate the entire State of Israel, the safe haven for Jews worldwide. And Hamas bears blame for the death and suffering of innocent Palestinians that its attacks and brutal regime in Gaza have caused. All Palestinians are not Hamas. And as we see the images of Palestinian children covered in soot, their parents and grandparents lining up at the border to seek safety in Egypt, thousands more already dead and wounded, our hearts ache for them too. The plight of civilians trapped in a war zone is one that we also know all too well. The world is failing at its duties. People are retreating to their corners, casting blame on those who look, sound, or worship differently. Jewish places of gathering and worship are being defaced with swastikas as Jews around the world are being told that "Hitler should have eradicated all of you." A 6‐year‐old boy in our community was stabbed to death because he was Palestinian. None of these actions will bring about a more peaceful and just world. At this moment of grave crisis, we must come together to affirm each other’s humanity. The only way forward towards a world that we want our grandchildren to inherit is together. We must lay down our arms and stretch out our hands. "Never again" means that we must never give up. That we, who saw much suffering and depravity, must continue to fight against prejudice and hate is cause for sorrow. But now is not the time to give up. We will continue in the conviction that if the world truly takes history to heart, it will take a stand for humanity. And we implore you not to give up either. Step out from your corner. Extend your hand in empathy and peace. Sam H., Survivor of Demblin Ghetto and Czestochowa Concentration Camp, President Emeritus of Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center Rodi G., Survivor of Amsterdam Ghetto, Westerbork Transit Camp, and Vittel Internment Camp Marion D., Hidden Child, German-Occupied France Estelle L., Survivor of Warsaw Ghetto, Majdanek, Skarzysko, and Czestochowa Concentration Camps Sharon P. S., Hidden Child, German-Occupied Poland Ralph R., Survivor of "Kristallnacht" and Escapee, Germany, Board Member of Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center Ernst H., Survivor of "Kristallnacht" and Kindertransport Steen M., Survivor, German-Occupation of Denmark and Theresienstadt (Terezin) Concentration Camp Johanna S., Survivor of "Kristallnacht" and Escapee from German-Occupied Austria Marguerite M., Hidden Child, German-Occupied Belgium

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