Child Holocaust Survivor: Whoopi Goldberg's Remarks "Careless" and "Saddening"

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tags: Jewish history, racism, Holocaust history, Whoopi Goldberg

Joan Salter is a child survivor of the Holocaust. She regularly shares her story in schools across the UK and was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2018 for her services to Holocaust education. 

The state-sponsored slaughter of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust is not only a stain on humanity, but also stands as a permanent reminder of human capacity for unspeakable cruelty.

This is why I have watched Whoopi Goldberg's assertions about the Holocaust with sadness. Sadness because of the carelessness of her words about such a traumatic issue for Jewish people like myself. Sadness because it betrays a lack of understanding of the greatest crime of modern times. Sadness because it shows that even the most celebrated among us are not immune to making ill-advised remarks about the Holocaust.

I do not believe that Goldberg was deliberately seeking to distort the Holocaust. I find it unfortunate, however, that her comments represent a futile attempt to oversimplify a very complicated situation -- the annihilation of an entire group of people, the Jews -- in racial terms.

The reality is that Nazis declared Jews and other groups like the Romani and Sinti as inferior to their own supposedly superior "Aryan race." In the years leading to the Holocaust, Nazis referred to Jews as "rats." And it is for this one reason that Jews were targeted for destruction. Six million of my people were murdered simply for who they were.

In Nazi ideology, if you were born a Jew, you were condemned to die. Not for anything you had done or not done, no matter how young or old, good or bad, you were. There is evidence all around us that hostility based on identity has not gone away in the intervening decades. And at a time when the world is increasingly vulnerable to divisions and prejudices, Goldberg's remarks are a clear signal that the annual Holocaust Memorial Day reminder of the fragility of civilization -- commemorated last week --- is necessary for us all. Goldberg's comments strengthen my resolve as a Holocaust survivor to ensure that the work of organizations like the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust continues.

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