Commentary  Remembering the Holocaust


Xenophobia, racism, and genocide did not cease with the Holocaust. The “never again” line canonized into memorial scripts rings hollow.

The Holocaust took place in a world that was not radically different from the one we inhabit: modern, western, and democratic. There is a wealth of scholarship on this topic, with historian Zygmunt Bauman often at its centre. Bauman insists in Modernity and the Holocaust that the Holocaust should not be considered merely a Jewish event in history nor a decline to pre-modern barbarianism. He believes that the same processes of exclusion that allowed for the Holocaust to happen could still, to varying extents, occur today. Holocaust education can be invigorated with newness by reflecting on how far society has come. What does society do that is similar? What can society do that is different? Teaching about the Holocaust is more than disseminating facts.

The Holocaust can be used as a moral measure of our current actions as individuals and society.

The ability to reflect on these ideas is contingent on the way we shape our memory of the Holocaust, but preserving memory is complicated. To preserve the memory of persecuted Jews, Roma people, disabled people, queer people, Black people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many others, creates a moral challenge in communicating people’s experiences.

We are fortunate to have survivors who are alive and are both able and courageously willing to share memories from a time when human compassion was in most instances absent.

Hillel Montreal, in partnership with the student-led Ghetto Shul community is organizing a Shabbat dinner with Holocaust survivors on November 13. This dinner is open to the entire McGill community.

Our generational challenge to transmit the truths of those who endured and/or succumbed to the plight of Nazi rule is somewhat minimized with the live testimonies of survivors.

We must seize the opportunity to bear witness to the stories of Holocaust survivors in order to preserve memory. You can register for the Shabbat dinner at

—Madeleine Gottesman, U2 student