Fort McCoy News May 12, 2017

Post community remembers Holocaust

during Days of Remembrance event

BY AIMEE MALONE
Public Affairs Staff

Fort McCoy community members reflected on the Holocaust and the lessons that can be learned from it during the Holocaust Days of Remembrance event April 24 at McCoy's Community Center.

The Holocaust was the systematic state-sponsored persecution and murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. The regime also targeted other groups perceived to be "racially inferior" or otherwise objectionable, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Roma, disabled people, homosexuals, and more.

Lt. Col. Arieyeh Austin with the 181st Multi-Functional Training Brigade gave the introductory speech, talking about the purpose of the Days of Remembrance and about the history of the Holocaust.

Guest speaker Rabbi Saul L. Prombaum (left), spiritual leader of Congregation Sons of Abraham in La Crosse, Wis., provides remarks during the installation observance of the Holocaust Days of Remembrance on April 24 at Fort McCoy.
Guest speaker Rabbi Saul L. Prombaum (left), spiritual leader of
Congregation Sons of Abraham in La Crosse, Wis., provides remarks
during the installation observance of the Holocaust Days of Remembrance
on April 24 at Fort McCoy.
Photo by Scott T. Sturkol


Lt. Col. Arieyeh J. Austin, commander of the 1st Battalion, 310th Brigade Engineer Battalion, provides opening remarks during the observance.
Lt. Col. Arieyeh J. Austin, commander of the 1st Battalion, 310th Brigade
Engineer Battalion, provides opening remarks during the observance.

Photo by Scott T. Sturkol

"Today, we do not glorify the past. We do not reflect with awe or admiration on the capability for strength, justice, or unity," Austin said. "We lower our heads in contemplation of what was and, unfortunately, what still is."

Rabbi Simcha Prombaum of the Congregation Sons of Abraham in La Crosse, Wis., was the guest speaker. He said that while he wasn't old enough to be a Holocaust survivor, he was part of the same generation as survivors' children. As the number of World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors dwindles, he said, educators have begun debating about how to make sure future generations understand and remember the horrors of the Holocaust.

"What are we going to do when the direct contact with survivors is gone?" Prombaum asked. "What's it going to be like to teach about the Holocaust when you don't have a firsthand, direct contact?"

The answer lies, he said, in a quote from Holocaust survivor and human-rights activist Elie Wiesel: "Whoever listens to a witness becomes a witness."

Prombaum shared other quotes from Wiesel, whom he met several times and had the chance to talk with.

"I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead," Wiesel said after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. "and anyone who does not remember betrays them again."

Austin also commented on the importance of remembering and learning from the Holocaust.

"The Holocaust has left an indelible mark on our world. We are all a little different because of what took place at the death camps," Austin said.

"We can never avert our gaze. It was, after all, only the blink of an eye from Kristallnacht to the death camps," he said.

Prombaum ended the event with a special prayer for Holocaust victims and survivors and the people who did their best to help them, whether by trying to hide Jews and the other targeted groups or by fighting to help liberate them.

The 1st Battalion, 310th Brigade Engineer Battalion, which is part of the 181st Multi-Functional Training Brigade, served as the lead unit to organize the event in conjunction with the Fort McCoy garrison Equal Opportunity office. The Holocaust Days of Remembrance week was observed from April 23-30, and Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom Hashoah, was April 24.

For more information about the Holocaust and Days of Remembrance, visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's website at www.ushmm.org.