Here is one of the Holocaust Remembrance Day posters.



1) Previous discussions here and here.

2) Seems clear that these images and information came from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Posters featured (among others) Dora Rivkina, Max Rosenblat and Thomas Elek. See also this pdf.

3) Were all those remembered Jewish? Yes (I think). Why can’t I find anyone from the WCJA to answer some questions on the details? Help us out, readers!

4) Were all those pictured killed because they were Jewish? No.

In 1940, after the Germans occupied France, Thomas’s mother enlisted in a women’s resistance group. Following her example, Thomas joined a progressive students’ organization in 1941 and later, with his brother, Bela, joined the armed resistance group, Franc-Tireurs et Partisans. Thomas participated in sabotage actions against the Germans. His group launched numerous grenade attacks, and set fire to a German library on the Left Bank. On July 28, 1943, his unit blew up a convoy of German officers and soldiers, killing 600.

Arrested on November 21, 1943, Thomas was tortured and condemned to death. On February 21, 1944, at the age of 20, he was executed by a Nazi firing squad.

Thomas Elek, resistance fighter, would have been tortured and shot regardless of his religion. Now, I don’t think that the WCJA was trying to make any sort of subtle point here. I suspect they just skimmed through the on-line information and picked some pictures/stories. But the identities of the victims, the stories behind their deaths, and the reasons for their selection by WCJA are an important point in the conversation. Recall Jonaya Kemper:

I found the HRD posters just as offensive. Saying they were not religious posters is bull. Saying that you were trying to call attention to all the atrocity in the world is backpeddling at best. There were no African children or Bosnian children on those posters. Only Jewish children. Not even the children of gypsies or any of the mixed race children that were experimented on and sterilized. Not a single one. There was a Star of David on the poster, and the way a small child died horribly. I take offense at ANYONE posting the methods of cruelty measured on any child, on my door.

It would be good to have more dialog about these posters. The Mary Jane Hitler controversy has eclipsed a useful conversation about how we should mark Yom Hashoah and how we might encourage others to do the same.

5) Does Thomas Elek belong on a Yom Hashoah poster? Probably not. Although usage varies, the Holocaust “is the term generally used to describe the killing of approximately six million European Jews during World War II, as part of a program of deliberate extermination planned and executed by the National Socialist regime in Germany led by Adolf Hitler.” So, Jewish US soldiers who died during World War II are not remembered on this day because their deaths were not part of the Holocaust per se. We honor them on Memorial Day. Similarly, Thomas Elek was treated no differently (?) than non-Jewish French resistance fighters who were caught by the Gestapo.

6) I realize that this is arcane commentary, at best, but uncomfortable learning demands close attention to the details of the symbols that we choose and their effects on fellow Ephs.

UPDATE: Post title changed by request.

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