Hannah in Year 12 talks about how VE Day helps her remember how Jewish people were freed from Nazi persecution and the often forgotten lives indirectly affected by war in the years after 1945.
VE Day, 8th May 1945, sets to commemorate the success of the allied forces in Europe and marks an end to the Second World War. However, for too many Jewish families around Europe the nightmare was still ongoing. The Holocaust was the genocide of the European Jews during the Second World War, and between 1941 and 1945 six million innocent Jews were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. But this was during the Second World War; what about after it happened? The suffering did not stop there, and even though the Holocaust had ended the long-term effects still lingered. Although VE Day is something to remember and commemorate, to many families it is just a reminder of this painful history.
Growing up Jewish, in my community there has always been a small sense of survivor’s guilt. I can only imagine what the Jewish people in England were feeling on that day. They must have felt relieved that the war was over, as their loved ones were returning home, yet ignorant as they had yet to hear the news of the Holocaust.
Many would describe the liberation of concentration camps between 1944 and 1945 as the end of the Holocaust. This must have been the most exciting day for people stuck in them but what happened after they were liberated? Even with a world war due to end, these people had no concept of the outside world, locked up and treated like animals with only a number to their name. How could they know what to expect? In an article from The Guardian in 2015, Holocaust Survivor Irene Fogel Weiss wrote about the liberation of Auschwitz where she was sent, “The Russians came but for some reason left again immediately, so we were left to fend for ourselves.” This was the reality for many Jews, returning home only to find family perished, strangers living in the places they called home and the psychological effects of being cooped up haunting them. While they were classed as ‘free’ and able to do whatever they wanted, they found themselves still stuck in a metaphorical hell.
For many, this was not the end of the Holocaust as the effects could have tortured them for the rest of their lives. Imagine waking up every morning to look at your arm and there was a number stuck there, a constant reminder of your past. Was the fact that they had survived arguably the darkest time in history something to be celebrated? Or does this make VE Day even more important?
VE Day helps me remember that that Jewish people were free from Nazi persecution, and also to remember the often forgotten lives indirectly affected by war in the years after 1945.