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For Israelis Grieved by Hamas Atrocities, Holocaust Remembrance Day a Chilling Reminder of Nazi Era

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Just four years ago, Israel and the rest of the world marked the 75th anniversary of the allied liberation of the Auschwitz death camp with declarations of "Never again." Yet, for Israelis preparing to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day Saturday, the October 7th massacre changed everything.

Israel Government Spokesman Eylon Levy says people in Israel have always been sensitive to any comparisons between the Holocaust and other historic events,

He told CBN News, "Since the Holocaust and the genocide of 6 million Jews in the Second World War, we've always said that nothing could ever compare to the Holocaust. And then October 7th happened – completely different in scale, but not in its efficiency or barbarity or cruelty."

Hamas murdered more than 1,100 people, including women and children during the October 7th attack.

"It was a massacre in which Hamas death squads reduced whole families to the kind of human ash we haven't seen since Auschwitz," Levy stated. "People who could only be identified in some cases by dental implants or pieces of bone because they were literally incinerated. It was a massacre conducted with Nazi-like cruelty, Nazi-like efficiency, and in the service of a Nazi-like ideology – the murder of every Jew in this country, every Israeli in this country, and every Jew in the world."


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Two months before the Hamas massacre and kidnappings, we visited Poland, where around 3.5 million Jews lived before World War II. It was the largest Jewish community in the world, with a 1,000-year history.

When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, they put into action Operation Reinhard – the code name for the extermination of Polish Jewry.

One stop on our Polish visit, which was headed by Pastor David Pileggi of Jerusalem's Christ Church, was the city of Lublin.

"Here the Nazis, the SS, the Gestapo, the German army, had their base, and it was from here that they planned the murder of over 2 million Polish Jews," Pileggi explained.

Pileggi regularly brings Christians to Poland on tours to show them the vibrancy of Jewish life before the war and the magnitude of the Nazi destruction of the Jewish people.  

He noted, "One building in particular was where bureaucrats and planners sat, where they organized timetables for trains, dispatched killing units from one Jewish village to another Jewish town – either shot the Jews, put them in ghettos, or eventually sent them to one of three death camps in this part of Poland."

Many were murdered in extermination camps. Others – men, women, and children – were rounded up in many towns and villages, taken to the forest, and shot.

Those execution-style murders culminated in a two-day killing spree. 

On November 3, 1943, German police and SS guards murdered some 18,000 Jewish prisoners from the Majdanek labor camp and other camps in the Lublin area, and buried them in grassy pits.

It was part of an operation code-named The Harvest Festival, in which 42,000 Jews were killed in just two days. That was the largest Nazi execution ever. Many said it marked the end of Jewish Poland's thousand-year history.

Today, Majdanek is a well-preserved testimony to the evil that took place there.

Andrew Berkhausen, a recent visitor to Poland, told us, "Walking through the barracks, seeing the barbed wire and the watch towers, was absolutely chilling, and definitely brought tears to my eyes – and it was overwhelming. The Jews didn't sign up for war. The Jews were murdered."

Berkhausen decided the scope of the Holocaust was too big to grasp.

"But when I was at the Majdanek Labor camp today, thinking of the 18,000 (Jews), that's a much smaller number than 6 million. 6 million is – you can't even imagine it. And I tried to imagine the 18,000 and I couldn't even get there," he recalled.

He added, "However, by walking through the labor camp and seeing the gas chambers and seeing the physical buildings, (it) really allowed me to imagine just one (person). And that was enough to break me down. And it's really important for people to expose themselves to this history."

Just months later, even representatives from Israel's government are coming to terms with the rise of Naziism in the form of Hamas last October.

Levy insisted, "We will now be reflecting on what it means for us that the Nazis are no longer the exclusive, ultimate symbol of evil. Because on October 7th, we came face to face with a force as evil as the Nazis. Less successful than the Nazis. But that's only because we stopped them, and we will continue fighting them."

Levy points out that, unlike the Nazis, Hamas is boasting about what it did to Jews.

"And all the evidence is out there," he declared. "Whereas the Nazis tried to cover up their crimes as the Allies invaded, Hamas proudly recorded everything on its GoPros and sent out the snuff videos on its telegram channels because that violence gives violent anti-Semites a thrill – and people are denying it."

According to Levy, the Jewish people now have an advantage.

"We're now no longer stateless and defenseless and alone. We have a state, we have an army, we have allies, and we will continue to fight against the terrorists – monsters – who would gladly slaughter all of us in the most brutal way imaginable. if given half a chance."

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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel fulltime for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and