As a first generation American, I grew up in the shadow of World War II, understanding at an early age that something terrible had taken place. My parents, both immigrants from Germany, had barely escaped the violence that encapsulated Europe. My mother’s parents and her three younger sisters were not so fortunate. They perished in 1942.
It is for their memory and six million others like them and to honor the survivors that we – as individuals, as community members, as team members here at Tyson Foods – continue to recognize Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Today concurs with Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, known as Yom HaShoah. In 1951, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) chose this date to coincide with the anniversary of Jewish Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April 1943. In the United States, Congress established The National Days of Remembrance to commemorate the victims of The Nazi era.
This is such an important topic, especially nearly 80 years after the fact. We live in a time where Holocaust denial still exists, immigration provokes controversy, refugee crises abound, and war continues in Ukraine. Antisemitism is also on the rise; a report by the Anti-Defamation League notes that antisemitic incidents increased 36% in 2022, the highest recorded since 1979. While 80 years on paper is a lifetime away, the actions of history are closer than we think.
So, on today’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I encourage my team members and all those outside of Tyson Foods to take time to remember and learn. Below are some resources to help us all honor the victims and survivors.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum offers a wide variety of resources in person and on-line. From articles, photos and timelines to films and podcasts, audiences can explore the experiences of Holocaust survivors, the Museum’s collections, and Holocaust history. I’ve connected with the Museum over the years to bring survivor presentations to Tyson team members, and I encourage everyone to watch the National Commemoration of the Days of Remembrance virtual event Thursday, April 20,2023 at 10:30 am Eastern Time. Sign up is free and registration is not required:
Finally, what we can all do every day is simply confront and fight hate whenever we see it. What we’ve learned in the 78 years since the end of World War II and the devastation of the Holocaust is that it was preventable. By working together and taking early action, we can save lives and ensure a freer and more accepting world for future generations.
Header photo above: The Isay family, around 1934-35. My mother Lisa, top right, and her brother Kurt on the left (only survivors). Three sisters that perished, Martha (center), Elfrida & Helga along with their parents (not pictured), Moritz and Helene.
Below: The Jacobs Family. The family was able to immigrate to U.S. late in 1939. My father became an interpreter in the U.S. Army and served in Belgium, France and Germany in 1944-45.
Left to Right: Top row: My Uncle Leo, Grandpa Benny, Grandma Hulda. Bottom: Aunt Ruth, my father Alfons and an unknown friend.