What Holocaust Memorial Day means to me

Today we mark Holocaust Memorial Day, the day that Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated from the Nazis in 1945.


I learned recently, that my grandad on my dad’s side was selected for India’s water polo team for the Berlin Olympics in 1936. He was not allowed to compete because it was deemed too dangerous for him to enter Hitler’s Germany as a Jew. He contested their decision, but in the end was made to stay in India and watch his teammates compete.

So, there is a little bit of legacy here for me today, as a skeleton athlete representing Israel.

In November 2018, I competed in Königssee. Some of you may know that the Eagle’s nest, Hitler’s holiday home, sits on the top of the mountain and overlooks the valley. It looks like a fortress and for me, it casts a cold, dark shadow and gives me chills looking at it.

But then I captured this moment. The Israeli flag raised, flying majestically in 2018 between the flags of our friends - right in front of the Eagle’s nest, which you can see at the top of the mountain. Year’s after Hitler tried to systematically exterminate my race because we were Jewish, I am standing there. I’m still here.

It’s strange to think about, no? That I might not be here, because another man decided that I shouldn’t be?

We see hatred rippling under the surface across the world. Why do these prejudices exist? Because of someone’s race, where they come from, or their religion? It fails to make any sense. We are all humans sharing this one earth in the same life. Racism is what prevents us from making real progress. If you see it, don’t stand for it. Call it for what it is.

I want to point you to a foundation that works hard to battle these prejudices. The Holocaust Educational Trust (UK) arranges trips for schools to see where genocide was carried out against Jews and others who were victims of hatred. Survivors of the Holocaust visit schools and share their stories with the younger generations to give first hand accounts of what happens when hate against a people is allowed to take hold of a nation, and the effect it has on the world and human life.

I don’t normally write long emotional posts, but days like today are marked to show that #WeRemember and we need to make sure this never, ever, happens again. To anyone. #NeverAgain.

Written by Georgina Cohen (Israel bobsleigh skeleton

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