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From the Letters to the Editor column in the December 2012 issue of Perspectives on History

Letter to the Editor: Tragedy, Memory, History

Louis H. Blumengarten, December 2012

Editor's Note: Perspectives on History welcomes letters to the editor on issues discussed in its pages or which are relevant to the profession. Letters should follow our guidelines. Letters selected for publication may be edited for style, length, and content. Publication of letters does not signify endorsement by the AHA of the views expressed by the authors, who alone are responsible for ensuring accuracy of the letters' contents. Institutional affiliations are provided only for identification purposes.

To the Editor:

I am writing in regard to James Grossman's "Tragedy, Memory, History" article in the October 2012 issue of Perspectives.

I found the article quite interesting and informative, especially since I am a volunteer at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (New York City's Holocaust museum). At the entrance to that museum are two Biblical quotes, the first of which is from Deuteronomy 25:17–19 wherein we are ordered to remember Amalek and not to forget Amalek. Amalek was a perpetrator. We are not ordered to remember the victims of the Amalekites.

That is a very appropriate quotation for a Holocaust museum for it informs the visitor to remember the perpetrator and, in effect, not to sentimentalize over the victims. Hitler is considered to be an Amalekite, if not literally, then figuratively. But the museum put the quotation up in a strange way. The word "Remember" is followed by a diamond, which is followed by the words "Never Forget." Not everybody knows the Hebrew Scriptures as well as I do and some think (ridiculously) that we are being ordered to remember the Holocaust (which occurred thousands of years after the quote was first composed) and others think we are ordered to "remember the Sabbath" (which is equally ridiculous, but ridiculous for a different reason). And most don't have a clue as to what they are being ordered to remember.

—Louis H. Blumengarten, Brooklyn, New York