When we are reminded of the Holocaust we often think of the so-called “Final Solution” and the 6,000,000 Jews murdered simply because they were Jews. But the Holocaust Memorial Service held in St. John’s on April 15 also commemorated the nearly 11,000,000 other victims of the Hitler regime including the mentally ill, homosexuals, physically challenged, ethnic minorities, Soviet prisoners of war, and political opponents, including many thousands of members of the German Communist Party (KPD) who actively fought against the Nazi seizure of power. Indeed, the KPD may well have won the next election if the German ruling class, industrialists and financiers had not pressed for the ascent of Hitler and his ilk. Nazi Germany was the most heinous, murderous regime in history, forged from economic depression, wrong-headed nationalism and corporate connivance. Still today, companies which profited from that time, like Hugo Boss and Bayer Pharmaceuticals, ply their trades globally. We must never forget that the Nazi terrorist regime was created in the most advanced capitalist nation in Europe in the inter-war years.
The service was held at Memorial University. Elizabeth Malischewski was the coordinator of the candle commemoration, under the auspices of the Jewish Community Havura under President Steve Wolinetz, a former Political Science professor at Memorial. Malischewski read out the names of Jews slaughtered whose relatives live in Newfoundland today. With each announcement she would add the words “and one million more”. A candle was then lit in their memory. The process was repeated six times.
Members of the local Jewish community somberly lit all the candles save the last one, the seventh, representing the deaths of those who did not fit neatly into the Aryan nation. Chris Youé, one of our Newfoundland comrades, was at the service on behalf of the Communist Party of Canada, invited to light the seventh candle. Chris was introduced as someone who had taught courses on world and African history, as well as the history of racism, and as a card-carrying member of the CPC for 25 years. Speaking after the ceremony, Chris said that it was an honour to be selected to pay tribute to communists and others who had suffered at the hands of the Nazis.