Today we remember the brutal murder of millions by the Nazis in what has been called the Holocaust, or Shoah, which means calamity. The best known and most systematically hunted down and killed were the Jewish people of Europe—from Poland to Italy, from Holland to Romania and Russia. Others were also rounded up—starved and worked to death, or executed in the gas chambers—Jehovah’s Witnesses, clergy of all religions, Poles, gay men, lesbians, Socialists, physically or mentally disabled persons, union organizers…anyone who threatened the power of the Nazis and their fantasy of world domination. A popular slogan of remembrance, engraved on the memorials of many of the concentration camps, reads, “Never again.” And yet genocide and mass killings continue—in Cambodia, in Darfur, in Eastern Europe. It is a goal, not yet achieved as long as any nation is able to destroy a class, a tribe, a group without fear of retribution. We remember today the lost of the Shoah of 1939-1945.
(as a different person reads each line, they light the candle of that colour)
In memory of the Jewish people who wore the yellow triangle;
In memory of the clergy of all religions, who wore the red triangle;
In memory of the gay men, who wore the pink triangle;
In memory of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, pacifists, and Baha’i members, who wore the purple triangle;
In memory of the lesbians, sex workers, addicts, and others considered a threat to society, who wore a black triangle;
In memory of immigrants, who wore a blue triangle;
In memory of the Roma, or Gypsies, who wore a brown triangle;
In memory of the physically or mentally disabled people, who wore no triangle because they did not survive to be interned in the camps. (white)
We acknowledge the times we have kept silent when we should have spoken; and we remember those who resisted and those who rescued.
In honour of the resisters and rescuers. (rainbow)
(Moment of silence)
We light these candles as a memorial and a witness that we will remember and not forget; that we will work for peace, justice, freedom and life for all God’s children. God in your mercy, give us courage and strength to resist evil in all its forms, even the most attractive and innocent-appearing. Give us grace to protest evil and promote goodness, to protect and heal and comfort all in need. May all that we say and do be for good and not for evil, that one day we may truly say, “Never again.” Amen.