New York City has authorized five new markers in Brooklyn’s Holocaust Memorial Park to represent five groups of non-Jews who died in the Holocaust. The new markers are being proposed to honor homosexuals, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the disabled and political prisoners. The person behind this campaign is Rick Landman, co-chair of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Children of Holocaust Survivors. Dov Hikind, a New York State Assemblyman, is strongly opposed to this effort.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue entered the fray today:
Any time a Holocaust memorial does not single out Jews, it is an historical farce: they were the only ethnic group that was exclusively targeted by the Nazis. To that extent, the Holocaust was a Jewish event of monumental significance. But any time Holocaust victims who were not Jewish are simply dismissed altogether, we have another historical farce: Polish Catholics, for example, suffered badly.
Six million Polish citizens were killed in the Holocaust—three million Jews and three million Catholics. Poland was the only country where the Germans gave official death orders for any Pole who helped a Jew. And more Poles were killed for helping Jews than anyone else in the world. The current Broadway play, “Irena’s Vow,” is a dramatic production that accurately tells how Polish Catholics risked their lives to save Jews.
The SS did not take note of the religious affiliation of its prisoners, with the exception of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But this does not justify dismissing Catholic victims. After all, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum pays tribute to Polish Catholics, and so should all memorials.
To put all Holocaust victims on an equal plane with Jews is wrong, but it is equally wrong to pretend that Catholics, especially those of Polish descent, weren’t among Hitler’s many victims.