A group of forty-eight trade union members, fast-food workers, homeless individuals, faith leaders, and farmer and rural advocates attended the “Auschwitz: Not Long Ago, Not Far Away” exhibition at the Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri.
After spending more than two hours at the memorial, they went to St. Mark’s Hope and Peace Lutheran Church to discuss what they saw. Rabbi Doug Alpert of Kol Ami synagogue and Leonard Zeskind from IREHR spoke.
Zeskind talked about how Hitler had studied Jim Crow segregation before writing the Nuremberg Laws, how Henry Ford had received Hitler’s award, how the German Bund had organized 20,000 to attend a pro-Hitler rally at Madison Square Garden, and how resistance by Jews in Warsaw had lasted longer than the Polish Army.
One 62-year-old fast-food worker reported with dismay that she “had no memory of learning about the Holocaust” before. Another fast-food worker talked about the resistors in Germany. “Here was a group of college-age students who risked their lives,” and many were killed for the effort. A homeless advocate noted, after learning that Henry Ford had received Hitler’s highest civilian award, while we had joined the war to defeat Hitler, “we were not willing to come to grips with our own supporters of anti-Semitism and failed to recognize the significance of lives lost in the Holocaust.”
One long-time fast-food organizer summed it all up when he said, “We are all organizers in the room today. What does the Holocaust mean? we need to do differently to make sure this never happens again.”
The event was sponsored by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, Cherith Brook Catholic Worker, Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom, Congregation Kol Ami, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, Swope Parkway United Christian Church, and Stand Up KC.