Istvan Reiner stares straight into the camera with his big, dark eyes- he looks happy, playing with card and a hole-punch. Not long after the photo was taken, he was deported to Auschwitz, and sent with his grandmother into the gas chambers and murdered.
I wonder what kind of a child he was; shy and quiet or boisterous and energetic? I wonder how old he was when he learned to walk, what his first word was, if he had a favourite toy. I wonder if he had friends, and if so, did any of them survive? I wonder if he had any sort of childhood, if he ever saw the sea, learned the alphabet, or painted a picture.
I wonder what kind of a man he would have been, what he would have believed and how he would have lived. I wonder if he would have become a farmer or a postman or a doctor; he might have changed the way we understand the universe, or he might never have read a book. I wonder what he would look like if he’d survived and was still alive, and what sort of lives his grandchildren would have lived.
I wonder how much he understood, if he suffered, and what he was thinking at the end. I hope someone held him close and told him it would be okay. The Nazis stole Istvan’s life, his future, and potential. They murdered this little boy, just like they murdered one and half million other children. Istvan had a name, and we have a duty to remember it.
On Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember the millions who were murdered, and we remember the millions whose names were never recorded, suffering the double injustice of having their lives stolen and their names forgotten. We remember all the victims of Nazi persecution and murder, the Jewish, Roma, Sinti and all those killed because of their ethnicity, nationality, religion or sexuality. We remember the murdered political dissidents and trade unionists, those killed because of their disability or illness; all murdered because they were deemed different or dangerous. Age made no difference
We remember all of them. Each and every one who had a right to live, they had families and hopes and dreams, fears and worries, all taken away by brutal hatred. We commit to learn about the Holocaust, to teach future generations about what happened, how it happened and why it happened, and dedicate ourselves to confronting bigotry and hatred, intolerance and prejudice, to try and stop it from ever happening again.