Josef Rosensaft was a Holocaust survivor from Poland who was elected as chair of the committee which represented the survivors in the Belsen Displaced Persons camp. He is shown on the left of the photograph, leading the dedication of a memorial on the first anniversary of the liberation. Looking back in the 1950s, when there were already people claiming that it was time to forget about the Holocaust, he explained why survivors could not fail to remember. At the same time, he rejected the condescension to which survivors of the Holocaust were sometimes subjected.    

We are often told on all sides that it is time to forget Belsen. True, we cannot remember every hour of the day. We are only human and tend to forget from time to time. But we cannot accept the advice to cut Belsen out of our memory. Belsen will always remain part of us...

They looked on us as objects of pity... They had forgotten that we were not brought up in Belsen, Auschwitz and other concentration camps, but had, once upon a time, a home and a background and motherly love and kindness; that before the calamity we, too, had our schools and universities and Yeshivot.

70 years have now passed since the liberation of Bergen-Belsen and other Nazi concentration camps but Josef Rosensaft’s injunctions remain as important today as they did then.

Photo: Josef Rosensaft presides over the dedication of a memorial to the Jewish victims of Bergen-Belsen, 1946; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Jacob Begun

Testimony: Testimony: Irgun Sheerit Hapleita Me'Haezor Habriti, Belsen (Irgun Sheerit Hapleita Me'Haezor Habriti)