Holocaust memorial important reminder

Her mother tried in vain to cover her eyes so she could not see what was happening, Sofiya Karpovich remembers.

But she saw. She cannot forget.

A German soldier took a baby from its mother’s arms and threw it into the air. While the infant was airborne, another soldier shot it.

Karpovich was 4 years old that day in 1942 when she and her mother witnessed the horror near their village in Ukraine. They narrowly escaped execution themselves after Nazi troops rounded up as many Jews as they could for extermination.

She and her husband live in Columbus now. There, on Monday, a new Holocaust and Liberators Memorial was dedicated at the Ohio Statehouse. It is in remembrance of the more than 12 million people, about half of them Jews, massacred by Nazi Germany. The memorial also honors American soldiers who liberated death camps throughout Europe.

After Gov. John Kasich suggested the memorial about three years ago, there was, incredibly, some resistance to it. A few based their opposition on modern ideas of political correctness. One former legislator protested it was improper to have a religious symbol on Statehouse grounds. The memorial features a broken Star of David.

Such opposition is ironic, in a way, because the memorial is a reminder of another time of political correctness. Then, in some countries, hundreds of thousands of men and women who implemented the Holocaust viewed it as appropriate to slaughter people solely because of their faiths, ways of life and even geographic origin.

Karpovich and others who experienced the Holocaust firsthand are old, now. Within a few years none of them will remain to bear witness to what happened. Memorials such as the new one in Columbus will be important reminders of what happened – and of the necessity of ensuring such madness never again is permitted to reign.