We Jews, of all people, must not be silent over the Uighurs

Drone footage of Uighurs being bound and blindfolded

Karen Pollock
July 20, 2020 14:44

In 1945, a series of notes were discovered, hidden in the ground at Auschwitz-Birkenau. They had been buried by men who knew they would soon be murdered in the gas chambers and who risked everything to write on scraps of paper in the desperate hope that their final words would be found. 

One of those notes was from Zalman Gradowski, a Polish Jew who was forced by the Nazis to work as a Sonderkommando, working in the gas chambers and crematoria. He wrote “I have a request of you: this is the real reason why I write, that my doomed life may attain some meaning, that my hellish days and hopeless tomorrows may find a purpose in the future.”

Today, 75 years on, we read with horror about the existence of 13 tonnes of human hair forcibly shaved from Uighur women in China and we see reports of over a million Uighurs detained in ‘re-education’ camps – the largest incarceration of a minority group since the end of the Second World War. And, as we see the official documents that show a policy of mass sterilisation and drone footage of hundreds of blindfolded prisoners being forced onto trains, I cannot help but recall Zalman Gradowski’s words.