Participants hike around the Banyan Tree Golf Course during the Holocaust Remembrance Week Ruck March at Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 2, 2019. The purpose of the ruck march was to bring people together with a fitness activity and educate them about the holocaust and why people should work together to prevent such an event from happening again. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
Participants hike around the Banyan Tree Golf Course during the Holocaust Remembrance Week Ruck March at Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 2, 2019. The purpose of the ruck march was to bring people together with a fitness activity and educate them about the holocaust and why people should work together to prevent such an event from happening again. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

Kadena remembers the Holocaust

by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton
18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --
First, they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists. I did not speak out
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
And then they came for me, there was no one left to speak for me.
-Martin Niemoeller

The National Socialist German Worker’s Party, led by Adolf Hitler, systematically exterminated between six and nine million European Jews in concentration camps throughout their regime beginning in 1933. By 1945, more than 11 million people in total are estimated to have been murdered by the Nazis.

More than 70 years later, Kadena Air Base remembers the lives of the Jewish people who perished under that brutal dictatorship.

From April 29 to May 3, 2019, the base hosted a screening of the film “Woman in Gold,” held a remembrance ruck march, and had a remembrance chapel service.

“Today we gather to remember the tragedy descended on the Jewish people and millions of others at the hands of the Nazis during World War II,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Justin M. Nakajo-Kleinman, Assistant Staff Judge Advocate for the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing who led the invocation. “We listen to the survivors who remember the stories of those who were murdered, and we pay respect to those names that are forever lost to history.”

Remembrance Week organizers also invited Reverend Makoto Otsuka, director general of the Holocaust Education Center in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, to speak at the invocation and prayer ceremony.

“I’m 70 years old, but I want to challenge you once more… It’s not enough just weep tears for the children, but also to do something for peace,” Otsuka said. “The more I study the Holocaust, the more I feel I don’t know [anything] at all. Your work is very, very important, and you have to make peace in the world, and I dedicate my life to educate the Japanese what happened in the time of the holocaust. Why and how, is something I continue to ask myself.”

Naka echoed Otsuka’s sentiment and added everyone can stand in solidarity to prevent a holocaust from ever occurring again.

“By gathering on this day to remember the Holocaust, we deny the murderers their violent solution to wipe the Jewish people from existence. We also renew our resolve to stand up and resist evil wherever it exists. Never again,” Nakajo-Kleinman said.

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