On Holocaust Remembrance Day (4/16), victims of the animal holocaust will be remembered during a funeral procession in New York City. Among the participants will be a survivor from Hungary who lost her sister and father in Nazi concentration camps and has dedicated her life to fighting atrocities committed against animals.
“The longest running holocaust in history is taking place right under our noses, but it is being ignored.” said organizer Shimon Shuchat, who comes from a Hasidic Jewish family in Brooklyn. “Right now, mother cows are crying out for their kidnapped babies; piglets are being castrated with no painkillers; male chicks are being dropped into shredding machines; monkeys are being tortured laboratories; and millions of farm animals are making the long, terrifying journey to a slaughterhouse. For what?”
Every year in the United States, roughly 10 billion land animals and 50 billion sea animals are killed for food.
One of the founders of the modern day animal rights movement, Alex Hershaft, is a Holocaust survivor, and, like Mr. Shuchat, he’s not shy about invoking the genocide when speaking about animal factory farms and slaughterhouses.
Before being smuggled out of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II, five year old Hershaft saw Jews being beaten by Nazis in the streets. He lost most of his family during the war, but he gained empathy that helped him connect dots between crimes against humans and crimes against animals. In 1976, Dr. Hershaft founded the organization that would eventually become the Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM).
Over the years, the animal rights group PETA has come under fire for using Holocaust imagery – juxtaposing images of concentration camps with factory farms. Some activists believe that the comparison gives the target audience license to dismiss the message, which defeats the purpose of the campaign. Others support the analogy. In fact, author Isaac Besheva Singer said, “In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. For the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka. Human beings see oppression vividly when they’re the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought.”
It is the “cries of the silent victims of modern day concentration camps” that Mr. Shuchat intends to amplify on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Shuchat also hopes to change behavior: “When footage of factory farms farms is played side by side with footage of the Holocaust, people can see that there’s not much of a difference. If only a few of those people stop eating animals, then we know we will have made a difference.”
Funeral procession participants will gather in midtown at 7:00 p.m. and, carrying posters and banners, will travel to Times Square for a candlelight vigil.
Two weeks prior to Holocaust Remembrance Day, Germany announced that it will be the first country in the world to ban live chicken shredding. Fifty percent of chickens born into the egg industry – the males – are either dropped alive into a shredding machine or are suffocated to death because they cannot lay eggs. In Germany alone, an estimate 45 million baby male chicks are killed each year.