On Holocaust Memorial Day we commemorate all those who died because of the Nazi obsession with creating a pure and perfect mighty Aryan master-race: the Jews, Roma Gypsies, Disabled, Gays and any groups and individuals who the Nazis perceived as a political threat to this master-race.
Particularly, the Nazis considered two ethnic groups, the Roma and the Jews, as so dangerous that they did not have any right to life. Every Jew and Gypsy alive today in Europe is a survivor of the Nazi intention to totally ethnically cleanse them out of Europe, which the Nazis considered as their rightful empire, their previous empire in Africa having been stolen from them by the Treaty of Versailles.
Whereas the mighty ‘master-race’ never got off the ground, both the Roma and Jews survived through their greater adaptability, developed through centuries of persecution. While we can also celebrate this survival, it was at the cost of massive trauma still felt to some extent by the subsequent generations.
Commemoration Isn’t Enough – Genocide Continues
A Genocide Continues in Myanmar. Image Credit: European Commission / Flickr
Annual commemoration events are necessary, but not sufficient as genocide continues. Denial of the Ottoman (Armenian) Genocide in WWI made WWII almost inevitable, and several major genocides have been allowed to follow their course since the Nazi Holocaust. Take Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Sudan and the current situation in Myanmar if you need proof.
Learning the lessons of the Holocaust will not come to fruition without action – action towards containing the hatred that leads to conflicts, wars and finally genocide. Only when enough people are totally determined to prevent it, will genocide be stopped – and it can be stopped if enough people develop the courage to care and the will to act.
Making ‘Never Again’ A Reality
Image Credit: MaxPixel
“Never Again” is unlikely to be achieved in our lifetime but it is we who need to make an effective input towards making it happen. Each and every one of us can do something. It is essential to learn to contain our own violent impulses so that we can talk and negotiate instead of exacerbating and increasing the violence of others.
Perhaps the most poisonous factor is the toleration and cover-up of denial. Denial opens the door for others to commit crimes against humanity, as we clearly see others getting away with it. We need to enthuse and stimulate curiosity and an insistence to expose the truth. We live with so much denial that many people can no longer distinguish between misinformation, disinformation (fake news) and truth.
Denial has become so embedded in the infrastructure of our community that it feels like the norm and we don’t question it. Critical thinking is not something just for the school curriculum – it has to be for adults too. We need much more thinking in groups and think tanks, creating initiatives to hone our capabilities until potentially positive projects, such as the United Nations Association and Responsibility to Protect, emerge. Only when more people join these movements and start to take their responsibilities seriously, will we be well on the road towards eventually containing hatred and stopping genocide.