holocaust for-the

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

Elie Wiesel

 

 

 

Well.

 

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

 

The internationally recognized date for Holocaust Remembrance Day corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. It marks the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. In Hebrew, Holocaust Remembrance Day is called Yom Hashoah <but it is remembered on Monday because the recognized date fell on a Sunday>.

 

Anyway.

 

I read something in USA Today last week. A column written by a student in Germany from when her class visited the WW2 concentration camp Dachau.

 

I had to reread it <and avoid rereading some of the comments some of which are disturbing>.

 

As I read it I thought about how teenagers are … and even with that filter … I worried.

I worried that there is a generation who may flippantly disregard the Holocaust as ‘something I could never do’ … or even ‘something that just couldn’t happen in today’s world.’

 

I worry because we human race have an inordinate capacity for evil behavior in certain circumstances.

Well.

 

Let’s say circumstances where we deem it ‘okay’ to behave in some extraordinarily despicable ways.

 

If I had a teen I think I would ask them to read this short editorial from this 16 year old … and take a minute … just a minute … and talk about it.

 

Events like the Holocaust are painful to remember … and relive in pictures and words. Certainly extremely uncomfortable.

And it can sometimes seem easier to avoid that pain and discomfort.

But I tend to believe we would be a little better off just to brush up against this pain every once in a while just to remind ourselves how painful it really is. I say this if not only to remind us that ignorance is an enemy. Discomfort should not stand in the way of an opportunity to insure ignorance is addressed.

 

Anyway.

I was a pain in the ass immature teenager boy.

I don’t know if I would have laughed … or kidded around … if I visited a concentration camp. I don’t think I would have … but I don’t know.

What I do know … is that I cried as an adult visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.

 

I am not Jewish … but I am a human being.

No one should forget the Holocaust.

 

 

German teens and the Holocaust

 

Sophie Roth-Douquet wrote this column at 6:15 p.m. EDT on April 24, 2014 in USAToday.

 

An American student’s experience at Dachau.

(Photo: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)holocaust museum pic

 

 

STUTTGART, GERMANY “Because the Nazis were cooler than the Jews.” I hadn’t caught the question, but the answer was the latest in a succession of jokes about the Holocaust a month ago in my ninth-grade history class in Germany. The boys laughed uncontrollably, ignoring our teacher’s attempts to stop them, while looking at pictures of starving concentration camp victims.

A few days later, things got worse. Our class visited Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp. I was with some girls who congregated next to the barracks, where the prisoners once lay piled on top of each other. Nearby was a large black sculpture of men ensnared in barbed wire. One girl cracked a joke, and everyone laughed. I didn’t see the humor, only the ghosts.

Holocaust Remembrance Day is Sunday. Many U.S. schools will observe the day on Monday, but not my German school. What I heard from my German classmates that day makes me think that maybe we should.

Am I overreacting? Is it because I am American — and a Jew? As the daughter of a Marine officer, I’ve had the opportunity to live in different parts of the U.S. and the world. In each setting, I’ve learned to live among different peoples and cultures, forcing me to view life from different perspectives.

So why does it matter to me that my class take the Holocaust seriously? There are two lessons we can learn from the Holocaust. First, we can learn the past: The dates, the names. All the things my class learned in school. The second lesson is about the present. About human nature. About ourselves. The lesson my classmates missed. As a Jew, I couldn’t miss the lesson. My relatives are living history.

But my classmates’ families really don’t talk about the Holocaust. Perhaps it is too uncomfortable a topic. Nor is it usually a topic in school. In my school, the Holocaust is not even mentioned until the ninth grade. And when we do study World War II, the systematic genocide of Jews is barely mentioned.

I do think that German students should take the Holocaust as seriously as other students. These horrors are a big part of their history, and something that continues to affect how some Germans see their country today.

When my classmates laughed at Dachau, they weren’t being monsters. My class acted no differently than my class in South Carolina, where slavery was justified because “times were different.” In both these situations, my classes covered up these tragedies of the past and chose to ignore the lesson taught by history: that if allowed to go too far, humans can do terrible things.

The best way to make sure something like the Holocaust is never repeated is not to shield children from what happened, but teach them the moral lessons about people’s capacity for evil.

For the future.

 

 

<the author: Sophie Roth-Douquet is 16 years old, and after three years in Germany, she will return to the U.S. with her family this year>

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We should never forget if but only for the reason we need to remember to stand up and speak out:

 

 hope fear

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Elie Wiesel

 

 

 

Last year’s Holocaust post: http://brucemctague.com/we-should-always-remember

 

 

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Written by Bruce