2000-04-29 / Editorial/Opinion

We Must Remember

More than half a century has passed since the horrors of the Holocaust shed its dark shadow over mankind. People throughout the world will remember the Holocaust this week by observing Yom Hashoah, the day dedicated to the memory of the six million Jews and countless others killed by the Nazis.

The Holocaust is the greatest example in the 20th Century of what evil man can do to another man. Adolf Hitler and his Nazis started the campaign to eliminate the Jewish people in Germany in 1933. Jewish businesses were boycotted, Jews were fired from government jobs, German citizenship was taken away and Jews were barred from being doctors, lawyers, journalists, etc.

On November 9, 1938 these acts culminated in great anti-Jewish riots known as Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), in which hundreds of synagogues were destroyed and thousands of Jewish shops looted. Then, German Jews were uprooted from their homes and deposited in ghettos. Jews were then crammed into trains, like cattle, to be transported to concentration camps, where many men, women and children were killed through methods of machine gunning, starvation, carbon monoxide poisoning, exposure to cold, and other means. When these proved to be too slow, the Nazis developed the idea of gas chambers to kill large numbers of people.

Hitler didn’t reserve this treatment just to Jews. He brought his heavy hand down on Christians who assisted Jews (e.g. hiding them from Nazis) and those he referred to as "misfits" -- the mentally retarded, gypsies, homosexuals, and others he just didn’t like because of the way they looked.

We remember the Holocaust for so many reasons -- to memorialize the innocent people who perished, to learn how something this tragic could have happened, and to educate future generations in an attempt to prevent something this horrendous from happening again.

Adolf Hitler alone can not be blamed for the Holocaust. The lesson of the Holocaust is not about what one man is capable of doing, but what people who accept or tolerate hate are capable of doing. The Holocaust has taught us a painful lesson about individual accountability and collective responsibility in the face of evil. It’s been said, "Do not fear your enemies. The worst they can do is kill you. Do not fear friends. At worst, they may betray you. Fear those who do not care; they neither kill nor betray, but betrayal and murder exist because of their silent consent."

The lessons of the Holocaust must remain etched in our memories, so that as individuals and as a nation we stand firmly against bigotry and hatred, wherever, and in whatever form, they appear.

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