Remembering The Holocaust Essay, Research Paper
Remembering the Holocaust
Six million Jews and millions of others, including Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals, the mentally ill and the infirm were murdered by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. The magnitude of brutality, the remorseless cruelty, and the mass murder during the Holocaust are unique. However the root causes of the Holocaust continue. Racial hatred, economic crises, human psychological and moral flaws are still ominously common. Saying this, we must have the courage to remember the Holocaust, no matter how disturbing the memories may be. For only informed, understanding, and morally committed people can prevent such persecution from happening again. There will never be enough remembrance of the Holocaust. To forget about the holocaust is to ignore the tragedies many millions suffered, to bring about a possibility it could be repeated, and to agree with Adolf Hitler s philosophy.
“Never think there is an easy way to make an end to such bitter memories…Never think there is a way to forgive the hate in the human heart…or an easy way to believe that the worst has occurred and is past. Only know that hope lives when people remember.” (Simon Wiesenthal) The persecution of people is always and everywhere intolerable and to act against it is a beginning for hope. Jewish communities existed continuously in Europe for over 2,000 years. Many of these communities were older than the countries in which they existed. Nevertheless, as the countries of Europe developed, Jews were rarely given complete citizenship status. At best they were tolerated as guests. Their social and religious distinctiveness made them persistent targets for persecution; and such persecution, in turn, intensified the cohesiveness of Jewish communities. Jews were starved, beaten, experimented on, tortured, and killed. They were forced to face an almost certain death. The Jewish people were persecuted for their religion. Although the Jewish peoples are the ones who are mainly thought about when discussing the Holocaust, they were not the only ones to be persecuted. Also discriminated against were the homosexuals, mentally ill, Polish, Gypsies, Slavs. A series of inhumane experiments for alleged ideological, military and medical purposes was imposed on the unwilling prisoners. They were frozen, forced to drink nothing but sea water, and injected with tuberculosis, all in the name of science. If we fail to remember the Holocaust, we fail to remember the suffering and loss of over six million people.
“Take heed…lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and…teach them to your children and to your children’s children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9). This quote holds very true for remembering the Holocaust. It basically means to remember the past and to pass it along so that others will not forget. Remembering the Holocaust is important because if we ignore what occurred there is a likelihood that it could be repeated. The likelihood grows with each person that denies or forgets this atrocity occurred. For every person that denies the Holocaust, there are probably fifty more that remember what happened. There are museums built to help remember the Holocaust in cities all over the world. They educate both young and old about Hitler, the Nazis and the concentration camps. The survivor generation is starting to disappear. Everyday, there are fewer and fewer eye-witnesses left to the Nazi crimes against humanity.
It is a sacred duty for their descendants to maintain the memories of the Holocaust, to remind the world of man’s cruelty to man and to counter the efforts of those who, for whatever warped political or social reasons, try to rewrite history to convince others that the whole thing never happened.
To forget the Holocaust is to agree with Adolf Hitlers philosophy of a racially pure society. Hitlers believed that the Jewish were a subhuman race. Hitler believed that Germans were racially superior and that there was a struggle for survival between them and inferior races. Jews, Gypsies and the handicapped were seen as a serious biological threat to the purity of the German (Aryan) Race and therefore had to be exterminated. Hitler blamed the Jews for Germany’s defeat in World War I, for its economic problems and for the spread of Communist parties throughout Europe. Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians and others) were also considered inferior and destined to serve as slave labor for their German masters. Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals and Free Masons were persecuted, imprisoned and often killed on political and behavioral, rather than racial, grounds . Sometimes the distinction was not very clear. Millions perished from starvation, disease and forced labor or were killed for racial or political reasons. Hitler believed that he was in a sense perfect. He also believed that he was doing God s work. He has long been considered an embodiment of evil. Remembering the Holocaust is disagreeing with the beliefs of Adolf Hitler, evil incarnate.
“We shall never let the victims be forgotten for if we do, we will forget that the perpetrator can be in all of us” (Rudi Raab). It requires courage to remember the Holocaust: to squarely face the images of such remorseless evil; to ache for the unconsoled grief of children and parents; to experience the emptiness and loss; to read the unimaginable testimonies to the twisted, vicious inventiveness of the human mind. But if the lost lives of these millions are to have an enduring meaning, we must remember and be vigilant. Then the ashes and unmarked graves of these victims can become the sacred ground from which human hope, tolerance and moral courage will rise.