Resolution 60/7 was passed in November 2005 and on this day each year, it serves as an international warning to the dangers of genocide.
“The Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism, and prejudice.”
Education and Global Justice
“To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
This year, the theme of Holocaust Memorial Day is “75 years after Auschwitz – Holocaust Education and Remembrance for Global Justice” in recognition of collective action against anti-Semitism and other forms of bias to ensure respect for the dignity and human rights of all people everywhere.
Standing by and doing nothing
Jewish Holocaust survivors and their children are painfully aware of those who stood by and did nothing in the Holocaust.
A relative of one of the Israeli ministry said,
“I remember overhearing a Belgium citizen, who was a young man at the time of the Nazi invasion of his land, recalling how he and others had stood idly by as his Jewish neighbors were loaded into trucks and carted off to their destruction.”
All genocides, including the Holocaust, can only take root when the local population allows such persecution to take hold.
Even though some actually supported and even facilitated policies of persecution, most of the people stood by quietly, not objecting in any way, afraid to speak out, or at worst, simply indifferent to what was happening to their fellow citizens.
Holocaust survivor and international author Elie Wiesel in his 1986 Nobel Prize acceptance speech revealed the powerful part that bystanders played:
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” (Nobel Prize)
Gentiles helping Jehudiem
“I think Albania is the only country whose Jewish population during the Holocaust actually grew because of the refuge and the sanctuary and the friendship and courage shown by the people of Albania,”
Workers in the shadow zone
“Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word….” Psalm 119:114
The story of the Dutch watchmaker and later a writer, Corrie Ten Boom who worked with her father, Casper ten Boom, her sister Betsie ten Boom and other family members to help many Jehudiem escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II by hiding them in her home. In her autobiography, The Hiding Place, which was later made into a film of the same name, along with a comic book adaptation by Barbour Christian Comics, she tells how one Dutch Christian family worked with the Dutch underground during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands to both hide Jewish families and to help them escape to England.
As a Christian Corrie suffered a moral crisis over the lying, theft, forgery and bribery that were necessary to keep the Jews safely hidden. A big problem for her was that it was unlikely that her family would get away with helping Jews for long, as they had nowhere to hide them. The Dutch underground resistance arranged for a secret room to be built in the Béjé so that the Jews would have a place to hide during an inevitable raid. But it was a constant struggle for Corrie to keep the Jews safe. To protect them she had to make several sacrifices. Rolf, a police officer friend, trained her to be able to think clearly anytime for when the Nazis would invade her home and start to question her.
The Dutch collaborators (traitors to humanity) got to Corrie with the help of a spy, who asked Corrie to help his wife, who had been arrested. Not knowing about the real intentions of that man Corrie agreed but with misgivings. As it turned out, it was a set up trap, and the watch shop was raided. The entire family was arrested, along with the shop employees, but the Jews managed to hide themselves in the secret room.
Corrie was sent to Scheveningen, a Dutch prison used by the Nazis for political prisoners, nicknamed ‘”Oranjehotel”‘, a hotel for people loyal to the House of Orange. After four months at Scheveningen, Corrie and Betsie are transferred to Vught, a concentration camp for political prisoners in the Netherlands.
When a counteroffensive against the Nazis seemed imminent, the prisoners were shipped by train to Germany, where they were imprisoned at Ravensbrück, a notorious women’s concentration camp. Betsie’s health completely failed but by her faith she tried to stand strong and showed a universal love for everyone. The sisters used a hidden Bible to teach their fellow prisoners about Jesus and the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God.
Betsie died at the Ravensbrook concentration camp, whilst their father had died in a Dutch transient camp. Due to a clerical error Corrie was released just before Christmas. She spent the rest of her life travelling the world and giving her testimony. She died in Placentia, California at the age of 91 in 1983.
Spreading the hidden going on
Next to those who tried to help locally, hide Jews or other imprisoned people, there were those who found it important to inform others of what went on in the different European regions.
The Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski refued to stand by and smuggled himself into the Warsaw Ghetto to see for himself what was going on, so that he could warn world leaders of the Holocaust, as early as 1942.
“I do not believe you.”
“I did not say that he’s lying. I said that I don’t believe him. These are different things.”
The adjective “educational” when applied to Holocaust exhibits does not have to mean sentimental education — getting people sad and shocked and angry, so they internalize the message of “never again.”
It is very important to keep showing the world what happened, but also making aware how things can stay hidden, not known or by them being so unbelievable that nobody thinks it shall not be so bad or that it is not going to fulfil, with the knowledge the soup shall never be eaten so hot as it is served.
People have to be aware how modern technological, bureaucratic, and scientific methods, innovations, and even values — the sorts of things we associate with progress and better living, can be employed in the service of ghastly human rights violations when people lose sight of the “forest” of everybody’s common humanity behind all the “trees” of bureaucratic order, technological improvements, and the promise of cultural validation.
Whether or not our industrialized society currently has the conditions for sliding into murderous populism, and therefore it is important to build in educational factors or to foresee enough information can be brought into the open. Even today we still need disturbing eye-openers.
We have to remember how German people’s economic insecurity and deep bitterness in the aftermath of the Versailles treaty were the matrix for the growing seed of Nazism. All throughout the ages people wanted to find scapegoats to give them the guilt for the bad economic situation.
The Nazis arrived with the promise to make Germany great again. Today we can find similar figures as Adolf Hitler, which consider themselves the best leader ever for the nation and for the world. They promise the best life ever for the people who want to vote for them. And they manage to get a lot of people behind them, doing everybody away who does not agree with them, often calling them bad names or saying it are sods and stupid people. The belittling of others is the greatest asset that such dangerous leaders use to strengthen their power over others. Most upcoming dictators make sure others their saying shall become to be considered false or intentionally brought forward to undermine the system. We still can see the old tricks are still used today. Emotional propaganda appears to be nearly irresistible as in the previous centuries, and the formula has been used again and again, practically unchanged. Its muted version has worked to elect Trump in the U.S. Its direct adaptation is working great for Putin in Russia, where the state whips up people’s feelings about Soviet sacrifices in WWII, then channels the sentimental energy into a form of patriotism that sees Russia as a long-suffering force of good in a hostile world, bolstering Putin’s power.
“Every debate about the ideals of education is trivial and inconsequential compared to this single ideal: never again Auschwitz,”
wrote German philosopher Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno.
Auschwitz was not the biggest instance of mass murder, nor was it the most efficient, nor was it the first or the last.
Ten years before Auschwitz, there was the man-made famine that convulsed the Soviet republic of Ukraine from 1932 to 1933, peaking in the late spring of 1933, Holodomor, literally “Death by Starvation,” during which Stalin murdered an estimated 3 to 7 million Ukrainian people within that space of two years by confiscating their food supplies. It was part of a broader Soviet famine (1931–34) that also caused mass starvation in the grain-growing regions of Soviet Russia and Kazakhstan.
Genocides did not come to an end with the end of Word War II, neigher did the hatred for people with an other faith or an other skin colour. All civilised countries should make sure their children shall be enugh educated to see what can not be tolerated in a civilised society. Young people shall have come to lern that anti-Semitism can never be tolerated, neither any such hatred against others so that violence against others would be approved.
Please read also:Is it really true that Anti-Semitism will never be tolerated?
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- Black page 70 years Release – commemoration Auschwitz
- World remembers Auschwitz survivors
- Luca Jahier, EESC President on the present intolerance
- Polish commemoration of the liberation of the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau
- Seventy-five years ago on January 27
- the Soup will not be eaten as hot as it is served
- Through the Lens of Faith
- Nazi Germany
- Christadelphians, the Kindertransport, and Rescue from the Holocaust
- Christadelphians’ role in the rescue of Jewish children from Nazi Germany
- A Quarter of Europeans are Still Antisemites
- Israeli leaders delight in Europe’s cruelty toward refugees
- The danger of having less than 25 000 Jews in Belgium