Holocaust Remembrance Day will be commemorated on Sunday, April 23. It is a day of observance, honoring the memory of the innocents slaughtered mercilessly by Hitler and his gang of Nazis. Six million Jews – peaceful, contributing citizens, the old and young, women and men – were rounded up into concentration camps, their property seized, and they were left to starve, be experimented upon, and unceremoniously led into gashouses to be “exterminated” – the Nazis’ word implying they were vermin and not people. They were not the only casualties of this massacre. There were also five million Slavs, Roma, disabled, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and political and religious dissidents who were also scapegoated and killed, from 1933 when the Nazis seized power, until the end of WWII, in 1945.
The motto, “Never Again,” is the point of commemorating such horrible occurences in human history. To let people know such a thing not only can, but did happen, and to remain vigilant lest it happen again. Unfortunately, it was not an isolated incident. Before the Jewish Holocaust, from 1915 to 1923, one and a half million Armenians were slaughtered by the Ottomans. The Armenian Genocide is being remembered on Monday, April 24. “The Promise,” a major motion picture that takes place during the Armenian Genocide, starring Christian Bale as a journalist struggling to cover it and survive, is opening on April 21.
Other genocides have occurred in recent times and there are unfortunately many others throughout history. Some undoubtedly may have occurred during prehistoric times. One would hope this can be prevented from happening ever again. It would help, of course, for everyone to try to stay well-informed and never be swayed to expel, jail, or otherwise punish entire groups.
Genocide is enabled when people don’t identify with others as equal humans, or brothers, but as “other.” Everyone should be open to their stories, their concerns, their humanity, and realize they are as human as anyone else, and the actions of a few should never be used against all other members of any group. We always put the shoe on the other foot and say, “what if it were me?” The extremely relevant poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller, “First They Came,” springs to mind. We would like to see it posted in all the schools and civic gathering places, and we would wish to add our voice to others in the media to prevent any atrocity from happening again in the future .