Evenin’ all… (This is my first post since eye surgery — I am now one eyed! Argh, Matey! But we’ll give it a shot and see what happens!)
In our Sunday School class at church we’ve been studying the philosophies of world religions in order to know our neighbors better. It just so happened that today we were studying Judaism and that today also happened to be Holocaust Remembrance Day. One of the quotes from the book we’re using really resonated with me so I wanted to share it with you.
Adam Hamilton, the author, was talking about how good people could just stand by and watch what was happening to the Jews. He said:
At first many Germans refused to believe that the Nazis anti-Jewish rhetoric could lead to such a barbaric conclusion. They had friends who were Jewish; they had Jewish doctors or bankers or lawyers. They knew that German Jews had faithfully served the Fatherland in the Great War; how could anyone say that these people were somehow undermining the nation?
But gradually, the steady drip of anti-Semitic rhetoric began to seep into the subconscious of many of the German people. When people in authority say something enough times, regardless of how absurd or grotesque the claim may be, the idea begins to take root in the minds of many, particularly when the rhetoric plays upon people‘s fears. Others believed these ideas were wrong, but many were afraid to speak up. Thus the Nazi propaganda machine prepared the way for the first restrictions of civil rights for Jews beginning in 1933.
I don’t know about you, but that sentence in red sure sounds to me an awful lot like where we are now…world-wide. We watched a little video at the end about the Holocaust and all of us left thinking about how WE might have reacted. It made for some pretty good discussion and soul-searching.
The Holocaust is being forgotten. And we are losing SO much because of that.
Ignorance about the Holocaust is growing, particularly among young people. In the United States, a 2018 survey showed that 66% of millennials could not identify what the Auschwitz concentration and death camp was. A recent CNN poll in Europe revealed that about a third of the 7,000 European respondents across seven countries knew “just a little or nothing at all” about the Holocaust. In France, nearly 20% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 said they had never heard of the Holocaust.
These studies paint a disquieting picture of widening gaps in the knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust with the passing years. The concern isn’t only that the Holocaust is fading from memory, it’s that the lessons that can be applied to the ongoing human rights abuses and threats to democracy are also being lost. Today, January 27, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and there is no better time to call for a renewed effort to educate young people about the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews. (Ignorance About The Holocaust IS Growing…)
So I ask you to think about this: What would you have done had you lived in Germany at the time? Perhaps we need to think about it as we’re at a point in our nation where history is beginning to repeat itself… Martin Niemöller, a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany, stood against the Nazi regime and was imprisoned for seven years for doing so. His quote, carved in the wall of the last room at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., says:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionist, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.