Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Remembering the Horror of Nazi Crimes

Salam everyone,

It is the 60th anniversary of the victory over the Nazis and the liberation of the Nazi death camps in which 6 million Jews, 3 million Poles, 1 million or so Gypsies and assorted Communists, trade unionists and homosexuals met their deaths.

There are many commemorative events being held to remember this horrible happening. There are several things I wanted to say in memory of the people who suffered and died under the Nazis.

First, this event was unique in history for the reason that the Nazis planned it so calculatedly and implemented it and documented it so clearly. Hannah Arendt wrote about this in her book The Banality of Evil. It's the banality, the documented details, that make this event more chilling to hear about than other similar tragedies.

Second, in commemorating this event and saying/praying "Never Again," we must remember that the main lesson to be gained is that we must be vigilant against fascist political movements that seek to "otherize" huge groups of people and condone their extermination. Those movements exist today.

Third, it cheapens the memory of those who suffered and died in these camps for the commemorations to be carried out on behalf of a certain country or political affiliation, or a certain group, to the exclusion of others. The Nazi atrocities were a crime against all of humanity.

Fourth, it is beyond contempt to pretend that either it did not happen (denial), that it was exaggerated somehow by partisans (revisionism), that the Nazis were somehow justified for it (assorted racists, particularly those who hate Jews), or that we should scorn commemorating it because of some or another political issue happening today. That would put us not much above those who lean the fascist way.

I mourn the untimely deaths and the untold suffering that took place in Dachau, Auschwitz, Birkenau and all the other Nazi death camps. May their suffering and death have not been in vain to the extent that they provided the grim lesson to all of us to be ever vigilant against the dangers of fascism and intolerance.

I do not pretend to have any special authority to speak about those who were ruthlessly and bureaucratically slaughtered. It is my belief that all people in the world today, particularly the majority who were born after the death camps were liberated, can only be worthy of even remembering them if we learn the lessons from history and become more civilized people, creating a world where the evils the Nazis called for and carried out would truly become completely unthinkable. May we one day realize this dream. Only then can we truly hope that the dead will be at peace.

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