HOLOCAUST STUDIES— Again ? or Never Again !

It is a painful, difficult subject and some say "enough already". 

 There are Holocaust films, Holocaust Centers, Holocaust Studies at a multitude of universities. What about Holocaust tours to Concentration Camps and Crematoria in Eastern Europe?  Is it all about the Jews?  What about the many other genocides that have occurred and continue to occur around the world.  What about the claims that "there's no business like Shoah business,"  that the meaning has been subordinated to an entire industry.

On the other hand there are many who say we can NEVER study the Holocaust enough.  It is the only hope we have of preventing future genocides.

I believe the balance should be in favor of continued Holocaust studies. They must be placed in the context of the history of genocides past and present.  We need to list them all, to name them, to honor their dead, to not miss any! The  goal is not to revel in the atrocities of the past but to  to prevent those of the future.

Every genocide is unique.  Each had unique historical, religious, racial antecedents.  Each soul who perished must be remembered and mourned.  It should not be a numbers game. 

 But the numbers do have an enormous impact on us.  The Nazi's "final solution" lead to the extermination of around 6 million Jews.  That was one-third of the entire Jewish population in the world.  What is mind boggling and can never be forgotten–over one million innocent children were a part of this ultimate evil.

By placing the Holocaust in the context of other genocides we demonstrate that this was not merely a "German" problem.   ALL human beings are capable of participating in such horrors.

We need to study this.

We need to teach our children about what can happen when hatred and demonization of other human beings which begins  in the cradle and is not challenged is allowed to fester. 

 We need to show them what can happen when perfectly sane but morally corrupt individuals follow the will of those in authority who are determined to perpetrate crimes against innocent human beings they deem different or inferior.

We need to study the work of Stanley Milgram the psychologist who explored the concept of  obedience to authority figures in which ordinary individuals were capable of torturing another (they were unaware that no one was really hurt) because they were instructed to do so.

We need to read the writings of Hannah Arendt who took note of the "banality of evil", describing how Adoph Eichmann, the bureaucrat and   architect of the Holocaust  performed his tasks without any overt animosity.

We need to teach our children that they are personally, morally responsible for their choices in life. 

 We need to teach our police officers that, unlike the German police during the Nazi onslaught,  it is a moral imperative to refuse an unethical order.

We need to seek out groups that preach hatred towards others.

They may not personally be capable of creating genocides but their poisoning of human minds are the fertilized ground for them.

No one can convince me otherwise–2000 years of Christian anti-semitism was the toxic substance upon which the Nazi Jew-hatred flourished and manifested in the willingness of collaborators from Baltic and Slavic countries to enthusiastically perform their "duties". 

We need to study the righteous among us who refused to give in. 

 We need to honor them, to study their bravery in the face of threats to their own lives and those of their families. 

 We need to honor their committment to moral good when those around them succumbed to evil.

So Holocaust studies? 

 I say yes.

However difficult they may be. 

However uncomfortable they make us. 

 However upset our children may become when they learn about our dark side. 

It is truly our only hope

–that our past does not inevitably become our future.