The Twentieth century was undeniably a bloody
one, full of catastrophes lice war and revolution. Many of these events
resulted in shocking accounts of death, brutality and slaughter. Arguably,
some of the most disturbing among these occurrences were discrete, silent
acts of genocide. There was, for example, the instance of "terror-famine"
by Stalin in the 1910's, an attack on the Ukrainian peasantry that
resulted in 14.5 million deaths. There was Mussolini's ruthless campaign,
which killed large numbers of Ethiopian natives with mustard gas in the
1930's. When Bangladesh seceded from its former rulers in 1971, three
million Bengalis were believed to have been massacred, and in the 1970's a
cruel revolutionary government was responsible for the deaths of two
million of the-seven million people living in Kampuchea. The Holocaust is
one of the most infamous among these genocidal events. Unfortunately,
these unspeakable acts have not halted with the advent of the twenty-first
century. Conflicts and rivalries have grown; the hate has not ceased. It
is our job as world citizens to do something about it.
The figures and individual horror stories that accompany the Holocaust are almost beyond human imagination. Between five and six million Jews were brutally murdered: women, children and the elderly alongside sturdy young men and capable fathers, husbands and sons. Two thirds of European Jewry, a third of the entire people was exterminated under Hitler's "Final Solution".
When considering the Holocaust, it seems to enter one's mind that an appalling devaluation of human life paired with an unbelievable lack of remorse took place in Hitler's empire. The Nazi regime as a whole seemed to exhibit apathy for the harrowing events they planned, carried out and witnessed. How, as humans, could they see such horrors and fail to care? Hitler described the reason for his people's indifference in Mein Kamph: "...our own painful struggle for existence destroys our feeling for those who have remained." Another popular opinion on the matter states that the Nazi counterrevolution could never have lasted, as inhumane as the idea was. It was, as Otto Dov Kulka put it, "A revolt against the all-embracing idea of the unity of the human race." Nazism was destined to be discovered and revolted against. Policies with such an evil basis cannot persevere as long as the world stands up for the good, the just and the right.
What have been and are the continuing consequences of the Nazi's pitiless attitude? Liberating armies brought freedom to captives in the concentration camps, but they also brought the first horrible news to the world of Hitler's well concealed secret. Nazis were finally made to pay for their crimes, and Germany, which was slowly working out of previously accumulated debt, suffered a fresh economic blow. However, the lasting damage had already been done, and there was little anyone could say or do to reverse the effect of so much cruelty, hate, violence and murder. The loss of life that came of man's hate was a grievous chapter in our world's history, and we must never forget it.
Intelligent though he was, Hitler refused to realize and promote the importance of diversity is every society, and failing to do so may have been his demise. Humankind's beauty comes in many colors, shapes and religions, and the absence of this variety would make earth bland and tasteless. As a contributing world citizen, one must recognize and embrace diversity with his or her whole heart.
Terrorism, violence, genocide, destruction. Each of these things comes from misunderstanding, fear and hate. In the Holocaust, on September eleven and during every race war in the history of the world, these things have been allowed to fracture love and fellowship of man. Invariably, humans have failed to learn from the lessons of the past. What can my generation do to combat this grim cycle? The first step comes in remembrance and respect. The Holocaust and other such events cannot be shoved into the past; we must be willing to remember them. As Holocaust survivor Alexander Kimel so fittingly stated, "People that cannot face their past cannot adapt for the future." Let us learn from previous generations, mistakes and not make them our own.
In our remembrance, it is important to include the most impressionable and influential members of our society, children. They must know the horror stories of the Holocaust as well as their Nursery rhymes. Caregivers should daunt children with true tales of death and destruction, so that they can go on to fight discrimination and hate. Doing so may seem severe, but children deserve to be informed of the actualities in order to positively affect the world
But what can I do? How can I, as a high school freshman, influence our generation enough to stop the attempted destruction of a people, or the terrorist attacks of September eleven, or any other large-scale event or issue? 1, or anyone who wishes, can attempt to make myself a herald of remembrance and a radiator of peace. I can focus on spreading joy and friendship and smothering hate. Making the world of tomorrow an even better place than that of today is as easy as educating children and teenagers with impacting, shocking information about how humans have been products of hate. By talking to our younger siblings, the neighborhood kids, or our school friends, teenagers can make as a positive impact as much as terrorists made a negative one on that unforgettable September day.
To describe or write about an event such as the holocaust can be very difficult. As Elie Weisel said, "Auschwitz defies imagination and perception, it submits only to memory... Between the dead and the rest of us there exists an abyss that no talent can comprehend" However, learning to make a difference and a hopeful future takes little effort and elicits much joy. Let us join together and profess our confidence in overcoming the hate and inhumanity in the world In conclusion, a quote from the popular children's film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, "From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success!" Let my generation be those roses for the future!
1. Manes, Michael. The Holocaust in
History. c. 1987. 2. Eisenberg, Azriel. The Lost Generation, c. 1982 3.
Dwork, Deborah. Children with a Star. c. 1991
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