We Will Remember
By Tania Khatibifar
East Northport, NY


 

"Small is the ring
Enclosing our life,
And whole generations
Link themselves firmly
On to existence's
Chain never-ending"

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1789

Adolf Hitler's seizure of German power from 1933-1945 witnessed a destruction of humanity. Nazi tyranny saw the merciless, mass extermination of six million Jews and five and a half million Gypsies, Poles, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, persons with mental and physical disabilities and political and clerical dissidents. The belief of Aryan German superiority, thus the racial inferiority of any other race, and the concept of "human perfection" was at the cornerstone of Nazi ideology. The Jewish populace was distinctly targeted through the Final Solution, in which economic troubles were blamed on the Jewish people and the Christian German public rallied behind a monetary cause. The Final Solution of the Jewish Question consisted of Jewish systematic relocation and consolidation in ghettos, transport to concentration camps and the subsequent ruthless extermination of millions of innocent lives.

Remembrance of the horrific events which occurred during the Third Reich is essential, and knowledge of the Holocaust must forever be maintained. With the rapidly approaching tides of time, the number of survivors victimized by the inhumane Nazi crimes is dwindling. It is imperative that their remarkable stories of courage are heard by the many generations to come. Silence and censorship are dangerous to the preservation of voice. The brilliant, highly admirable Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor himself, once said, ". . . [I]f we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices . . . [n]eutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." Silence also encourages the conspiring stories of Holocaust revisionists, who deny the occurrence of the Holocaust or assert that it is deliberately exaggerated. One holocaust revisionist on http://zundelsite.org states:

... [t]here were no gas chambers . . . There is no evidence of gas chambers that an objective person can find credible. There is growing credible evidence that what purport to be the remains of the gas chambers at Auschwitz, and elsewhere, are frauds-less believable than Potemkin villages. There are NO documents, NO orders, NO planning, NO blueprints, NO photographs, NO autopsies-NOTHING that is definitively or even reasonably credible to support gas chambers ... what does exist ... are, by the tens or even hundreds of thousands, testimonies and confessions. Many, if not most of the testimonies, are preposterous, preternatural, not in keeping with the laws of the physical world ... Why would so many people lie?. . . [s]ome lie because it is quite profitable.

Such chilling, delusive claims parallel Orwellian themes of control of knowledge and the dissemination of misinformation. The revisionism of history is intended to unite the people behind a common cause-in this case, anti-Semitism. As George Orwell writes in 1984, "And if all others accepted the lie which the party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past"(32). We must not allow the currents of time to let revisionist lies gradually weave themselves into the fabric of our global history. We must remember, for as the survivor generation of the Holocaust diminishes, primary sources and evidence die as well. With the loss of primary resources, the idea of a ruthless clearing of a populace becomes increasingly difficult to fathom, helping the case of Holocaust revisionism. Thus, the importance of educating our present citizens and future descendants increases tremendously.

Knowledge also helps to combat racism and to prevent the recurrence of such evil in our future. History teaches us valuable lessons for the present and the future; relative to the Holocaust, the dangers of anti-Semitism and any other form of racism are illuminated. Through education we shall enlighten our world with the powers of consciousness and intellect in order to prevent such disturbing, abhorrent abuses from ever occurring again. In addition, awareness regarding the dangers of dictatorial fascism has given way to today's active participation in politics; many Westerners are appreciative of the civil rights bestowed upon them from birth. Furthermore, ardent support for a favorable, virtuous government, highly unlike that of Nazi Germany, will caution the world from the appointment of a redundant tyrant to office.

With the failure of Holocaust remembrance, a devastating loss of textbookish history will occur. However, one must stop and think, that in addition to historical facts, geographical locations and numerical statistics, the failure of remembrance will bring about a loss of emotion toward the Holocaust, and hundreds and thousands of poignant accounts may vanish forever. The miraculous personal stories of the rescuers and the victims must always be carried with us and passed on to our descendants to continue the flow of complex, impassioned emotion about Holocaust from one heart to another. Never shall we forget the young boy hanged in Elie Wiesel's Night as he symbolically struggled between life and death. Never shall we forget the miraculous story of Oskar Schindler, a man who defied his party and rescued 1,200 Jews from the hands of doom. Such stories testify to the heroism of the human spirit and serve as inspiration to people of good will in any time, and in any place.

Education and the maintenance of an open mind are the keys to battling prejudice, discrimination and violence. As students, we must educate ourselves about the hazards of the aforementioned malignancies in order to battle and to prevent a corrupted future. In doing so, may we hope for a future of civility, virtue and nonviolence. With the freedoms and opportunities we are fortunate to have here in America, our generation should actively participate in programs in school and abroad aimed toward battling racism, discrimination and other detrimental factors which can lead to hate and violence. Together, students should proudly recognize and celebrate global multifariousness, for diversity of society and culture is a beautiful aspect of the human condition.

Anti-Semitism has always been a force in history, but prejudice and discrimination reached their ultimate climax in 1933 with the birth of the Third Reich. Nearly twelve million innocent civilians died under the wretched conditions of concentration camps simply because they were not ethnically pure in the eyes of the Nazis. One cannot even begin to describe the physical and emotional torment the prisoners underwent as a result of racism, and it would be as great an injustice if the world were denied this truth. The adversities racism can create must be illuminated through literature and education in order to preserve the voices of history, for silence may cause the heroic reports of survival and the horrors perpetuated by racial superiority to be lost forever. Looking toward the future, it is essential to maintain an open mind that will perceive the beauty of diversity of the world and to guard it against threats to its continuance on the face of the earth.



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Wiesel, Elie. The Nobel Acceptance Speech. 10 December 1986.
 

 


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