Remembrance of the Past:
The callow children in elementary school,
the tumultuous teenagers in middle school and the almost adults in high
school are the future leaders, future protesters and future activist of
the world. School prepares children to be independent, aware and active
adults and that's why learning history and internalizing its lessons is so
important. History sets examples for students to learn from so that
tragedies, like the Holocaust, don't happen again. In order to learn how
to prevent recurring events such as the Holocaust, these events must be
brought to a personal level when taught in school. Merely reading facts
and figures about the Holocaust won't allow for the extent of the massacre
to sink in and won't inspire people to prevent new tragedies. Current
events should be integrated with learning history so facts and figures
become real and meaningful occurrences that can be related to. By drawing
parallels, like the current Darfur massacre, the horrors of the Holocaust
are brought from the 1930's and 40's into the present day. Learning about
the past along with the present will help students shape the future.
The process of learning from our mistakes is
instilled at a young age. This lesson dampens the feelings of failure and
regret because you can come away from a mistake saying "never again".
Start a conversation with anyone about the Holocaust and you'll hear
phrases such as, "That will never happen again" and "How could the world
stand back and allow humans to be slaughtered." Although it sounds like
the world has internalized this childhood lesson, history and current
events prove otherwise. The Holocaust, Vietnam, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan...
what do these events have in common? They are all examples of the same
mistake repeated again and again in history; the turning of a blind eye to
the "ethnic cleansing" (http://www.savedarfur.org/) that went on in all
these countries resulting in the death of millions of innocent civilians.
This mistake is currently being played out, once again, by ignoring the
massacres going on in Darfur, an area in Sudan. The government and the
government backed Janjaweed militias are raiding, looting, raping,
bombing, and starving non-Arab civilians in Sudan. For the first time in
history, this crisis has reached the point of being deemed genocide by
Collin Powell and the committee on conscience of the US Holocaust
Memorial. Even with the foreseen devastation, it is ignored by world
organizations and pushed aside by the world's leaders and allowed to be
replayed on the world's stage. Will it take
another 26 million deaths, like the Holocaust, before people are spurred
into action? The world is currently sitting at the crossroad between
saving lives and genocide. With the current passiveness, it's leaning
toward genocide. This is why remembrance of the Holocaust must be
preserved and passed down.
The genocide in Darfur has strong and undeniable parallels to the Holocaust. More than 300,000, and the number continues to grow each day, civilians have been killed in Darfur by the government's Janjaweed militias. Much like Hitler's Einsatzgruppen militias who killed about 1,500,000 Jews before Hitler started using gas chambers and crematories. Over 2 million civilians in Darfur have been bombed out of their homes and now live in makeshift camps deemed "dens of death" where children, women, and men parish from starvation and illness everyday (http://www.savedarfur.org/). These refugee camps are similar to the concentration camps where Jews were kept and forced to work with little food, clothing and shelter. A refugee from Darfur relived one attack saying, "They even tossed babies into the fire" (http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/sudan/). John Menszer, a survivor of the Holocaust, recalled, "They throw in the people, you know, in the crematoriums...the children. I never will forget . . . alive . . . they throw them in the crematoriums" (http://www.holocaustsurvivors.org/) The horrors of the Holocaust will always remain as they were in Elie Wiesel's book Night where he stated, "Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky" (Night, Elie Wiesel). In both cases, the militias show no mercy as they brutally slaughter innocent civilians. The Janjaweed militias portray themselves as Arabs while the victims are called Blacks or even slaves. This ethnic tone in the conflict turns the massacres in Darfur into ethnically motivated genocide just as the Holocaust portrayed extreme Anti-Semitism. Darfur is unmistakably qualified as genocide, yet the U.S. and the U.N. have let it continue. It hasn't gained the kind of publicity it should.
If society doesn't want to use the term "never again" in the future, the phrase must hold meaning now. By not learning from repeated mistakes in history, the world has given the term an empty meaning. It can gain importance again by studying the horrors of the Holocaust and standing up against the massacres happening in current events. It's too late to save the lives of 300,000 people in Darfur, but it's not too late to save the lives of thousands more today and in the future. The reason for remembrance is obvious, the necessity has been proven and solutions can become tangible. Remembrance of the past provides foreshadowing of the future, requiring action in the present.
Costello, Amy. FRONTLINE World. 2005. KQED, WGBH. <http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworId/stories/sudan/>.
Save Darfur. 2004. Spring Thistle Design. <http://www.savedarfur.org/>.
Cash, Dave, and John Menszer. Holocaust Survivors. 1999. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. <http://www.holocaustsurvivors.org/>.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Hill &
Wang, 1960. 1-128.
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