The Holocaust and other genocides… remembering without repeating

This was posted on Faithworks yesterday, its worth a read, and whether you feel that there should be more done/said to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, or that there should be more done/said to make the genocides against other peoples during the last century, put that to one side and read it down to the end. Its the final sentence that challenges and speaks most to me…

JANUARY 27  is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the date the United Nations has chosen to commemorate victims of the Holocaust during World War II. Six million Jews were murdered by Germany’s Nazi regime, along with 5 million non-Jews who were killed.

The anniversary, marked each year since 2005, falls on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland by the Russian army in 1945. One million people died there.

The president of the European Parliament has warned of rising anti-Semitism as Holocaust Memorial Day is marked around the world.

The Parliament held its annual Holocaust Remembrance Day with the European Jewish Congress on the 71st anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

It came as Auschwitz survivors travelled to the camp in modern day Poland to lay flowers and remember those who were murdered by the Nazis.

Speaking at the memorial day event in Brussels, Mr Schulz warned that many Jews across Europe still do not feel safe.

He said: ‘Jewish life is part of our culture and our identity. Without the Jews, Europe would not be Europe. Therefore it hurts that in today’s Europe, Jews again live in fear.

He added: ‘Our collective memory of the Holocaust is fading fast, but if we allow the horrors of the past to fade into history, we are doomed to make the same mistakes again.

‘We need more that just ceremony and commemoration. When anti-Semitism is on the rise, when Jews are once again fleeing Europe.

‘When a murderous Islamic extremist ideology is threatening our existence, we need action as well as words.

‘It is time for our leaders to commit to a robust, unified and coordinated approach to tackling anti-Semitism and Islamic extremism.

‘We must all stand against hate refuse to allow history to repeat itself, making ‘never again’ a reality.’

How to actually do that? Standing against hate without allowing hate to rule us? How do we ‘tackle’ something without force or violence? And if we do go down the path of violence, what steps can we take as we go to ensure that this is the last time?

There’s an Iain M Banks novel, ‘Look to Windward’ that explores the whole idea of redemptive vengeance in parallel with soulless compassion… whether its worse or better to do the wrong things for strongly held beliefs or to do the right things because they are right, whether we feel passionately about them or not… His conclusion is along the lines of the maxim that ‘the best politicians are the ones who don’t want the job’… giving responsibility for making decisions about conflict to those who’ve suffered and survived, who’ve come to a place of personal peace and forgiveness… those are the ones who won’t glibly launch bombs for the sake of votes… or is that just another naive dream?

Oh, and what would Jesus do? What did he ask his followers to do? I don’t mean what did Thomas Aquinas theorise which became developed into the ‘Just war theory’ that the UN bases its decision-making process on, but what did Jesus do and say about hate and conflict? Answers on a postcard please.

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3 thoughts on “The Holocaust and other genocides… remembering without repeating

  1. My goodness! To begin with I must recount something. My first marriage ended because my husband found the duties of being a husband and father were too much for him to cope with. I was hurt and angry and felt betrayed. What I found unbearable at the time was my father telling me he had forgiven my husband. What did my father know of the situation? It took me a long time to come to terms with what had happened and eventually I forgave my husband and I forgave myself too. I also forgave my father who always meant well but often said the wrong/right thing at the wrong time. By recounting this I am not comparing my experience in any way with those poor people who suffered so much in the holocaust.
    Vengeance is wrong. Nothing good is gained by it. Soulless compassion is better but still not enough. Better because sometimes ‘faking it til you make it’ works and we get to understand why we should be compassionate. Compassion with understanding is the ideal. Only those with intimate knowledge of suffering can know how much there is to forgive.

    1. Thanks for sharing your own experiences- they are yours and have shaped you, they define your own understanding of suffering and allow you to empathise more fully with others. Your final comment is very telling ‘only those with intimate knowledge of suffering can know how much there is to forgive’… thanks.

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