Yesterday, April 19, was Holocaust Memorial Day. Meredith Mandell wrote on God's Politics blog that Historians Race Clock to Collect Holocaust Memorial Stories. Time does march on and each year we lose more and more first hand accounts of the one of the single largest accounts of human extermination and hatred in the history of our known civilization.
After WWI was declared over, the slogan that marked its pain was "Never Again". Yet… again it happened. And again, and again and again. I know many of us pick up our daily papers, click on our RSS feeds, switch on the TV or Youtube and are nearly instantly depressed with the amount of bad news circulating around the globe. Why yet another blog, another comment, another voice to add to the darkness?
It was not only the Jews who were systematically killed during WWII; it was also the Czechs, the Poles, the Russians, the Roma, the physically or mentally disabled, the homosexuals, any people of colour, political dissidents, Christians and anyone else declared an "enemy of the State". As for the Jewish people, while the Nazi regime exemplified the horror of a deliberate and methodical method of genocide over a long period of time, they were beseiged on all sides by other nations equally as brutal in their attempt to wipe Jews from the face of the earth (thinking of Stalin's Russia). Nazis might have the banner of notoriety, but they do not stand alone.
Times of war, genocide, or any type of chaos creates an environment perfect for slavery, state-sanctioned or black market. But I want to shift away from the specific issue of trafficking for a moment, if I may. Have we truly forgotten already the stories of WWII and the camps?
We must not.
Because we have not learned.
Vietnam, Cambodia, Rwanda/Burundi, China, the DRC, the US (Jim Crow era?), Bosnia… all (and more) deliberate, violent, systematic attempts to annhiliate another people group. I'm sure we all could add to the list. Are these stories being collected? I hope so.
You see, the reality that we think first to pick up arms against other groups shows that the stories of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dachau, Ravensbruck, Sobibor – all of them – are not being fully heard. We still race for bloodshed. We still find power in destruction. We create fear in domination. And… when it is over, our grief and remorse is profound and deep, but we have not learned.
I applaud those voices who have risen above the battlefield to call for peace, whether these voices are still yet living or not. We need more such voices. Even if our people group are considered "the good guys", our good guys yank such voices from the war-torn landscape so that we can justify our violence.
Do not forget.
We are too quickly erasing the Holocaust into the past, paving the way for new justified holocausts that will secure our power, but villify our souls.
Do not forget the past, because our present is showing us that we have not learned. We cannot say yet "Never again."