Education is a Weapon Against Future Holocaust

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Education is a Weapon Against Future Holocaust

The following op-ed by Ron Sachs was originally published in the Tallahassee Democrat, April 3, 2013. 

There is no doubt about the Holocaust being the darkest chapter in modern human history. It is a horrific milepost because our innocence is shattered against the reality of such evil. On another level, it awakens in all a realization of how dangerous and empowered political extremists will break any rules to enact a horrific agenda.

As the population of survivors from those terrible times — of the death camps — dwindles, we have a moral imperative to keep the memories of the tragedy alive by embracing an ongoing commitment to Holocaust education and research. To do any less would be to concede defeat — years after crushing the active Nazi terror — to that very enemy whose agenda seems to sustain itself even in these modern times.

Today, anti-Semitism anywhere in the world can give rise to new atrocities, just as modern racism, sexism or ageism can still deprive blacks, women and elders of their equal footing in this country.

Every new generation must learn the lessons of the Holocaust — not because it was a Jewish tragedy, but rather because it was a wider human tragedy. The effort to erase an entire population of people from the face of this earth is as offensive to consider today as it should have been back in the 1930s, before Hitler’s power approached absolute control.

Recent revelations by researchers astound even Holocaust experts in their finding of many more death camps and death ghettos — more than 40,000 — and more massive genocide under the Nazi rule, from 1933-45, than previously believed. And, it wasn’t just in Germany, but also in France and Russia and all across Europe.

The litany of newly revealed horrors previously unknown is bone chilling: “killing centers” and forced labor camps numbering in the thousands; POW camps; so-called “care centers,” where abortions were forced on women, or alternately, post-birth murders of infants routinely happened.

Now, we are learning that the infamous major killing camps, and the historically documented “ghettos” in which Jews were forced to live in isolation and deprivation, were merely better known integral parts of a much larger Nazi network of torture and death.

New estimates now skyrocket to 15 million to 20 million the number of people who died or were imprisoned in this Nazi hell of suffering and death.

Horrid as it is, this new information only reaffirms the need to keep the truth alive.

The willingness to tell and hear the stories is the beginning of what we need to keep the memories fresh — as the most potent weapon to help ensure that such extreme evil might never be validated, tolerated and activated for any period of agony — ever again. Thus, we commit to “Never Forget” the horror and the human toll that it claimed.

We also commit to “Always Remember” the millions lost and the devastation caused for generations of families and a world deprived of so many people whose promise and lives were never fully realized.

Today’s schoolchildren — and the next generation, after them — must be taught the truth about this history, not for the benefit of passing some test or achieving some grade, but because knowledge is power. And, knowing about the Holocaust sensitizes all of us to be more tolerant, understanding and open to the wonders of human diversity in our world.

Alternately, learning about the dark history just as surely builds a larger, stronger and more dedicated army of good human beings whose tolerance stops — and for whom a call to action awakens — if such a threat to any group ever surfaced in our societies again.

Sunday is Holocaust Remembrance Day — and it is an unnecessary reminder of the need to keep this history “fresh.”

My wife and I — and our company — are proud to be among the many who support Holocaust education and research. We support it intellectually — and financially, too. Any contribution to such a noble cause is money or time well invested of because of the bottom line:

In the end, Holocaust education and research are important not because of what they cost — but because of what they may help to save: a world free from the possibility of it ever happening again.

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