Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget....


Hello dear readers,

In the US and Canada, today is a day of remembrance. It's a day when we take time to remember the sacrifices of our veterans, and to be grateful for their sacrifice.

Most of us wish for a world without war, but unless our basic nature changes, we will always see conflict. As much as I long for peace, I respect those who are brave enough to fight for our country. Imagine what the world would be like if no one was courageous enough to stop the Nazis....

Man's inhumanity to man has always fascinated me. I wanted to be a profiler, but failing that--as a writer and as a journalist, I've tried desperately to understand. And there's no greater symbol of man's capability for cruelty to his fellow beings than the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is a memorial and a museum now. You can take a two-hour tour of the camps, and see some chilling reminders of the evil that took place, including a large display of surgical tools, and a hall with hairs from the victims. Just thinking of it makes me shudder, but it also makes me sad.

Why keep such a ghoulish place? Why not tear it down and burn it until only cinders remain? Actually, it was a brilliant decision to keep the camps intact. What happened to the prisoners of this concentration camp in World War Two was so horrendous that it's difficult to believe. We can't wrap our minds around it. Maybe that's why, even now,

there are people and organizations who deny that hundreds of thousands of people were murdered in this camp, that gas chambers operated there, or that the crematoria could burn several thousand corpses per day. In other words, they deny that Auschwitz was the scene of genocide. (- the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum website)
Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. After the Holocaust, many said "never again". But since that time, we have seen horrible atrocities in Bosnia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Darfur....the tragedies continue. What do we have to do to live peacefully with one another? How must we change in order to bring a permanent end to war?

It's worth thinking about.

5 comments:

  1. The more generations removed from the atrocities of the world wars, the less real it seems. To my grandparents it is forefront because they experienced it. To my parents it is real as they saw the effects on their fathers. To my generation, it is reduced to stories told by grandparents.

    My children may never meet a veteran of the world wars. If they have no faces to put to the tragedies, how real will it feel? How can we keep a memory alive, when those who remember it are passing to dust?

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  2. Good question. I think places like Auschwitz-Birkenau can help...most museums are committed to keeping history alive and relevant. School programs can help, too, and while there may not be a veteran of the world wars to talk to, there will probably always be soldiers who can tell kids about the horrors of war. :(

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  3. Perhaps the day will come when we will all live in peace.

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  4. Don't forget about Cambodia and Pol Pots' Khmer Rouge.

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  5. @ Laura - one can only hope!

    @ Anonymous - of course not. I didn't mean to make light of that tragedy by not mentioning it. Unfortunately, there's been so many of them in the world that to name them all would take more time than I have.

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