Holocaust Memorial Day

Gay Memorial Amsterdam
Holocaust Memorial Day

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the former Nazi concentration and extermination camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, in 1945. When I think about it, most of the people I love would have been executed or placed in concentration camps for one bitterly spurious reason or another, had we been living under Nazi rule.
A sobering thought.

For many it was reality and not a hypothesis.

We like to think that we live in more enlightened times, and yet holocaust is still a reality for many living today - and not just for the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust.

The gradual dehumanising of one group of people or another by those with contrasting ideologies allows for the possibility of persecution, degradation, denial of basic human rights and even genocide -the unsavoury euphemism of"ethnic cleansing" hiding the brutal reality. We think of Bosnia and Serbia. We think of the Kurds. We think of Rwanda.

But where next? Unless we actually start learning these lessons from the past, it is only a matter of time until another group of people are disempowered and degraded. It is our responsibility to ensure that we recognise the shared humanity in all - otherwise we too could be unwitting persecutors, standing by while one part of humanity is crushed out of existence.

5 comments:

Random Reflections said...

It is astounding that any group can be so dehumanised that their wiping out seems justified. I guess if we choose to see people merely as a group and they therefore lose their individuality, and you combine that with fear and ignorance, then you can justify a multitude of evils.

The Imperial War Museum in London has a really good permanent exhibition about the holocaust. Very moving and challenging.

y said...

Indeed.
For some reason I can't quite fathom, I've always been rather obsessed with the Holocaust and nazi concentration camps.I'll read and watch anything and everything about it. I don't why this particular resonance in view of all the other genocides/massacres everywhere else.

ro said...

two points.

years after my dad died i found out he'd been one of the first allied troops into that palace of fun. he never talked to me about it when he was alive. i wish he had.

secondly, do you have to be gay to read here? i spent some time in the castro in san fran a week or so ago, so does that count? can i be, like, an honourary gay?

luvvin ya! :-)

ro said...

oh, another point in my favour, i've started reading maupins 'tales of the city' series and i like it, though i *hate* the bloody woman who runs the house they live at, wassername, madrigal? wtf? why is she such a weirdo?

golly, reading gives me such a *headache*. i hate being made to think...

The Gripes of Wrath said...

ro, thanks for posting: my immediate family were all in reserved occupations during WWII, although a neighbour was a holocaust survivor - I remember being transfixed by his fading tattoo- and then horrified by my own fascination later on in life when I found out what it was for.

On a lighter note *thinks* I'm fairly sure gayness isn't obligatory when reading my blog (but I do sometimes hold recruitment drives and -gender aside- I might sign you up for the Lesbian Avengers...)

Having said that, I've never actually asked my reader(s) which team they bat for (or indeed if they are possessed of pads or a wicket to continue the loosely put-together glib metaphor) I think I'll pass on that question, come to think of it...

Come one, come all (just so long as you clean up after yourself) tends to be my motto.