Lessons from the Past

My family and I recently made a trip to Washington D.C. where we saw the greatness of mankind and the evil of it too.

Our second day in D.C. we stopped at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. We knew it would be emotional and thought provoking, yet we still found ourselves ill prepared for the hours spent within those walls.

Voices of the past were heard while images and relics displayed a history lesson like you’ve never seen it before. So much has been left out in the school teachings, so much has been ignored.

There was a sense of reverence felt from the youngest visitor to the oldest as we passed from one section to the next. If anyone spoke it was in hushed tones. My oldest daughter was so overcome with emotion that she sat down in a small alcove and cried. Other visitors held handkerchief’s to their lips or dabbed at quiet tears. I was so seized by the moment that I didn’t even take pictures, instead I found myself looking around the one room and wondering who would have survived – I was certain that I would not, nor would my son.  To say the experience was sobering would be an understatement.

Such evil brought on by a desire to eradicate that which was different and yet the idea that some lives are better than others still exists today.

In the news we hear of people being rounded up and sent into detention centers to wait judgment; the crime – being a different race, seeking a better life. People are still being persecuted for religious reasons as well – one may call upon the same God, but because it is done in a different way we must go to war. Hate crimes against those of different sexual orientation, gender, and color are still everywhere and yet we claim to be  civilized and advanced while in the same breath demanding revenge for imagined injustice.

Genocide is not a “World War II thing”, it is here today. Syria, Darfur, and Central Africa all have exercised mass murder based on a desire to eradicate that which is different. Segregation exists still yet in many countries, including the United States. The people of the world can no longer claim ignorance, not with mass media and 24/7 news sources.  I am not a political person, and even I cannot ignore the controversy surrounding Trump.

Hitler was able to accomplish his ghetto projects successfully because people simply did not know what was happening. Today, however, we are aware. We have seen the images of babies placed in animal crates, ripped from the arms of loving parents. We have witnessed the mass shootings and crimes of hate. We have seen mounting tensions and a country divided by emotion and fear all because of a leader who has only his interests at heart.

When Hitler came to power, he said what the people wanted to hear. He made the ghettos and concentration camps sound like a good thing. He built upon the people’s fears and insecurities just as Trump is doing in the United States. “They are taking your jobs. Stealing your children’s education. Eating your food.” Sound familiar? It was what Hitler said of the Jews and his justification for having them sent away, pulled from schools, removed from jobs, and eventually walled off. Yet, they still would use the tailors and certain Jewish craftsman because they were “cheap labor”.

Hmmmmm, guess it’s true when they say that history repeats itself.

How can one look at history and then look at the news today and not see the parallels, not see the dangers?

One of the purposes of the Holocaust Memorial Museum is to educate people in order to prevent hate crimes like this from ever happening again.

History has shown that wherever anti-Semitism has gone unchecked, the persecution of others has been present or not far behind. Defeating anti-Semitism must be a cause of great importance not only for Jews, but for all people who value humanity and justice.

-Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism: A Report Provided to the United States Congress
United States Department of State
March 2008






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