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60 years after Auschwitz

I can’t seem to find the words today to express my feelings reflecting on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz:

Horror at the atrocities that will be shocking no matter how many times we hear or read about them.

Pride that the Jewish people is today so strong and is standing at the gates of the former death camp, declaring with our presence that we are alive and that the Nazis failed.

Anger at the world that pays lip service to the anniversary and condones and promotes antisemitism the rest of the time.

Disgust that Jewish people are pitied by the world for being weak, but loathed by the world when we are strong.

Sadness at the thought that the generation bearing witness will soon be gone, outnumbered by the racists and deniers, and apprehension at what this will mean for “never forget”.

Fear for the future of Israel and for the future of freedom in the world.

Disappointment in the human race’s seeming inability to learn from the past.

As the world remembers and reacts, mostly I wonder about the lessons of the Holocaust. What has the world really learned? In the wake of horrors in Kosovo, Bosnia, the DRC, Sudan, North Korea… how can we claim that we’ve learned anything? Since the beginning of time, human beings have shown a cold genius in inventing new ways to cruelly murder one another. Was the Holocaust just another part of that?

Today the world remembers. But it does not learn.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • DaninVan 01.28.05, 7:55 PM

    “The unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.” –Theodore Roosevelt

  • John Howard Oxley 01.31.05, 2:13 AM

    Given my druthers [and I’m not Jewish, so it is not like I have a personal stake in this matter], I would far rather be “loathed by the world” for being strong.

    I have this wistful hope that several centuries from now people will look back at the history of Israel and rejoice in its continued success, which is, in many ways, the sucess of civilization itself.

    The contorted logic of the sophisticated anti-semites [and I do recognize that one can be anti-Israeli without being anti-semitic, but the converse is rarely true] represents nothing less than a perversion of rational discourse and the meaning of historical evidence.

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