On the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the
On the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation by the Russian Red Army, it is necessary to look back at our past and what has happened since that fateful day of Jan. 27, 1945. We must recognize where we are now in relation to those dark times so that we do not repeat our history.
In an age where facts no longer matter and history is malleable, we must never forget the horrors of the Holocaust and the six million Jews who were killed, over 960,000 of whom were murdered in Auschwitz alone. And yet, it seems that we already are starting to. There are many Holocaust survivors still alive today who witnessed the original rise of Nazism in the 1930s, its defeat and the emergence of a post-war world order designed to foster peace and understanding between the nations of the world.
Yet at the same time, these survivors are now witnessing the resurgence of Neo-Nazis, and some original Nazis, as well as the return of authoritarian, almost Orwellian, national orders led by demagogues, such as Trump and Putin, who seek to bend history to their own ends. All the while, these final survivors look on in shock and horror as they see the world so easily forget what happened to them within their lifetimes. This is not even to speak of the youth of the world, even including Jewish youth, who know very little about the Holocaust. As in the case of American Jewish rapper Lil Dicky, many even want us to move on and “forgive Germany,” as he states in his hit charity song “Earth”. But all of this pales in comparison to the actual fact that there are many atrocities (luckily not on the scale or horror as the Holocaust) taking place once again.
Most recently, there has been the attempted ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the imprisonment of Uighur Muslims in Chinese re-education camps. However, as far as we know, they are not being murdered.
In the words of Piotr Cywinsky, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland, “Anti-Semitism, racism, demagogy, contempt and hatred. We are becoming more and more indifferent, introverted, apathetic and passive. Most were silent as the Syrians were drowning, we silently turned our backs on the Congolese people and the Rohingya people, and now the Uighurs. Our silence is our severe defeat.”
Even here in the United States, we are seeing this trend play out with not only the worst anti-Semitic hate crime in our history carried out in the relatively nearby city of Pittsburgh at The Tree of Life Synagogue, but also in Monsey, New York and in the random attacks on noticeably Jewish people in Brooklyn.
Even on our own campus, we are seeing a rise in hate in the form of the alt-right group Turning Point USA, which, since sending paid workers to campus, has infiltrated the Drexel Republican club. They have used that connection to both host a known racist filmmaker Michael Hansen and screen his film “Killing Free Speech Part II”. To top that off, they also hosted the “Proud Boys,” who are a known violent hate group as designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Despite these events and guests being against university policy, as none of them were approved, nothing has been done to my knowledge.
As the number of Holocaust survivors continues to dwindle and hate crimes against Jewish and other minority groups continue to rise, we must ask ourselves: can we honestly say “Never Again” to those survivors? If we let these other, admittedly smaller, atrocities continue to happen, where do we as a species draw the line? It clearly wasn’t at the aforementioned attempted ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, or the Syrian refugee crisis, and it certainly wasn’t at the refugee crisis at the Southern Border of the United States.
I do not have a clear answer to this question because my answer would have been that, as a species, we should have come together to intervene in these situations on the behalf of the oppressed years ago. But what has happened cannot be changed. We must now focus on the future and ensure that we will stand up to hate in all forms. We must come together to fight atrocities, both at home and abroad, against any hate group so that we can say “Never Again” and truly mean it.