Thursday, January 27, 2011

We Must Never Forget

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In honor of the day, I decided to spend the last week reading "The Diary of a Young Girl," by Anne Frank. While a lot of kids tend to read this book in school, I never had to--although I've read lots of books that reference the book, and I obviously know the general story behind it. It's been an interesting read--she's a funny, cheeky 14/15 year old.

One of my co-workers thinks I could read a much more in-depth book about the Holocaust--one that sheds light on how things were in the concentration camps, etc. Last year I read Jane Yolen's "The Devil's Arithmetic," which is a children's book as well, but does shed some serious light on the reality of the horrors many Jews faced. Maybe one day I will read much deeper, but right now my thoughts are focused on the aftermath of it all.

There's a saying that goes something like, "Always remember" or "We must never forget." Whatever it is, the point is that by shining light on the atrocities that occurred over 60 years ago, "never again" would we as nations, or individuals, allow such a thing to happen again.  Holocaust education happens in schools world-wide for primarily one reason: to prevent further mass murders and genocides.

But since 1945, other areas of the world have suffered similar bouts of mass violence:

  • Rwanda: In 1994, at least half a million Rwanda Tutsis were killed by their fellow countrymen, the Hutu. (Good book: "Justice on the Grass" by Dina Temple-Raston.) 
  • Bosnia: Beginning in 1992, the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina were targeted by the Serbs. By 1994, around a quarter of a million Bosnians had been killed. Over a period of five days in 1995, Bosnian Serbs separated Muslim families and killed over 7,000 men and boys. 
  • Cambodia: From 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia held a systematic campaign of murder, starvation and neglect, killing up to (and maybe more than) two million Cambodians. 
  • Nigeria: 1n 1966, political unrest led to the murder of Ibos living in the northern part of the country. Over 8,000 were killed. The subsequent Biafran War saw the death of between 600,000 and 1 million people due to the Nigerian government's policy of starving the Ibo region. (Good book to read about this: "Half of a Yellow Sun," by Chimamanda Adichie.)
  • Sudan: Currently, in Darfur, the ongoing conflict is more or less genocide. 
And these are just a few. There's Tibet, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Argentina, Lebanon, Uganda, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi, Zanzibar, Sri Lanka.... 

What happened to "Never Again"? 


"For the dead and the living, We must bear witness." -- Elie Wiesel.

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