Today is a special day, not because it is Family Literacy Day, but for a far more sombre reason. Today we mark the Holocaust Memorial Day, remembering those that died at the hands of the Nazi regime. 71 years ago Soviet troops liberated the heart of darkness – Auschwitz – and I think it is fair to say that those images has etched themselves in our collective memory. In times as chaotic as they currently they are, it is more important than ever to take the time to stop and listen to those who somehow managed to return from Hell alive.
These brave souls, having been marked for the rest of their lives by their experiences, are slowly decreasing in number. In a not too distant future there will be no more survivors from these atrocities. When this inevitably happens, we must continue to spread their stories and not allow it to be confined to the dustbin of history.
During a recent trip to the Holy Land I visited Yad Vashem, sitting in the hills surrounding Jerusalem. It’s an architectural paradox representing modern thinking in a city that otherwise is connected with our past. Under its concrete roof however the reminders of arguably one of the darkest stains in our history are constant. In a circular room towards the end of the carefully planned exhibition is a sombre sight. The walls are covered with bookshelves filled with folders. The folders seem never ending, filled with the names of victims of human cruelty, hate and prejudice.
At the end of it all, after Nuremberg, mankind as one declared that atrocities like this would never again be taking place. But, as history has taught us, this was not the case. Persecution has continued, antisemitism is once again on the rise and a number of genocides (think Rwanda, Bosnia) have taken place within the past few decades. It is therefore apparent that we did not learn our lesson. Claims that we are now enlightened enough to prevent this from ever taking place again are nothing but shying away from the dark reality. Unless we fight these forces of darkness and speak as one, this will happen again.
Let’s ensure that all those who died during the Holocaust and subsequent genocides did not die in vain. Together we can ensure that this darkness is expelled from our planet and confined into the bloodstained history of mankind.