It is as important to learn from the Holocaust as we live in such fragile times – Richard Ferrer


Most of the Holocaust survivors I know do not live as victims.

Ask and they will talk openly and honestly about the loved ones they lost and the horrors they saw and suffered, while they insist that they eat half of their kitchen.

But for them, daily life is not about personal suffering, it is about warning as many young people as possible about the merciless depths that humanity can sink.

It is about warning how even a liberal European country like Germany can move from modern democracy to a murderous dictatorship in a matter of months.

It’s about showing how ordinary people, yes, like you and me, can participate in the genocide of their thousands and look the other way for millions.

That is why today it is so important for all survivors, and for all.

Women and young children leave a car upon arrival at the Auschwitz concentration camp

After six million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II, the world said “never again.”

However, since then it has been “over and over again.” The unspeakable horror follows the unspeakable horror.

The German philosopher Georg Hegel knew it 100 years before Hitler when he said: “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”

Millions of innocents have been killed in Cambodia (two million dead), Rwanda (one million), Bosnia (8,000 dead in two days) and Darfur, the first genocide of the 21st century, where 500,000 have died.

Today the Rohingya are being killed in Myanmar, the Nuer in southern Sudan, the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq and more than one million Uighur Muslims are currently imprisoned in China.

It happened then, it happened since then and it is happening now.

Children behind a barbed wire fence at the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz
(Image: Getty)

We live in fragile times, in an era not very different from the 1930s, with growing nationalism throughout Europe, bosses in the Kremlin and the White House, politicians selling hatred and jihadists determined to start another Holy War.

Here in the United Kingdom, at least, the legacy of the Holocaust survivors seems certain.

The crimes of the Nazis are part of the national curriculum, the Government, through the Holocaust Educational Trust, sends two students from all universities in the country to Auschwitz, the new World War II galleries and the Museum Holocaust Imperial de la Guerra, which will open next year, will be a unique resource to teach about the darkest hour of humanity and a new national memorial and learning center will be built next to Parliament.

On this historic anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp where one million of Hitler’s victims were killed, of course, we pay tribute to the ever-decreasing number of survivors.

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But, what is more important as far as they are concerned, we promise to continue their work when the last one is gone.

That means accepting not isolating minorities, challenging not excusing intolerance and thinking about our personal duty to face prejudice at the moment we see it.

If we want to keep the Holocaust where it belongs, in the past, we must keep talking about it.



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