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We must never forget the past

We must never forget the past We must never forget the past

On Monday I watched a video showing 200 survivors of the Auschwitz- Birkenau Nazi death camp celebrate 75 years of freedom. It was moving and powerful, and as I saw those survivors approach the bleak iron gates, stooped and old, I was struck by how little people seem to know about the Holocaust.

75 years ago, on January 27, 1945, the horrors and atrocities of the Holocaust were laid bare for the world to see. Starving men and women, guilty of no crime greater than having either a different opinion, or simply being born Jewish or Roma, were freed by Allied forces.

Their bodies were gaunt and skeletal, and they had endured unimaginable suffering. It was a mute testimony to the terrible ways in which humanity treats others for the “crime” of being different.

State-sanctioned genocide is nothing new to humanity, but the sheer scale that was carried out by Nazi Germany had never been known before. I hope the world never knows it again.

But sadly, according to a recent survey, less than 50 percent of people in the country can accurately tell you how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Even fewer know that members of the Roma (aka gypsies), academics and political dissenters were also cast into the fires.

We live in a strange time, where information is readily available. We are just a Google search away from finding an answer to most questions.

Yet, are we in fact growing more ignorant? Who is more foolish? The man or woman who doesn’t know how to use Snapchat and Tik Tok, or the man or woman who can’t tell you what happened before they were born?

I think we both know the answer to that. I was left shaking with anger and disgust that so few people in our country seem to give a damn about history, as if the past is some ancient relic that has no bearing on our present, let alone the future.

We live with the past everyday, we see it in our buildings, we see it in our cultural values. It’s as important to us as our careers and families. Like genetics, the past can be felt in our bones.

History reminds one that compassion, mercy and pity are true strengths and true virtues. Sometimes they are the only weapons against a cold and unfeeling world.

The Holocaust reminds us that we must be ever-vigilant against evil because evil does exist. But perhaps more than the awareness of evil, the greatest thing we must guard ourselves is this — the indifference of good men and women.

We must always remember, or suffer the fate of seeing history repeat. As I watched the aging survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau make their way through the camps, remembering the horrors of friends and families lost, I was struck by how few are left to remember.

Indeed, this was their very message that very day: Never forget.