The end of today marks the end of Holocaust Remembrance Day. There is much to remember… hopefully with the goal of not repeating past, though sadly there are other instances when it has. Perhaps we can start learning from our past so we can stop repeating our foolish mistakes.
I hope when reading this, no one thinks that I’m boiling the Holocaust down to just some foolish acts. No… disturbingly, sadly… it was much, much more than that, though there were some foolish things done during that time. I’m not Jewish. I’m Catholic (though not “practicing” at the moment), but that doesn’t matter. What matters is speaking up for people, regardless of their background, because there will be a time when we need someone to speak for us. What matters is what happened was a human atrocity – not just a Jewish one. They were the main target, but there were others. It would be foolish to forget this fact. There were many Russians, disabled, homosexuals and others who suffered at the hands of people, and it could be argued one person, who forgot about humanity.
There were many fools in this monstrosity. First, of course, there were the German people. Yes many did buy into Hitler’s rantings and they followed his every move. Yes there was racism and hate by Germans. There was also those who didn’t know better or thought it was not much more than politics (though I may be mistaken on this last matter as I haven’t studied this topic in some time and there’s always new information coming forward). There were some, to the best of my knowledge, who may have bought into the racism, but not necessarily the extermination of Jews and others or were at least in denial that it was happening. I suppose I shouldn’t say “at least” because denial was certainly a big part of why the Holocaust got so far or happened at all. Denial is most certainly a very foolish thing to do, especially in times such as those. I suppose it happens on occasion because such horrific things are difficult to process… hell after all these years it’s still difficult to imagine, even after similar incidents have happened such as Rwanda – that doesn’t excuse it though. Purposely playing the fool helps no one.
The U.S. was played the fool too. Perhaps there were some other reasons for it, but Hitler managed to find himself named “Man of the Year” and on Time Magazine’s cover in 1938. A disturbing fact, though it may not all be what it appears. Mind you, Holocaust aside for a very brief moment, Hitler was doing much for Germany economically speaking and that in part is why so many German people were so willing to believe his delusions because they finally felt viable again after such a horrible defeat in WWI. The lack of national morale and a weak economy contributed to being so vulnerable to such an evil man. All of that contributed to how Hitler knew he could do what he did – get the people to trust him to rebuild their country and of course, you have to blame someone for having fallen in the first place – it makes it easier to accomplish what you want. With people trusting him and following him and now a scape goat, things fell into place. Hitler was evil, twisted, maniacal but he was smart. He understood how to manipulate and he did.
There were many fools, even Hitler turned into one. I cringe at the idea of how things may have turned out had he played his cards better; had he not gone “loopy” and gotten so far into drugs and made poor decisions, including choosing to attack Russia and made enemies of yet another evil man, Joseph Stalin (he’s another story for another time). Some could argue the U.S. was foolish again in not taking action that could have prevented or somehow lessened the damage at Pearl Harbor (assuming prior knowledge of the attack was indeed known). The Japanese were fools for having even started that war with us. As historically inaccurate as “Pearl Harbor” was, there was one thing that stuck out to me. A Japanese commander said something about having awoken a sleeping giant (if memory serves). He had no idea.
On the more positive side of things, people like Oskar Schindler were fools too. Schindler started out a business man, was even a member of the Nazi Party if I’m not mistaken, but instead of continually turning a blind eye, he opened his. He was foolish for doing what he did, but he saved so many lives. He could have paid dearly had he been found out, but it was truly worth the risk. There were many Germans and others who risked themselves to help Jews and others. It was a dangerous time but a great many thanks is owed to those “fools.” The U.S. has been called a fool for entering the war so late, but I suppose better late than never.
The bottomline, let us not forget all these players. They all played a role, good, bad, ugly or even evil. We can’t change the past but we can learn from it. I worry that we still haven’t totally learned the lesson, which is why Rwanda happened, why other similar atrocities continue to happen. Let us not forget and instead remember those who died, lived, be thankful for those who stood up to “bullies” and grateful that we have an opportunity to avoid this from happening again. Let us not have to be “foolish” in order to be human and do right by others.
There are fools, no wait… IDIOTS out there who deny the Holocaust ever happened. Please don’t let those folks still believe this. How can so many still have the scars, the memories, the tattoos and more if it never happened. If we do not speak up for some, who will speak for us when we need it?